Announcer: As we bring you anointed pastors, evangelists, teachers, authors and other special guests with testimonies and teaching to encourage and inspire and music to glorify God as we lift up Jesus Christ as Lord.
Show Host: My guest today is David Wakefield and David Wakefield holds a Ph.D. in Psychology. He is a licensed psychologist. He is also licensed as a family and marital therapist and currently he works in the mind and body area at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. So it’s a privilege for me to have him today. David, thank you for your time.
I know that you got a very busy schedule, not only do you work in Cancer Treatment Centers but you also have your family and marital practice as well, so you are pretty busy guy.
Dr. David Wakefield: I stay very busy.
Show Host: So tell me, just help our viewers understand what… people drive down 169 and they see Cancer Treatment Centers of America but just tell us a little bit more about the mission of Cancer Treatment Centers and what goes on there.
Dr. David Wakefield: We have been in that building there 169 & 81st Street since May of 2005 and about 20% of our patients come from Oklahoma, about 80% of our patients come from outside of the state. We get a lot of, most of our patients in fact have been diagnosed and are on the stage 3 and stage 4 of cancer and stage 4 is the worst, and so they have been dealing with cancer for some time. They have been through a lot of different treatment centers around the country and come looking for realistic hope and someone who has compassionate care and really interested in them and helping them fight the fight against cancer.
Show Host: Yeah, now the founder has a real interesting philosophy about patient treatment, it’s called the ‘Mother Standard’. So what is that?
Dr. David Wakefield: Yeah, Dick Stephenson’s mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer and back in about the 1970s and he was not real satisfied with the kind of care that she was getting. He felt like the doctors were more interested in what was best for them than it was best for her and he got frustrated. He went to try and improve cancer care for her and what he ended up with he was frustrated.
Well after his mother passed away he decided that he was going to change the face of cancer care and so he got some of the leading professionals together and said how can we do this better, and what he came up with is the Mother Standard and that is everybody that’s in front of me everyday I treat as if that person’s my mother. I want the very best for him, for her, whoever it is. The bible would call it the Golden Rule, you know, ‘Do unto others as you would have them doing to you’.
And so what he came up with is an integrated approach between integrating the very best of conventional medicine for cancer, which largely consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and research protocols with integrative, with alternative medicine or complimentary healthcare with what we focus on is nutrition, naturopathic medicine and my department – mind, body medicine. And so we try to integrate those, work with as a team together where everybody is working in the best interest of the patient.
But we focus also besides the Mother Standard we focus on patient empowerment. What that means is we want the patient to be very assertive. We want them involved in every decision that’s made; we want them to be involved in the treatment plan. A lot of places you go, the doctor says, “Well, we have done these tests; these are the results and this is what we are going to do to you”.
At our institution we do the test. We get back and we say, “Now this is what we found out, here are some options and what would you like to do?” Give them an opportunity to think about it and we want them to know that they can’t just go back home and get what they get from us because they don’t get naturopathy; they don’t get nutrition; they don’t get mind, body medicine. They would get good conventional care back home but they are not going to get the integrative team approach.
For a patient, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America it’s is like being a quarterback on a football team. The other ten players on the field want that quarterback to be successful but the quarterback gets the call to play and that’s the way it is – the patient gets the call to play and we make sure that they have enough information so they can do that. We educate them as well.
Show Host: Okay, and so it’s a very holistic approach.
Dr. David Wakefield: Very much so.
Show Host: To the entire patient and not just the scientific portion or the physical challenges of dealing with cancer or therapy but it’s the whole realm of everything – the relationships that they have, how they are dealing with it mentally and emotionally, psychologically how it’s affecting them – it’s very comprehensive.
Dr. David Wakefield: Spiritually, I’ll let that out - we have a pastoral care department as well as the physical therapy and if we have someone who is Islam or Muslim, someone who is Jewish, someone who is Buddhist, someone who is Catholic, our pastoral care department finds a spiritual leader in the community that can minister to them. So we include that as well. We don’t impose our belief system upon them but we do want to reinforce that spirituality is a part of the healing process as well.
So it’s not only just medicine and alternative care, its also spiritual care; pastoral care as well.
Show Host: So what is mind and body medicine?
Dr. David Wakefield: Mind-body medicine comes from the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which is not new but what psychoneuroimmunology research does now is research to support what we already know. Let me regress it a second – back in before 1850, up until about that time medicine was all based on the placebo effect, like they would do all sorts of things to treat people like purgings, like snake oil, like leeches and a lot of other things that they did and what was amazing is that people got well, but it was due to the placebo effect.
