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October, 2001

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 5, Issue #2




- Praying for Peace
- The Spinner and the Tent
- General Facts about Breast Cancer
- Suggested Practical Strategies to Follow if Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
- My Story in Healing Breast Cancer with Natural Medicine
- Coping with Hearing Loss
- Announcements
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of the Newsletter




By Frances Mezei, Editor

We have all been deeply affected by the terrible and heart breaking events in the United States. We have all been disturbed in some way by this tragic day. My deepest sympathies go out to the families that have experienced injury or loss.

'Abdu'l-Baha provides consolation for the bereaved, "When I consider this calamity (the sinking of the Titanic, 1912) in another aspect, I am consoled by the realization that the worlds of God are infinite, even as Christ has said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." They were called away from the temporary and transferred to the eternal; they abandoned this material existence and entered the portals of the spiritual world. Foregoing the pleasures and comforts of the earthly, they now partake of a joy and happiness far more abiding and real, for they have hastened to the kingdom of God. The mercy of God is infinite, and it is our duty to remember these departed souls in our prayers and supplications that they may draw nearer and nearer to the Source itself." (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 47)

This is a time when many of us have come together around the earth in this time of need. Many people have sought out various places of worship and devotional gatherings to say prayers and to seek out comfort and solace. I believe that we all have to work harder to nurture life, joy, unity, harmony and peace among all people. We have to find a way to dissolve the anger, the bitterness in our own hearts so we can spread the concept of the oneness of humanity as promised by Baha'u'llah through his many messages to the world.

Here is a prayer for America:

"O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal." ('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 67)

The November issue will focus on grieving and will provide us an opportunity to share and listen to those who have managed through this difficult period. We look forward to hearing from you.




My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it. (Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words, Arabic #52)

"There once lived a girl named Fatimeh, the daughter of a prosperous spinner, who took her on a business trip with him to the islands of the Middle Sea, in the course of which the ship sank in a storm, her father perished, and she was cast ashore near Alexandria, where she was taken in by a family of poor cloth makers, and made a second life for herself, learning their trade, in addition to that of spinner, which she had learned from her father. One day, while walking on the seashore, she was captured by a band of slave traders, taken away from her second life, and sold in the slave market in Istanbul to a maker of ship masts, who taught her the trade of making masts, which she worked at so well that when the maker of masts became prosperous, he sent her as his agent with a cargo of masts, to the great ocean of the east. On this voyage Fatimeh's third livelihood was also taken from her, when the ship was wrecked, and she was cast onto the shores of China. In China there was a legend that one day a strange woman would arrive from a distant land, who would build the Emperor a tent, for no one in China knew how to build a tent, so when she was discovered, and taken to the Emperor's court, she had been prepared, by the hand of providence, to build the Emperor's tent, using her profession as cloth weaver to weave the strong tent cloth, her skill as spinner to produce the necessary ropes, and her mast-making craft to fashion the tent poles. As a result, Fatimeh settled in China, married a handsome prince, and achieved her true destiny for which she had been prepared by her past misfortunes."

(Editor's note: This teaching story from the Sufis demonstrates a fine example of the true meaning of tests and struggles. Nothing in life is wasted and everything given to us has a purpose and wisdom. This story was submitted by Dr.William Saunders, Georgia, U.S.A.)




By Sedona Callahan, U.S.A

It's difficult to synopsize such a complex and heterogeneous disease, so I've made reference to a couple of books that do a good job of explaining in layperson's terms the differences among the types of breast cancer, as well as the treatment modalities. The following provides a good overview:

- Breast cancer strikes one out of every 8 American women.
- It is the most common form of cancer among women in the U.S.
- 185,000 new cases are discovered annually.

While breast cancer is often referred to as a homogenous disease, there are, in fact, several different kinds of breast cancer. Differences in treatment are based on the type of breast cancer and the extent of invasion. The most common breast cancer, Invasive ductal NOS (not otherwise specified) accounts for about 65% of all breast cancers, with DCIS (ductal cell in situ) about 10 - 15%, and invasive lobular also about 10 - 15%. For an easy-to-understand description of these and other breast cancer types, see John Link's "The Breast Cancer Survivor Manual".





By Sedona Callahan, U.S.A

The topic of breast cancer is timely for me because I am currently under treatment - having had a mastectomy and partial reconstruction just six weeks ago, with the remainder of the surgery scheduled in another six weeks. Although this is a very difficult time for the person diagnosed, as well as her family and friends, I have found the following strategies beneficial.

