Bears’ Surprising and Unorthodox Journey With Advanced Metastatic Cancer (Stage 4)
Dear Family of Choice – We’ve created this page for all of you who have so loved the Institute, love Option Process®, love The Son-Rise Program® for Autism, and have so loved Bears and Samahria. We want you to hold hands with us, be informed, and be inspired as Bears continues his journey with advanced stage 4 cancer (no chemo/no radiation).
We will use this page to give important updates, post letters, share stories and most importantly, to celebrate Bears and deeply connect with our family of choice, who are embracing and living the Option Process lifestyle.
With love – The Option Institute Staff
Updates:UPDATE FROM BEARS – 3/21/2023 (The Latest)
Stage 4 metastatic cancer, given 5 days to live 12 months ago UPDATE FROM BEARS – 2/19/2023
Bears’ Core Principles for Staying Alive UPDATE FROM BEARS – 1/30/2023
Bears’ Exciting Update, For the Love of Samahria – Including Fun Video UPDATE FROM BEARS – 12/19/2022
“We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process” UPDATE FROM BEARS – 11/1/2022
Medical Mystery and Wonder!! UPDATE FROM BEARS – 9/23/2022
New ‘Twists and Turns’ UPDATE FROM BEARS – 8/4/2022
“YES… THIS IS ME, BEARS, STILL ALIVE UPDATE FROM BEARS – 7/13/2022
My Current Medical Reality, Including Surprises UPDATE FROM BEARS – 6/20/2022
Mass. General Hospital: “Strangest Case They Have Ever Seen” UPDATE FROM BEARS – 6/6/2022 (The Beginning)
“5 Days to 5 Weeks to Live” Initial Letter About Bears to Option Institute/Son-Rise Program Participants & Friends – 5/11/2022
Support Letters from Participants and Friends
Bears’ Off-The-Charts Update On Bears – 3/21/2023 (Stage 4 metastatic cancer, given 5 days to live 12 months ago)
By choice, no chemo/no nothing – still robustly alive, still doing my own journey!!!New Healing Program Being Considered (read more below including update on Bears from Massachusetts General Hospital) Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher Endowed Chair, Clinical Excellence in Nephrology Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm, Medical Services, Massahusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School March 18, 2023 Dear Bears, Just a brief update on our discussions on your excellent progress. Since our last communication, we have continued to manage you conservatively, understanding that the underlying diagnosis is that of lymphoma (stage 4 metastatic cancer). I am pleased that you are doing extremely well and have no evidence of disease either by your recent imaging studies or your labs. We have agreed that this is impressive considering that you have never received chemotherapy (by your own choice). You only received two doses of Zometa administered to primarily manage your dangerously high calcium level 11 months ago when you had been hospitalized and told that you had 5 days to 5 weeks to live. I do believe that we will continue to monitor your blood tests and imaging studies as we have scheduled. I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you. Yours sincerely, Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD Samahria and I and the awesome staff of the Option Institute are considering offering a newly designed program that will use the model Samahria and I created (which is based on everything we have taught for over 40 years) for dealing with impending death/coming out of hospice/creating a design for possible healing and now (at least for now) staying so robustly alive. Part of this is all about attitude (our thoughts, our choosing optimism until the last breath), changing the beliefs we hold to create ones that will be nourishing, and taking practical steps (food, movement/exercise, visualizations, prayer, etc.). This is super challenging for anyone dealing with these kinds of difficult health issues personally or with loved ones faced with such concerns. Please share with others. Link to fun video just recorded. “Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder / President of the Option Institute Autism Treatment Center of America, and The Son-Rise Program Author of Happiness Is A Choice and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues
Bears’ Core Principles for Staying Alive – 2/20/2023 “FUN PHOTO – okay…yes, this is one meal among several that I consume daily. Some friends have seen me consume such plates of food and said: UGH.
I say: WOW. (I currently eat for purpose, not for taste…and it has been transformative) “Given 5 Days to 5 Weeks to LIVE: Massive metastatic cancer/organ failure, Etc. Went home to hospice but then decided to leave hospice and see if I could program myself to live…and to flourish. Now, almost l0 months later….and robustly still alive with no chemo/no radiation/no intervention. We never made war on cancer….we sent the cancer cells our love (really/sincerely) – and invited them to leave when their ready.
