by Wanda Easter Burch
He pulled up templates of other photos he had taken, showing me what a floater looked like in one of these photos. It appeared only on one surface of the photo as the doctor shifted plates of light and dark screens over the image. Then he showed me a “problem” area on another person’s photo – a dense amorphous spot that remained visible and steady as he shifted the plates of light and dark screens. That person, he noted, had left for Sloane Kettering just the week before.
As he talked, the photos he had taken of my eyes appeared on the screen. The one of my left eye seemed to magically take its place next to the one with the steady dense spot. As the doctor talked he moved the light and dark screens over my photo and the spot did not move. That’s a problem? I asked. That’s a problem, he said. He spent almost half an hour moving the screens around, looking at it from every possible angle and finally told me that it was much smaller than the one on the template and that he would like for me to come back in six months. If the image had changed at all, he would be sending me to a specialist.
Nearly twenty years ago, when I was asked to wait six months to pursue my troubled dreams about breast cancer, I did not hesitate to argue – my dreams were urgent and compelling. I had to act immediately. In this case I felt that time was on my side and that the six month wait would provide me an opportunity to do something positive about the problem identified in the photograph. I was also grateful for the photograph and the lesson in the differences between a healthy eye and a diseased eye. I could use those photographic images for visualizing imagery and creating my own template for healing the troubled area in my eye.
I came home and sat down in a quiet space and visualized the photo and then asked for an image. What I received was an almost whimsical scene of tiny little cells [T cells, Macrophages, and a small crew of helpers], all with little squeegies and buckets of cleaning liquids. I saw them taking their places on either side of my eye’s lens, cleaning and scrubbing and then disposing of the material cleaned from the lens in the buckets where it was dissolved. Then they would march away, leaving the lens clean. I visualized this scene whenever I would think about my left eye or when images would blur in my left eye. The blurring, I realized, had become frequent. If I sat for a moment, visualizing my cleaning crew, the left eye would become noticeably more clear. Sometimes I would see the lens spot as a liquid brown material, sometimes as a crusty material. Each time I visualized the scene, I would see the brown spot first and then see the crew cleaning until it was clear. I noticed after awhile that the brown spot became smaller, covering less space.
Finally, just weeks before my six month appointment, all that remained was a small dot that had to be cleaned away each time my cleaning crew appeared. One week before my appointment, the small dot had disappeared and I saw only a clear lens. I noticed then that the crew did not appear – apparently I no longer had a need for them.
The day for my follow-up appointment arrived. I was confident – but still nervous. Did it really work? I felt that it had worked but the doubting was still there – or at least the need for confirmation was there.
Dr. Gutmaker took the photos, pulled up the past photos on the screen and waited – with me by his side – for the new photos to pop up. They did. He pulled the two views – the old one and the new one – side by side and then turned his back toward me while he studied them. He moved the screens and the overlays back and forth and then said: “You are weird!” “Why?” I asked. “There is nothing here; it is gone!” I smiled. He turned around, smiling almost as broadly as I imagined myself. “I’m flummoxed - what I saw in January could not possibly be gone – but I’m pleased that it is!”
This interview took place on the
afternoon of September 23. I waited until that evening to look up
information on the condition the doctor and I had feared but had
avoided discussing explicitly - melanoma of the eye. I had purposely
NOT done that over the previous six months, not wishing to feed my
imagination with fearful images. I learned that eye melanoma is a
rare condition, apparently, but not as rare in people who have
experienced other cancers. The description was identical to what my
doctor had showed me, explaining his intense discomfort with having
shown me the template. The melanoma's characteristic is the
sandwiching in a fixed position between two layers, as opposed to
the floater that literally "floated" over the surface of one side.
Wanda Burch is the author of She Who Dreams: A Journey into Healing through Dreamwork (New World Library) which describes her use of Active Dreaming techniques in her successful struggle with breast cancer nineteen years ago. She leads dream workshops and healing retreats and is a leading figure in the development of new modes of imaginal healing.