Well then in the late 1800s – early 1900s they started coming up with identifying bacteria and so as they treated the bacteria the person got well. They found out that vitamins healed people of certain illnesses. Then they came up with insulin, penicillin, streptomycin for T.B. At one time half of the hospital beds in the United States were with T.B. patients and so as they start giving people medication they started getting well regardless of what the person believed.
Well, then there became a great divergence in 1910 and 1911 with the Flexner report who said we are only going to support medical schools who teach doctors on scientifically based interventions, and so what they did is that there was a tremendous divergence from the placebo effect or mind-body medicine and so now with psychoneuroimmunology it’s not new but what it’s trying to do is show the inter-relationship between the mind, the body and the immune system is scientifically based.
What that means is it’s measurable, predictable and reproducible and so if you can do that then, and now it becomes mind-body medicine and so they completely went away from it and now they are coming back. About the last 40-50 years there’s been a lot of research to show that our mind is a powerful component of the healing process and we can influence our immune system and our body for healing, like you can take an electron microscope and see how the nervous system lays right alongside the immune system and that they can interact with each other like just a simple mind-body connection is if you get embarrassed and your face gets flushed, your feelings are changing the circulation to your skin and having a different reaction. So that’s just one example of a mind-body connection.
So that’s kind of a historical approach of where we have been and where we have come from and why its important today in what we are doing, like the Bible would say, you know, a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. This is not new; its just now that we are doing scientific research to prove what the Bible says is true. So if you just read the Bible you will be okay.
Show Host: Okay, so I think what I hear is that part of the placebo effect is not just what a specific, maybe a vitamin or a specific technique did but it’s also your mental health. It’s how your mind assumes or reacts or participates in being hopeful and optimistic about the effects, is that right? Am I getting that?
Dr. David Wakefield: Right. The Bible would call it faith. As a psychologist we call it belief and expectancy. For a placebo effect there’s actually three different parts – there is the belief and expectancy of the patient. There is the belief and expectancy of the caregiver, the physician, the healer, the pastor, and then there’s the belief and the expectancy of the interaction between the patient and the caregiver, and I will give you an example of each one.
The belief of the patient like in Matthew 9:20-22, the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years, she, if you read Matthew it says that she thought; she said to herself ‘if I can just get to Jesus and touch him I will be made whole’. Jesus didn’t even know she was in the crowd but he sensed the healing virtue, the lot of him, so he knew something has happened. Her belief and expectancy was if he could touch him she should be made well. That’s expectancy on the part of the patient.
Expectancy on the part of the relationship between the doctor and the patient – there was a study done at the General Massachusetts Hospital where an anesthesiologist came in the night before surgery and he just did a cursory introduction, “I am Dr. Wakefield. I am going to be your anesthesiologist in the morning and you are going to be fine. I will be operating with a doctor, Gold Smith, and we will see you in the morning”, and he left.
Then the same anesthesiologist went to different patients who were operated on the same surgical team and he spent time with the patient. He sat down with them; introduced himself; held their hand; had a warm, caring conversation and spent some time with them; showed them that they cared.
The research indicated when they unlocked the different groups to see the results, the people he spent time with that he showed that he cared about them they were dismissed from the hospital 2.7 days faster and they used half the amount of pain medication. So that relationship between the patient and the doctor, the caregiver is very important.
Show Host: So as you said, these aren’t just theories and they are not just subjective theories; they are measurable. They are objective standards that you can measure how these processes and techniques and therapies are really having an effect on the patient.
Dr. David Wakefield: Exactly, and that’s the purpose of research in psychoneuroimmunology today and then out of that we get mind-body medicine skills to help people get well. Basically you have within you all sorts of resources to help you get well. You can work for yourself or you can work against yourself and what we want to do is educate our patients to let them know of all the resources that they possess to influence our immune system.
Show Host: I see. So what kind of specific – when you have the patient that you are going to work with, what kind of practical or specific kind of therapies do you use with that patient?
Dr. David Wakefield: A lot. We deal not only with the patient but the caregiver and their family members and so anything that’s going on, what we are trying to do is create a healing environment inside their body and a healing environment outside in their environment so their immune system is strong as possible to attack the cancer. There’s certain things like depression, stress, anxiety which represses our immune system.
So a person is undergoing a great deal of stress their body is not going to be as strong as possible. One of the things that I discover is I ask people – ‘in your 57 years of living what’s most difficult thing you’ve ever had to face or deal with?’ And I am talking to a cancer patient and I discover a lot of times that they have some severe stressors in their life and what’s amazing to me is that after those severe stressors the people have been diagnosed with cancer.