“Guideposts of my program: I created and continue to do for myself:
(Envisioning A New Program for You)
- attitude – prioritizing love and happiness in very specific ways
- creating clear purpose 24/7 with clear focus
- maximizing the experience and expression of gratitude
- eating special foods and combinations of odd and unusual foods
- exercising and creating daily movement protocols
- visualizations and prayers (with a worldwide community of Option Institute/ Son-Rise Program folks)
- teaching ourselves (Samahria and me) how to most effectively filter through all the information and ‘misinformation’ so we can choose clearly what we want (and what we do not want).
Bears’ Exciting Update on Bears – Including Fun Video – 1/30/2023“Happily, and still robustly alive on January 26, 2023. So grateful. So honored to be able to write to all of you. Continued healing (or, we might say for now — continuing to rock’n roll), still no medical intervention (no chemo/no radiation), teaching again for many months now, working with individuals and families…. and having the best time at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America). “And so, so, so grateful and delighted to walk this path with many who have chosen to love me… and the biggest spirit and sunshine is my best partner and dearest friend and most caring spirit/lover in my life for over six decades (yes, yes, that’s a sweet and super long expanse of time) You guys know her bright light (as she has been for me, she has been for so many of you). “Love you, Samahria, and I am so grateful that we continue to hold hands so tightly as we walk this new road together.” Love and smiles, Bears Barry Neil Kaufman PS: CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS FUN VIDEO! …more love from Bears
Bears’ Winter Update – 12/19/2022 Fun data – right to the point! “Summary of the last few weeks (for those who follow my journey and want updates). Again…given 5 days to 5 weeks to live in April (which is almost 8 months ago). No medical intervention since my mid-April hospitalization (no chemo, etc. – zip, zero – though I was told to start chemotherapy many months ago). My most recent scans continue to show further meaningful improvement… continued retreat and even some further disappearance of the stage 4 metastatic lesions throughout my body. And nothing growing larger. Additionally, healing is now occurring in my bones and super positive blood workups for many months now (no signs of continued disease process noted in the blood profiles).
“I said to my main Mass. Gen doctor… I am doing really well. And then he laughed and said, ‘You are doing really, really, really, really well!’ Another consulting physician thought my scans were ‘spectacular,’ and another said – ‘I don’t really see any disease process in these latest scans.’ Another said: ‘We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process happening without chemo or other intervention… but we are delighted for you.’”
“Yes, yes…I am still alive, robustly alive. “Still much to do to continue this adventure. We (Samahria and I) are very focused on what we are doing (and what I am doing 24/7 with dedication and clear purpose). We love being able to teach again in programs and to work again with families and individual folks – hurrah! Still very passionately alive (and still, it is one day at a time). Thank you all for loving and supporting us and for all your kind notes, messages, and donations to our work at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America/Son-Rise Program.” With so much love and gratitude to all of you, Bears (and Samahria) PS: And thank you/thank you for your continued prayers…..we do believe your prayers are very much part of my healing. We always love hearing from you. Please feel free to write me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process”
Medical Mystery and Wonder!! – 11/1/2022Enjoy this latest update from Bears’ Doctor regarding his cancer journey… with reflections from Bears and Samahria below.
Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher Endowed Chair, Clinical Excellence in Nephrology Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm, Medical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School October 30, 2022 “Dear Bears, “For a guy with a 5-day life expectancy 7 months ago, you are not doing badly!! “I have had the chance to review your progress with the attending oncologist/lymphoma specialist and it is important to stress how pleasantly surprised we both are. “In essence, we are still quite convinced that the pathology is related to a B cell lymphoma and that you have done spectacularly well in the past 6 months with no chemotherapy. “At the time of your original presentation to the Connecticut hospital, you were placed in the ICU with severe elevation of calcium, delirium, acute kidney failure, multiple bone lesions suggesting cancer and although they did not have the diagnosis then, they believed that you had terminal cancer. They actually believed that regardless of the kind of cancer you may have, your kidney condition and your medical issues would not permit you to get treatment. They believed that the appropriate course of action was to send you home with hospice. “As we have repeatedly stressed, you got the best of hospice care possible from the support and love from everyone around you. Your hard work, fierce determination and positive attitude have made you our Miracle Man!! “In the past 6 months, without therapy, laboratory and imaging studies have continue to indicate that the tumors are regressing. The serial PET/CT scans are obviously the most dramatic statements of progress. There has been no new lesions and the existing liver lesions and bone lesions are all showing signs of regression. 10/22/22 PET summary: Re-demonstrated bony lesions as seen on previous scans, similar in appearance on CT images, now with sclerotic changes associated with healing pathologic fractures. PET shows decreased avidity of lesions, the most avid of which remaining is the manubrium (previously 2x hepatic reference, now approximately equal to hepatic reference). “We clearly do not have good explanation about this welcome course of events but are, at this point, happy to continue to monitor. “More importantly, you are in the best physical and mental condition you have been in for decades. “While one should never underestimate the power of the lymphoma, it is clear that we are currently on a winning streak and is doubling down yet again on your projected life expectancy. “I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you, I remain” Yours sincerely, Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD
7 Month Mark
Bears’ Update on Bears (with Samahria)
- “I am still robustly alive and beyond inspired and grateful.
- “Above is the most up-to-date summary from my key physician at Mass. Gen. Hospital in Boston (written Sunday Night, 10/29/2022).
- “My further thoughts – profound gratitude and love and joy…and reflections, like ‘yes, thank you’ to God and the universe for offering Samahria and I this unique opportunity,
- “Love and conviction for the principles we have created and taught (which we have shared with you in previous updates) with the Option Process and The Son-Rise Program for 45 plus years worldwide….and now to apply every/every aspect of those teachings when we were (and still are) life/death challenged.
- “Your prayers…so many of you have offered your prayers daily…and we believe that is a significant/significant part of this unfolding event (please keep them coming).
- “While one may choose to never underestimate the power of cancer…one may also choose to never underestimate the power of beliefs.
- “And yes, every day….every minute and every second can be a celebration – all each of us has, and all that Samahria and I have, as well, is today. This very moment. If I am not here tomorrow…oh my gosh, no regrets but so much love and gratitude to live this unfolding version of our lives. One day at a time.”
“Remember, Stage 4 Massive Metastatic Cancer… 5 days to 5 weeks to live. That was the diagnosis and prognosis during my hospitalization almost 5 months ago. Since I am writing this, you can see I am very much alive (and really healing and doing well without any medical intervention since that hospitalization in April, 2022 – no chemo, no radiation… just my own personal stay-alive purposeful action plan).
New ‘Twists and Turns’ – 9/23/2022
“The surprising new ‘twists and turns’.My physician(s) decided to re-analyze the very first bone biopsy I had about 5 months ago…which, at that time, did not yield any identifiable cancer cells. Zero. Zip. “However, in the new reanalysis just done a few weeks ago, they believe they have found a minuscule amount of fast growing ‘crushed’ lymphoma cells and they have guided me to start chemotherapy immediately. “But wait. That biopsy into my body was originally almost 5 months ago, and after being released from the hospital, I have gained so much strength and healing, and now feel as sharp as I have ever felt in my life (sincerely)…without any medical intervention since that hospitalization. “If I have a few fast-growing Stage 4 lymphoma cells, shouldn’t I be dead by now…or at least super sick, since I have had no treatment? But I am neither dead nor super sick right now. And all my PET/CT scans suggest healing (liver all okay now), and other bone lesions either staying the same or getting smaller. “Still, the doctors (kind, very sincere and caring) insisted that the lymphoma is being masked and will start to grow. But, again, what about these 5 months and me, right now, feeling wonderful as I write to all of you? Shouldn’t this be part of the clinical equation? Hmmmm! Fascinating! “Next unexplained phenomenon – how do we know the minuscule amount of lymphoma cells are even there anymore? Stage 4. Shouldn’t it have spread quite profoundly through my body? But if we check out the repeated scans, no such thing happened thus far. And yes, we plan to take another scan in the future months. “I said to one of my doctors, ‘If I don’t do chemo, what is the worst thing that could happen? Now…don’t laugh…. but I am smiling…I guess I could die.’ Remember – about 5 months ago, I was in hospice and made quick friends with death…as did the most amazing person in my life, Samahria. But, oh my gosh, I left hospice and didn’t die in 5 days or 5 weeks. I redirected my focus and decided to program myself, as best I could, to live. “Kind of fun: I am still living and so grateful. Living big time in the passion of The Son-Rise Program/Option attitude (maximizing love every moment, being super present, filling myself with gratitude, living on purpose with purpose), eating super differently, exercising which helped me regain my strength, praying and receiving all your daily prayers (which I believe is one of the important keys to my healing). “Wow… so wonderful writing this to all of you. Why? I can wrap myself in all your love, prayers, and kind words. I can wrap myself into my living experience. And these past months have been among the truly sweet, most delicious, and nourishing experiences of my life. I am doing my best to continue to live and thrive. I am living with the most dedicated, daring, and loving person that I have known – Samahria. And, wow, now I am beginning to teach and do individual sessions with people again! “Samahria and I will stay the course… continuing to live the best days of our lives! Can something change…and we will then change direction? Sure. Right now, heads up high, follow our hearts (and thoughts), and keep reaching for the stars!” Love you all, Bears
“YES… THIS IS ME, BEARS, STILL ALIVE – 8/4/2022“YES, still grateful, happy and always maximizing the choice to be loving. “YES, always using the attitude and the tools from The Son-Rise Program® and Option Process® to guide me — questions, nourishing beliefs, clarity of purpose, persistence, love, and gratitude for what is)… “YES, to what is and evolving even if there are and were surprises along the way, like the doctors believing I would be dead within 5 days to 5 weeks in April… but I am still here almost months later and the ‘cancer’ seems to be retreating in some areas and not growing in other areas — all WITHOUT medical intervention. And I am working to regain all my strength but my clarity of purpose and passion is fully/fully alive. And then there are the prayers that many of you do daily for me and with me…. sincerely, that has made all the difference. Thank you for loving me, Samahria, and all the folks at the Option Institute and the Autism Treatment Center of America. “WE LOVE ALL OF YOU! Big time!” ‘Bears’ Barry Neil Kaufman
My Current Medical Reality, Including Surprises: – 7/13/2022
- “Lesions in the liver continue to get smaller and continue to heal (with no signs of cancer in the liver), although part of my original diagnoses was liver metastases.
- “The new scans from last week were compared with scans about 7 weeks ago… since I have not had any treatment, the expectations with pervasive metastatic cancer would be for all my lesions/tumors to have grown. Instead, all lesions have either stayed the same size while some have gotten smaller.
- “Also, my getting stronger physically (exercising, special diet, etc.) and continually experiencing super-sharp mental acuity, seemed at odds with my “condition.” No explanation for my doing so well when all medical expectations were the opposite. In fact, I had defied the original prognosis and the medical guidance at the end of April, that I realistically I had 5 days to 5 weeks to live. For me, attitude (Option Process/Son-Rise Program perspectives), purpose (creating beliefs that nourish and nurture – and set direction), to love, to feel and express gratitude… and receiving all those wonderful prayers worldwide coming (gifts from all of you) – are the essential component that have helped guide this unusual adventure.
- “Each and everyone involved in your case finds it perplexing,” said our core physician at Mass General Hospital in Boston. Remember, weeks previously that group of experts reviewing my situation essentially called this “the strangest case they have seen.” However, my core physician said: “tell your students and people who are praying for you to keep those prayers coming.”
- “All the lesions have caused “holes” in my bones throughout my body, including my spine – so being super careful right now is of prime importance… with my exercising and walking laps. Can these holes heal? Answer, for the moment, seemed to be “yes – sort of”.
- “All the doctors still believe I have advanced metastatic cancer… they just say they can’t find it (after taking biopsies three times). They use words about the scans like “suggests” or “concern for” or “suspicious of” this type or that type of cancer. The most frequently mentioned cancer is metastatic multiple myeloma.