* After diagnosis and prior to scheduling treatment, I encourage the woman and the family members and friends who are assisting her to educate themselves about the particular type of breast cancer she has as well as the stage of development. This will assist them to make intelligent choices about treatments. The Breast Cancer Survival Manual by John Link, M.D. is an excellent source for interpreting biopsy and other lab reports, as well as explaining the currently available treatments for tumor removal, follow-up treatments, as well as reconstruction. Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book is also helpful.

* Request from members of a local breast cancer support group, or friends who have had breast cancer, their recommendations of physicians. * Ask other women who have been recently treated for breast cancer (search local newspapers, telephone guides, or the internet for breast cancer support groups - either in your own community or online) about their treatments and their level of satisfaction about those treatments. 

* Be a partner with your physicians in identifying the most effective treatment. Ask one of the physicians, (among the surgeon, oncologist, plastic surgeon, radiologist and the primary physician) to be the team leader. That is, to have all information channeled through this one physician, who in turn, accepts the responsibility of keeping you informed. 

* Prior to surgical  treatment, a woman can expect that much of her emotional and intellectual energy will be spent searching for an effective treatment. After surgery is past, she will likely begin to confront the feelings she has around the loss of one or both breasts, and the intensified awareness of her own mortality. (An analogy: first you rescue the child who has wandered into the path of an oncoming truck. Then you sit down on the curb and cry about what just happened.) Questions will come up at this time that she wasn’t able to address during the previous period of anxiety. During this time, I began a process of re-evaluation of how I spend my time (work, family,  social, Baha’i activities, etc.) and with whom I spend that time with.

* Ask questions, no matter how hard/gruesome/embarrassing they seem. For me, I wanted to know what had happened to my amputated breast [and asked an o.r. nurse]. The topic of post-surgical sexuality was openly discussed in a support group, with much tenderness and humor. Staying private with unanswered questions leads to sleepless nights, and possibly depression.

* Allow family and friends to help. This is not a time to be proud, or insist that you don’t want to bother people. It is not a time for embarrassment. People want to help you, and you will do them a great service in allowing them to do so. Choose your team wisely. Some close friends or family will be able to accompany you to the hospital and stay with you for the duration, helping with intimate details of your care. Others may be able to cook meals for you and your family, or offer child-care. Be wise in what you request, being aware of what their capacities are.

* Request prayers for your full recovery from the Baha’i community, as well as from other friends. You will allow them to be helpful, and you will feel supported by their participation. The power of their prayers will help to sustain you during the toughest of times. For me, knowing that prayers were being said on my behalf during the entire length of my surgery (about seven hours) helped me face the surgery with some calmness. I felt that everything was in the hands of God, and the doctors I had chosen. 

* Anticipate delightfully unexpected gifts from those who love you, both the known and the unknown. Prior to my surgery, a Baha’i woman in Bulgaria (I live in the US) created a small painting while saying the Long Healing Prayer, and sent it to me in time for my surgery. She had heard of me through a mutual friend. A woman who works with my husband, and whom I had never met, made a colorful afghan to brighten my room and keep me warm during my convalescence. Countless neighbors and friends offered meals and sent cards and flowers. I recently moved to this neighborhood, and was amazed by their generosity. One neighbor, who was harboring a grudge against me for a misunderstanding, overcame her reluctance to speak to me and came to my home with home-baked bread and good wishes. The illness became a means of healing this misunderstanding.

* Be aware that when breast cancer is diagnosed in the early stages (through regular examination and mammograms) the survival rates are excellent. (Because my cancer was diagnosed early, my expected five-year survival is 90%). But even cases where there is metastasis (spreading to other parts of the body), there is a variety of treatments, and this too can be managed. With each passing year improved treatments ensure more effective outcomes. I am not saying it is not a serious disease, or that an unfavorable outcome will not occur, but that a diagnosis of cancer does not necessarily mean a death sentence. For many women, breast cancer has become a manageable disease with a good prognosis. 

I hope these observations are of some assistance to anyone who is facing this difficult trial. For me, I am the third of my sisters to get this diagnosis and I have had a previous, unrelated cancer. One of my sisters has survived even though her cancer was diagnosed in an advanced stage. The other  has not. The past few years have not been easy ones for us. However, it has been a time of developing spiritual qualities necessary for coping with what is, for appreciating the friendship and love of family and friends and accepting the challenges that are put in our paths.