So what I believe happens is what research supports is that the immune system gets suppressed and then whatever we have a predisposition to can start happening in our body. Some people say there is cancer in everybody but because our immune system is strong enough it keeps it under control and so it doesn’t flare up, and so that’s one thing to deal with the stress in their life; we deal with marital issues; we deal with family issues; we deal with the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment – do everything we can to improve quality of life so when they are going through this that they will be as strong as possible. Those are some of the major things that we deal with and coming to mind right now.
Show Host: Okay, so how do you see faith in God? The person who really has a strong faith in God, how does that help or hinder, does it hinder? Does it ever hinder?
Dr. David Wakefield: Faith in God doesn’t hinder but when I ask the question I just shared with you, ‘in your 57 years what’s the most difficult thing you ever had to face or deal with’, I am using that as a segway to get to my next question, and my next question is ‘when life gets tough who do you turn to, or what do you lean on?’ And if their spirituality is important to them at that point they’ll say God first or the Lord or Jesus or whoever.
And the second thing they see after that is family. So then I go from there segway to go ‘do you have a place where your worship or get your spiritual needs in that?’ They tell me about that and what I am looking for is the church is a tremendous resource for support. When people go through a difficult time in their life or a crisis the number one indicator on how well they’ll do, make it through that crisis is directly related to how much support they have, and that’s where the church is so important because we provide such great support.
And so what I am looking for is their spiritual journey has their path and something that now they are going to fall back on and use as a resource or because of their past experience in the church or with Christians or with people that has become a stumbling block and so if a stumbling block, I try and help them with that so they can turn that around where its not about their religion but its about their relationship with God.
In fact on my intake assessment form I ask them a question on a scale of 0 to 10 – what best describes your relationship with God? So we send missionaries out all over the United States and around the world. I work at a company where they bring people to me from all over there. I get to talk to about their relationship with the Lord and so it’s really a special time.
Just to give you one example I had a gentleman come last year and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and after they got the diagnosis they went home. His wife said, “It’s time we go to church”, and took him to a church in Houston; took their entire family – every one of them got saved, including the granddaughter. So to me, that’s the greatest healing because even if we get well from cancer at some point we are going to leave this world and we will have to go out somehow. So it’s not a matter of ‘if we are going to die’ but ‘when we are going to die’.
And so the Lord is a tremendous – for me it’s the number one support. My spirituality is what maintains me through a difficult time and for our patients it’s the same way. They know that men are limited and what we can do for them and that we will do all that we can but God is the ultimate answer. So the faith is a huge, huge resource for them.
Show Host: You know, that is we just draw strength from the Lord. I mean how many times in the Psalms are we encouraged to wait for the Lord. I waited patiently for the Lord and the Hebrew word for ‘wait’ always includes the idea of expectation, always includes the concept of anticipating of trusting and believing that God is going to show up and that God is going to help us and encourage us and strengthen us.
So, I mean I know that you are a board member at our church and so you join with me, that we believe that God works miracles, the message that we are going to listen to in a little while is about the God who does miracles. We believe that God is supernatural and that he can heal but the patient that is, that from a human perspective has been diagnosed is terminal and outside of God’s supernatural intervention American culture doesn’t like to… we don’t like to deal with death. In fact we don’t even use the word ‘death’. When somebody dies the common expression is ‘they passed away’. We make it as kind and as comforting and we just don’t like to deal with that.
So how do you in your work for that terminal patient – outside of God’s supernatural intervention, how do you help them prepare for death, and how do you help their family prepare for death?
Dr. David Wakefield: Well, first of all mind-body medicine, we deal a lot with expectancy and hope. So we try and give them realistic hope because our goal is to help them get well. So that’s our number one priority. All of that happens out of a relationship and we walk through the valley of the shadow with them. When and if we get to that point where we realize medicine, their belief system, their spirituality has done all that they can do and it’s just a matter of time, along the way as you have a relationship with them you can talk to them about those things and that’s the value of that initial question ‘please describe for me what best describes your relationship with God’ so I know right where they are at and where we need to go in the process.
Being able to, like not too long ago I was with a family and actually was in there holding her hand as she was taking some of her last breaths while the doctor was talking to family down the hall until they could come back. So you build the relationship with them. For me, I talk about the blessed hope – the hope that we have of eternal life, that some day we are going to go to heaven and be with the Lord in his presence forever and I ask them ‘does your particular religious background, do they talk about eternal life? Is that something you believe in?’
