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Selections from Peace, Love and Healing by Bernie Siegel, Copyright © 1989 by Bernie Siegel. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Itís springtime. Iím a landscape gardener, and I want to make the world beautiful."

Bernie Siegel, 
Peace, Love and Healing
, Part 1

In January of 1983 John Florio, a seventy-eight-year-old landscape gardener, was contemplating retirement. He developed abdominal pain and underwent a GI series, which showed an ulcer. He was treated for one month and re-x-rayed to see if the ulcer had healed. This time, however, it was larger and looked malignant. A biopsy revealed cancer of the stomach.

I first met John in late February when he was referred to my office for surgery. I suggested to him that we get him into the hospital right away since I was going on vacation, and I thought that with a rapidly advancing cancer he ought to have surgery immediately. He looked at me and said, "You forgot something." "What did I forget?" I asked. "Itís springtime. Iím a landscape gardener, and I want to make the world beautiful. That way if I survive, itís a gift. If I donít, I will have left a beautiful world."

Two weeks after my vacation, he returned to the office, saying, "The world is beautiful, Iím ready." He looked incredibly well the night after his surgery, with no pain or discomfort. The pathology revealed: "Adenocarcinoma, poorly differentiated, invasive through gastric wall and into perigastric adipose tissue. Proximal margin involved by tumor, seven of sixteen lymph nodes positive for tumor." That simply meant he still had a lot of cancer left in him after the operation. I explained to him that he ought to consider chemotherapy and x-ray therapy to deal with the residual cancer. "You forgot something," he said. "What did I forget this time?" "Itís still spring. I donít have time for all that." He was totally at peace, healed rapidly and was out of the hospital well ahead of schedule. (His granddaughter, and oncology nurse at Yale, was fully aware of the findings and his choice.)

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