Note from Dr Craig: Below, is my letter to Oprah Winfrey sharing my healing journey story and asking for help with my mission to help the world heal. I am fairly sure it was the spring of 2006, but I am not absolutely certain. I had recently experienced a miraculous period of healing and strengthening, which would eventually be followed by a decline into hospice and near death. Thank God, and with the support of my mother, I was able to have a breakthrough in healing and was discharged from hospice in the beginning of June 2009. Through unbelievable determination and hard work, I am now weeks away from giving major Hollywood studios including the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) an opportunity to pick up my remarkable and historic THE HEALERS television series. Wouldn’t it be interesting if I’m the one who ends up helping Oprah with THE HEALERS, which I foresee as becoming a breakaway hit. I hope you enjoy my healing journey story below:
You have touched my heart many times, stimulating healing tears, especially in the 13 years since my ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) diagnosis. I desire to make a heart connection with you and your audience by sharing my healing story.
In my early 20’s, athletic, muscular, and a student of philosophy, I was having a discussion with a friend about what many would consider to be a most fearful situation. Would I find life worth living if I had ALS and had all of my mental capacity but was completely paralyzed and unable to speak?
Flash forward. 30 years old (in 1994), I receive the ALS diagnosis. Suddenly, it is as if I am enrolled in a class called, “Facing Horrific Fears about Death and Losses in the Body.” The class description is breathtakingly shocking, “All students will experience progressive deterioration of the nerves and muscles. Most will pass away within 3 to 5 years. Everyone will invariably die from wasting of the muscles that allow him or her to breathe. 100% graduation rate guaranteed. We repeat: Death through wasting of the body is guaranteed.”
“Hey, I do not remember signing up for this! The school’s computer must have made a mistake.” No. I came to realize I was in this class, like it or not. Apparently, the only way to drop this class would be to commit suicide.
I was willing to live with the stated ALS curriculum but was determined to do everything in my ability with mind, body and spirit to defy this curriculum and to demonstrate God’s healing power. I unyieldingly pursued healing holistically: I prayed to know God better, immersed myself in spiritual healing, delved into the depths of my mental and emotional life with intensive psychotherapy, and utilized numerous physical approaches. With the support of others and faith in the possibility of physical healing, I held to this vision. The relentless thief, ALS, was indeed slowed and would not defeat me in the completion of a dream that began in high school—earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Yet, for a dozen or so years I would face the fear involved in watching my body, season by season, wither and become more debilitated. Terror unpredictably forced itself into my awareness during these many years. I sometimes felt like I was hanging on for my dear life, desperately grasping for hope with withering hands whose fingers were involuntarily curling. Less than 1 1/2 years ago I developed pneumonia and was gasping for hope as I heard the examining physician tell my girlfriend that, given what ALS had done to my breathing capacity, I was closer to needing a ventilator. He explained that it was only a matter of buying some time. My heart kept breaking open.
Living with unending and progressive losses, I have sometimes protectively covered my heart and entered the realm of emotional numbness. The veiled heart does not rejoice at life, though. Blessedly, through a humbling learning process, I more often open the door to enter the intense fire of emotional pain. Then, the love of God, through others and myself, comes to enliven, fill and expand my heart. In this way, the breaking of my heart has become an opportunity for me to experience new levels of love. I had no idea that the relentless thief ALS would also be a relentless teacher.
No matter how paralyzed my body would become, ALS would not be able to paralyze my ability to repeatedly choose to open my heart and to be moved by love. I cry tears of gratitude for the giving and receiving of love with others, which is, and has been paramount to my learning and healing on every level. Facing death with awareness has led to a more profound knowing of my true identity, that which never dies—the spiritual Self. If I had to choose between reclaiming the athletic, fully functioning body that existed before ALS, and having the expansiveness, clarity and depth of awareness that resulted from facing and embracing this challenge, I would choose the latter.
By grace, I do not have to make this choice. Physical strengthening has begun to accompany my emotional, mental, and spiritual transformation. This gradual physical metamorphosis is a result of 13 years of intense determination to know God’s Will, and to find meaning in facing the evolving ALS challenge. I have never given up, not even when my body’s reflection in the bathroom mirror reminded me of photographs of concentration camp survivors—protruding ribs and bones next to valleys where muscle once existed.
After losing well over 40 pounds of muscle and looking like skin and bones, I have finally begun to gain muscle mass. I spend nearly eight hours a week in a rehab gym and my strength is improving every week. On one machine, I was able to push down only 10 pounds one year ago but now I am pushing down 50 pounds. My physician is amazed at how the muscles are filling in throughout my body, especially in my back. In the last six months, I have gained 14 pounds. Though the gain in strength has not yet translated into functional improvement in my daily living, my vision is that this will happen.
My heart has repeatedly been moved when people tell me how much my healing journey has touched their hearts and inspired them. Even though I cannot currently type, my intension is to write an inspiring book that will touch many hearts.
Oprah, I am requesting that you assist me in finding funds to pay for a typist who will patiently type my healing story as I work to speak as clearly as I am able (I currently have a few hours of volunteer typing help each week). I also ask that you consider assisting me in making a connection with someone who will be able to help me publish this healing journey story.
An important part of my story involves the remarkable and humble support I have received from my mother. Oprah, I know that you love heartfelt stories about mothers, and this is a very special one. My mother, who is in her early sixties, works 50-60 hours each week as a waitress to support herself and help me the best she can.
Ten years ago, my grandmother left my mother, who has no retirement, an inheritance of over $350,000. She continued to toil as a waitress, only using the inheritance to pay for my home helpers and for my health care needs. The inheritance has been used up in helping me.
Without fail, every single week, year after year, on her day off she makes a three hour round trip to my apartment and lovingly spends 12 hours helping me: doing laundry, housecleaning, helping with paperwork, shopping and errands, dressing and shaving me, and so much more. My mother leaves after 9 p.m. and I feel some sadness knowing that she will have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. on the following morning for work.
When my mother had a dislocated hip and a separated shoulder, she was unable to take a couple of days off from waitressing because she would not be able to pay her medical bills, which included payment for skin cancer surgery. My heart broke as I watched her cancer spread because she had to wait to make enough money before she could have the surgery.
My mother’s love has been instrumental in my remarkable healing. I find myself sobbing tears of gratitude feeling overwhelmed by the depths of my mother’s love and willingness to do anything to help her son stay alive and heal. To me, this demonstration of love is equally, if not more, inspiring as my beginning to reverse ALS. I feel great value in this heartfelt mother story being shared as part of my healing story.
I believe that when we are healed we are never healed alone, and my mother repeatedly tells me how I have taught her so much and have helped her heal. An important theme in my book will be how my healing journey has been reciprocally connected with the healing journeys of others in my life.
I have enclosed a two-page essay, “Facing the Unthinkable—ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)—with Passion and Determination: How My Heart and Mind Have Been Transformed.” I wrote this essay, which tells more about my healing story, in the months before the amazing changes, mentioned above, began to occur.
Oprah, if your eyes are actually reading this letter, I am blessed with another miracle, given how many letters you receive. I feel joyful as I imagine you and I talking in a heartfelt and inspiring way about the miraculous healing that is taking place, and being shared, in my life. Anything is possible with the Law of Attraction.