Often physical sickness draws man nearer unto his Maker, suffers his heart to be made empty of all worldly desires until it becomes tender and sympathetic toward all sufferers and compassionate to all creatures. Although physical diseases cause man to suffer temporarily, yet they do not touch his spirit. Nay, rather, they contribute toward the divine purpose; that is, spiritual susceptibilities will be created in his heart. (Words attributed to Abdu'l-Baha, from the diary of Ahmad Sohrab, Star of the West, vol. 8, no. 18, p. 231)





By Anna Crawford, Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands

I am writing this response to the question of the month (Volume 5, Issue #1), as my experiences with Breast Cancer are unique and very different from the normal protocol.

Three years ago May 1998, a lump appeared in my right breast that seemed to come up over night. The wait for almost 6 months for an appointment for a mammogram on another island was difficult. (We are pioneering on a rather isolated place). I became acquainted with a Naturopathic doctor, just starting out, on Tinian, and she treated me with herbs and poultices, and changed my diet while waiting. The mammogram showed a large lump. A biopsy was taken which showed I had breast cancer. Surgery was scheduled to remove the lump as directed by my naturopathic doctor friend. My decision to refuse any chemotherapy, radiation or Tamoxifen had been made years ago. 

Lumpectomy surgery was performed and seven lymph nodes were removed. The lab test on the removed tissue revealed that I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, stage three, metastases, high hormone, receptive cancer. Against the recommendations of the surgeons and technicians, I adamantly, refused chemo-therapy and radiation treatments.

A year later a melanoma on my neck was removed and a year after that another very small lump was removed from the breast area. Each time the surgeon pushed the use of chemo-therapy, radiation and Tamoxifen, and each time I refused. Now to the interesting and important part: 

The night before surgery I did not sleep very well, with a lot of tossing and turning. Sometime during the night Abdu'l-Bahá appeared to me and He said that I was pioneering for the Faith on Tinian and that He wanted me to pioneer for health by eating simple foods. I was so excited that I bounced around to wake up my husband. It might have been easier just to wake him.  The "dream" or "vision" or whatever it was, reinforced my decision about treatment. After all, we can trust Abdu'l-Bahá, can't we? There was no doubt now about what to do.

"It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reached perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature." (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 257-59)

Many friends and family prayed for me and I was blessed with really good experiences in the hospital, staying 3 days instead of the 5 days they projected. Also there was no pain at all. After surgery I had to figure out the best treatment. My doctor is now in Hawaii where she has started a new practice. (Last year, she was voted the best natural healer on her island.)

First, and most important is my attitude. That was easily taken care of by prayer, reading from the Writings and interaction with friends. My husband is very supportive. I do not fear cancer or death. After all, I am a long time Baha'i and trust in the teachings of Baha'u'llah. He promises that He will not give me anything that I can't handle. I live with that knowledge and sometimes apprehension, but it doesn’t last long. I tried to join some of the cancer lists but found them too depressing and very negative and was led to the Baha'i women's list, which is a life saver for me. I have made good friends, love them all and know they love and care for me. It is all by e-mail, but a real life line. The prayers have made a huge difference in my surgeries and my healing. My appreciation is boundless and a debt that I could never repay except by living the life and to pray for others with all the love I can muster. 

The second thing I had to deal with was my diet. It was awful by my present standards, but better than most. I have eliminated red meat, chicken (has hormones in it) night shade vegetables, except tomatoes, which have good things in it for cancer patients. I have, more or less, eliminated processed foods, sugars, sodas and the other junk food I craved. I use only olive oil, even in baking, and avoid any "bad" fats. Now I eat fish, goat when I can get it, fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, etc. We do not get many vegetables here, but I seem to manage. My diet is good, but I do cheat sometimes, and my body sure lets me know when I do. Diet is an evolving process that  daily gets better.

The third blessing is my herbal treatment. I have a wonderful local friend who is a medex-doctor and takes the tests that are necessary and gives the results to my Naturopathic Doctor (ND) for her review and proposed treatment. This is a real bounty for me since the traditional physicians here are so set on my being treated their way. Lately when they say it, I say "Look at me, do I look sick"? What can they say. I take a number of herbs, rotating them every couple of months so my immune system stays healthy and does not become dependant on any one herb. I also take standard vitamins and minerals that also enhances my immune system. All medications are with phone consultation with my ND.