And then the next question, in fact I had this conversation this week with a man who is totally jaundiced and yellow and was an agnostic, really wasn’t the right time but I was planting seeds in his life. His wife was a believer; he was not. I said, “Well, if you ever got to that point would you know how to do that”, and he didn’t.
And I said sometimes its so simple that people stumble over it, you know, and if you ever get ready and I believe that you’ll get to that point, you’ll get ready – all you have to do is say ‘Lord, come into my life. Forgive me my sins. I want to spend eternity with you’, it’s that simple. And I often encourage the caregiver to talk with them more about that but it’s the hope that we have to hold on to that is greater than this life. It’s so much greater than this life.
So it comes out of a relationship. You pray in the spirit or you are listening to people asking Lord to give you wisdom and guidance and look for the right time to talk with them and of course we have a pastoral care department that’s doing that as well. So it’s probably one of the most difficult things that we do. I have never been in one of those situations that’s easy but people who have hope – they do it better.
Show Host: Yeah. Are you able? I mean because it sounds like that the atmosphere is very open, it sounds like Cancer Treatment Centers recognizes the value of mind and body medicine and because of their emphasis on pastoral care administering to the family, if you have a person who was a non-believer but they really become open and receptive, are you pretty free to talk about Christ and even lead them into what we call the sinner’s prayer and lead them into faith?
Dr. David Wakefield: Yes, we put our patient’s needs first. It is called patient empowerment, when what they want. So we have to be sensitive to what they want but we have a lot of… it’s not really a “Christian” institution but we have a lot of Christians who work there and so because we work as an interdisciplinary team you can go to another person who is a Christian, who is a part of that patient’s team and say this person is not a believer. So be sensitive, if you have an opportunity to minister be a part of that ministry process.
I got to present my assessment tool to the entire board and the owner Mr. Stephenson, and on that assessment tool was ‘describe your relationship with God on a scale of 0 to 10’ and not a single person on the board had a problem with that or a question about it. They only had one question and it was about another question that I had on there. So they are very open and supportive of whole person health care, treating not just the body but also the mind and the spirit.
Show Host: Right, right. Right, that’s great, I mean that really is encouraging that you have kind of liberty and freedom to really talk about the Lord and Christ and I guess you are also able to talk about your own personal faith, if there’s that receptivity and it is perceived that that’s going to be a part of their healing process that would be beneficial?
Dr. David Wakefield: Yeah, that’s no problem. If they ask about it then it just opens a door to talk about whatever you want to talk about.
Show Host: I know of it. I guess we would consider, or I would consider as a pastor, attitude as a component of the mind. How important is attitude in an attitude of faith or an attitude of optimism or just a person has just a sunny side look about life, how important is that?
Dr. David Wakefield: Correct me if I am wrong, I think it’s Philippians 2:5, 2:15, it says, “Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus”, another translation says, “Let this attitude, heavy attitude of Christ…” Some people say attitude is everything – yes, it’s very, very powerful what you believe and your mindset – that’s one of the things that I do as a psychologist is help people transform their mindset that will work for them to believe even the words that I use with them, words of expectancy, belief that when I talk about a doctor ‘that doctor is a very good doctor, you know, they will help you get well; this is going to work for you’.
I mean how you see life becomes your reality whether it’s reality or not. So its probably other than the power of God, the power of your mind and your attitude, what you believe, what you think is extremely powerful and there’s a lot of examples of where it has changed things.
Show Host: You know that really fascinating to me because I have heard sometimes people kind of diminish that part and just you know, there’s some well known ministries that have brought their ministry around possibility thinking and the power of positive thinking and we preachers are always trying to be deliverers of hope and I have heard a few people through the years kind of diminish that and say, “Well, you know, that’s a small part of life. It really isn’t that important”, but it sounds to me that even medically that’s validated that your whole outlook about life, how you, whether or not you are able to channel positive energy and get positive thoughts and really build that up. I mean it really is valid. It’s not just a superficial issue; it’s very valid.
Dr. David Wakefield: Very.
Show Host: Is that what I am hearing?
Dr. David Wakefield: Yes. Like Herbert Benson who is a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School, has been doing research for the last 40 or 50 years in mind-body medicine and he talks about the relaxation response where you can focus your thinking from just your normal thinking to taking deep breaths and relaxing or like repeating a word or prayer or the name of Jesus, and when he gets all through with his research he says, “Folks, now I want to tell you something – what I am telling you that science shows is what the church has been telling you for a long time and that is, prayer really makes a difference”.
