Experience With Hodgkin’s Disease
By Charles R. Atkins
(Excerpted from the May 1997 Living Buddhism, page 13)
At the beginning of 1987 when I was 36 years old, I experienced a rapid deterioration of health. I had severe back pain, drenching night sweats, insatiable itching, chills, nausea and constant fatigue.
By the time all the symptoms had reached their peak, I was diagnosed with fourth-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given a dismal prognosis. Cancerous tumors were behind my ear, on both sides of my neck, in my sternum and abdomen, with a golf-ball-sized tumor fused into my spine. A team of oncologists recommended a six-cycle regimen of aggressive combination chemotherapy followed by complete nodal irradiation.
I had practiced Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for thirteen years and began to apply the method of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in a life-and-death battle with my illness and the side effects of treatment.
With the blessing of my doctors, I followed their protocol to the letter and used chanting to bolster my immune system. I imagined my white blood cells exploding with spiritual energy like the halos of holy light seen in religious paintings. Every morning and evening I would imagine my insides bathed in holy light that would destroy cancer cells and revitalize healthy cells.
Four months into my treatment, I became deathly ill. Suffering from a high fever and compromised immune system, I was hospitalized in an isolation room, unable to continue further treatment. Feeling that death was rapidly approaching, I asked visitors to leave and began to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with all the strength I had left, aspiring to crown my life with victory.
Early in the morning of the second day of hospitalization, I had a near-death experience where it seemed I was greeted by thousands of Buddhas who took me on a fantastic journey, “a nirvana of eternal light.” After what seemed like a hundred years, but was in actuality only several minutes, I awoke happy and refreshed. My fever had broken and I felt revitalized inside. Two days after this near-death experience, I was given a CT scan that indicated there was no more evidence of cancer.
I have been cancer-free and in perfect health since 1987.