Since I have discovered this cancer, I have lived a full life. I have only minor problems which may have to due mostly with my age since I am 75 years old. The quality of life has been very good, with almost no ill days. I think I am in remission although I don't know. I give talks to the schools on cancer, seminars for the Women’s Affairs Office on health and diet, and write study guides for deepening. I have made my choice - I know where I am going. I am walking my chosen highway and know the destination.

I would like to know if any one else is going the "natural way" for cancer treatments. Any one may write to me by e-mail if they desire - My doctor says even with her natural approach to cancer treatments, I am the only one she is treating this way.




By ruie Mullins, U.S.A.

Hello, my name is ruie Mullins and I am hearing impaired. "Oh, I'm so sorry", is usually the response I get. I'm not always sure why the person is sorry, but I reply with either "thank you" or "it's not your fault" and then I give a little laugh. On one occasion I was shopping in a local store...the sales clerk came up behind me and not knowing my circumstances, said "are you having a nice day". I felt her presence and turned and said the usual, "no thanks, I'm just looking." With which she looked askance and replied in a disgusted tone "I didn't ask you if you needed help, I asked you if you were having a nice day!" I said "oh I'm sorry, I'm hearing impaired." She threw up her hands and as she walked away with a frown on her face, she said loudly (so even I could hear her) WHATEVER!!

It's been coming on for the last 18 years. To make a long story short, in the middle of the night, I awoke with the most crushing migraine headache. So, I crawled out of bed and went to the medicine cabinet...uh oh, no Midrin, my migraine prescription, what I'll do is have some Sinaid. I'll take three of those to help, maybe this is just a sinus headache and not a migraine. Nope, it's now 4 o'clock and the "migraine" is worsening and the pain is unbearable. Back to the medicine cabinet...hmm I'll take more Sinaid and some aspirin. By six o'clock in the morning I was barely able to stand and the pain was worse than unbearable. I had to go to an emergency room and get a shot of something, anything. So I woke my son (I was then a single, working parent with six children) and asked him to walk with me to the hospital, St. John's in Santa Monica, which was just a few blocks away. I knew I couldn't drive as my vision was blurred.

St. John's took a full head scan and nothing showed. However, I had managed to dry up every cavity in my head and neck and the lack of natural moisture accounted for the increasing pain. They couldn't give me anything for the pain as I had overdosed on my own prescription of Sinaid. They sent me home and said I would just have to bear it out, it would soon subside and the relief of knowing it was nothing more serious than a migraine, the stress of the pain did begin to subside. I didn't get to work that day, nor for the next six or seven days. I lost my hearing for almost a week and when it came back, I was left with tinnitus, a noise in my head that I have heard consistently without a break. The House Clinic for the Deaf in Los Angeles gave me a diagnosis...I had a toxic reaction to the self prescribed medication that started the nerves in my ears to die off. The ringing was a signal of what was happening. Even today with the most technical discoveries, a hearing aid will only magnify sound but will not stop the process of dying nerves. I am now totally deaf in my left ear and the right ear is getting worse. As a musician, it has been devastating as I have been a jazz/blues vocalist for most of my life. However, I am adjusting by turning to other endeavors of writing, drawing and weaving because you don't have to hear to do these things. I never thought I would ever have anything in common with Beethoven...I can still hear music in my head and that sustains me. 

I have now become an advocate for the hearing impaired in the Baha'i community. You cannot imagine my exasperation when I attend Feast to embrace the spirit of it and find I cannot understand a word that is being uttered during prayers and consultation. I am able to still have a one on one conversation. Yet, by the time the social portion of Feast comes around, I am so fatigued from the frustration of trying to hear what has been said, I find I have no energy left to socialize and may leave Feast early. I try not to do that too often, it depends on my energy. I also do not attend Baha'i school as often for the same reasons. Most people have not taken a course in speech or drama in school and so they have not learned the art of projection. They read with heads bowed, voice and mouth toward the floor with no way to read the face or lips of the person speaking. Very rarely is a microphone offered or available at Feast which would be a dearly blessed addition for those of us who are hearing impaired. You see, most people will not wear a hearing aid and don't like to admit they can't hear because others will consider it a manifestation of getting old. 