I laughed at him when I heard that because we just take that as an assumption of everyday living, you know, but now there is research to say that it works.
Show Host: That it works, it really is validating. What about the sense of humor? How important is the sense of humor in the treatment in helping somebody?
Dr. David Wakefield: In working with cancer patients everyday I wouldn’t make it without a sense of humor. I tell people life is too serious to take seriously all the time. So I use my sense of humor as a part of my therapeutic interventions, try to be sensitive of course to where people are. We have a human therapy class every Friday at 1 o’clock. All of our classes are open to the public.
There’s two kind of humor – there’s simulated humor where you can just start laughing even though nothing is funny and then there’s stimulated humor where like you can tell a good joke and laugh because of that. Both of those have the same effect on your immune system.
Our heart has a pump for the circulatory system. Our immune system doesn’t have a pump. So one of the things that we do to stimulate our lymph system is by laughter; stimulates our lymph system. Our lymph system is what carries off everything that the bloodstream is too big to get into the bloodstream, our lymph system carries off, and so if we can stimulate our lymph system through laughter it helps us get well.
But for me, next to God and prayer, humor is my number one survival tool and I joke and cut up and I do crazy things at work and I am always about something. So I mean it helps the staff too to be light-hearted because we are in a very serious field.
Show Host: You are, it is, and I am sure it would be easy to succumb to just gloom and the severity of the moment and how tough the situation is, sort of try to keep people laughing or to just lighten the heart, can really make a big difference.
Dr. David Wakefield: Huge difference.
Show Host: And what do you call that class?
Dr. David Wakefield: It’s called humor therapy.
Show Host: Humor therapy? Can I sign up? I mean I can teach that class.
Dr. David Wakefield: You can teach. You can come. You can be a part. They actually have, there’s a doctor Steve Wilson now who is training people all over the United States and around the world to be laughter club leaders. He is using simulated laughter instead of stimulated laughter to help people to do life better.
Show Host: That’s incredible. Your work is great David and I really appreciate your time today and you know, for the last half hour Dr. Wakefield and I have been talking about therapies and the mind and body work at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and we have been talking about cancer but you know, life itself – just problems, challenges, the daily struggles of life – all those things can really weigh us down and the same things that we have been talking about, about attitude, about your sense of God, about prayer, about the sense of humor – all those things can also, they can effect everything in your life, not just physical illness, in fact the way we approach all of life.
So David, I really appreciate you taking time and spend some time with me and what I’d like you to do is we always believe that there are people that are watching that are going through all kinds of situations, maybe there’s somebody watching right now who is dealing with cancer or maybe there’s a family member who is watching or maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with cancer but right now they are just going through a difficult time.
So I am going to ask you – would you just lead us in prayer for people that might be watching, that the Lord will just make Himself real and just do what only he can do for them?
Dr. David Wakefield: Okay. As a psychologist I just want to encourage you to do two things – look up for Romans 12:2 where it says, “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, and also look up Philippians 4, verses 4-8, it tells you what things to think on and to marinate your mind in the word of God and that is a powerful transforming experience. Let’s pray, okay.
Show Host: Okay.
Dr. David Wakefield: Hallelujah! Father, I thank you for this opportunity to come to you and Lord Jesus, your word says that you know what we have need of even before we ask so we don’t come to you giving you information or we come to you asking for help today and we just pray for the people who are watching right now that you will touch them, that the hand of God would be upon their life and that you give them a peace that goes beyond the circumstances; that goes beyond understanding - a peace that will guard their heart and mind through Christ Jesus.
Father, I pray that that same healing virtue that raised Christ Jesus from the dead would dwell in them and quicken their mortal bodies and set them free and defeat the attacks of the enemy dear God and touch them no matter what the situation is. We thank you for it. Now Father, do above and beyond all that we can ask or think or imagine but according to the power of God, which is at work within us and we thank you for it. In Christ Jesus’ name we pray and we believe. Amen!
Show Host: Amen. You know, I believe that prayer and that if you just open yourself up; if you would just be open to God you will be amazed at what the Lord can do in your life. May be right now you’d like to take this a step further, maybe you’d like somebody who would just have a few moments to spend with you praying and talking with you. If you will call this number – 1-888 731-1000 there are prayer support that is standing by, people that are trained, that know the scriptures and that know how to encourage you and talk to you and to just lead you into a further discussion about the Lord Jesus Christ.
So I encourage you. That number again, its 1-888 731-1000.