My goal this year, is to have firesides that include the hearing impaired and the deaf with a signing interpreter available and, to encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies, Feasts and Baha'i Schools to offer a sound system and to use it, so that everyone can take part. How often I have decided to go to school and find there is a mike available, but the speakers are not using it! I have on occasion talked to the person assisting school that day and told them how important it was to use the mike only to be told "it's a small group this morning and the readers don't like to use the mike". And, I have walked away practically in tears.

I am diligently working with my present community and others to become fully aware of the things that they can do. Nevertheless, it is a slow process and I know it is not because they don't care, but more that they are so overwhelmed with so many responsibilities, it slips their mind. Things we can do to assist the hearing impaired and the deaf:

- Have readers at Feast stand, preferably at the front of the group where everyone can see their faces and if necessary read their lips so that all can absorb and take part in the bounty of Feast.
- Offer a signing interpreter at Feasts and Firesides.
- Always have a microphone available.
- Whether in a private home or hall, group chairs so that all can face the speaker.
- Advise those sponsoring Feast how important it is to project their voices (they don't have to shout) so that all can hear what is being said. 

You may find that when consultation comes around  at Feast, more will partake because they have been able to hear or understand what has been said previously. Or, perhaps they will partake because the ability to hear prayers and writings of Baha'u'llah has given them such joy, they want to participate.

I pass this tidbit of information on to you, the readers...hoping you will pass this on to others in your communities and get started on a campaign to educate people about the needs of the hearing impaired population and to make our communities more accessible so they will feel welcome. This quotation confirms the responsibilities of the community,"...And other members who for valid reasons are incapacitated - the blind, the old, the deaf - their comfort must be looked after. In the  village no one will remain in need or in want. All will live in the utmost comfort and welfare." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 40)

(Editor's Note: It is estimated that about 10% of the population have some degree of hearing loss. More than 50% of seniors over 65 years of age have presbycusis hearing loss. Due to congenital deafness, I have extensive personal and professional experience in this field and can appreciate ruie's story. I wish her well in her desire to be an advocate for hearing impaired individuals!

Over the years, my small community and I have managed to explore ways to adjust to my hearing needs through consultation and I have been comfortable with these techniques which have worked well for me. It is important to remember that it is different for each person.

- At Assembly meetings and Feasts, there is an empty seat beside me so people can sit on the chair and then read out loud the prayers, letters and correspondences. This way, I can read the written words.
- I wear an amplification system called the FM system which is connected to my hearing aids and it makes everything much clearer and louder. 
- We make sure there is sufficient lighting.
- People put up his/her hands when speaking and to face me so I can lipread them. I need to ask people to repeat when I do not understand what is being said. From time to time, I will need to remind them these coping strategies because they do forget, which is natural. After all, we are reminded in the Baha'i writings many times the importance to encourage, love and care for each other and we do forget! I have had my share of frustrations and need to keep reminding myself that this is my job - to educate others on communications skills.)




A wonderful place for learning about all types of cancers, treatments, and support groups is the American Cancer Society. They can be found at or 1-800-ACS-2345. 
- Jo Clifton




Over the past eighteen years we have had extensive consultations with Indigenous Elder and Spiritual Leaders from across North America, and more recently with Indigenous peoples across the Americas. These Guiding Principles for Building a Sustainable World are now at the core of the Reunion of the Condor and Eagle with the Jaguar and the Boa International Indigenous Trade and Social Development Agreements and Unity Pacts that now formally unite more than 8 million Indigenous people across the Caribbean, North America, Mexico and Ecuador. We expect this Reunion to grow rapidly with our First Reunion of the Condor and Eagle with the Boa and Jaguar Indigenous Action Summit in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean from December 4-9, 2001. If you have any questions about this reunion, please feel free to contact us for more information. 
By Phil Lane Jr., Four Worlds International Institute for Human and Community Development, website:




All of us have lost people who have been very special in our lives and the grieving process can be very difficult and painful to go through. In the November issue, we will explore the grieving process, guidelines to help a child through grief, how we can transform and liberate our spirit through grief and develop a deeper understanding of life after death. Also, we often talk about "unfinished business" from our past, which refers to losses which we have not completed grieving. Please share your experiences, comments, thoughts and stories on this subject.




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"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances  Mezei by e-mail: -- .


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