“Now let’s jump into this past Friday:”
- “My case was then referred to hematology oncology department… to a specialist among a group of specialists in multiple myeloma.
- “That specialist said what others said… all the lesions/tumors should have grown (they did not…some got smaller), you should be feeling much worse (maybe not even alive)…. we taught him SBR (yes, we did – to explain our delight and playfulness with him. He was fascinated and could not believe the “guy” – me – on zoom with him was the same guy on the scans)…. and then he said, to our next surprise, “I don’t believe you have multiple myeloma.” Further, he didn’t have any answer as to what those scans really meant given the “me” in front of him. He now wanted to re-consult with others. He also wrote down the title of a book… ”Happiness Is A Choice.” He was young, thoughtful, intelligent and curious and seemed “stumped” for now.
- “I told him I was okay to die the next day after our consultation. He looked surprised. I said that doesn’t mean I want to die on Saturday but simply I was choosing not to resist while still building myself with the purpose to live. Resistance is dissonance. Eventually, I think he liked that… and wanted to know more about SBR vs. SR. Samahria and I, formally or informally, also shared about stimulus-belief-response (choice, freedom and happiness) verses stimulus-response (experiencing ourselves as if we are victims).
“Now let’s jump into some of the core Option Institute/Son-Rise Program Principles that we have taught for 50 years and have applied now.
- “From the Fearless Program – “Run toward your fears and/or every new challenge.” And keep your eyes wide open.
- “From Calm Amid Chaos – “Change is continuous” – so be in the moment and don’t hold on to the log in the river…swim with the current and not against it. Also, from Calm Amid Chaos, “The cause is in the future.” I know many of you adore this concept and it has helped you improve the quality of your lives. In our lives (and in the course), we get plenty of opportunities to understand and apply this life-changing concept.
- “From Power Dialogues Course (and book) – open our arms wide, practice acceptance with whatever the issue…and yes, keep asking Option Process questions to uncover and change our beliefs.
- “From the Son-Rise Program Start-Up (and Maximum Impact and New Frontiers Programs) – we don’t need to protect ourselves from what we don’t understand. Keep those arms open, practice acceptance and jump in – so we can understand and learn more – about ourselves, our children and the challenges and opportunities we face.
“I Am Still Alive. I Am Here Right Now.”“I could go on and on with reference points. But please know, sincerely, we are challenging everything we face in these few months… not because we want to be adversarial but because we decided to strive for a different outcome than what we were told and had been predicted. Hmm, I am smiling… remember all the doctors who said our son had a below 30 I.Q. and would never be able to talk. We decided to explore the possibility of a very different outcome based on very, very different beliefs. Ultimately, not only did he talk, demonstrate a near genius I.Q, graduate from a major Ivy League University… but became an author, teacher, and lecturer. And he is just one of so many children and adults, who, when approached with acceptance and deep love, have changed and flourished as students and participants in our courses. That is why we have created all these courses that you could attend if you so desire. “I am still alive. I am here right now. Remember, many medical folks thought I would be gone by now… and some still think that is on the table (sooner than later). However, in this moment (and that’s all any of us really have)… I am so excited and so grateful to be here in every unfolding second. Thank you for all your loving emails, internet posts and letters…. and, most important, for all your prayers.” Love and Huge Gratitude, Bears
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: “Strangest Case They Have Ever Seen”
6/20/2022Dear Wonderful Friends – really you are my family – and as such, I want to share something profound that is happening.
We can decide that new, even challenging experiences, can be used to empower what we teach (thoughts matter, beliefs matter, actions matter, prayers matter, LOVE matters) and rise to a higher and more wondrous level of ourselves. Something unanticipated has happened and, I believe, all of you are a very meaningful part of this “adventure.”This might just tickle your imagination (wow, it does mine) and allow you to dream bigger than you have ever dreamed before. This may also inspire you to want everything in spite of the evidence (like the Son-Rise Program moms and dads who have defied the prognoses of doctors and experts by working with their children… or the folks challenging trauma with the Option Process and then finding clarity and peace, even as others were so skeptical and unsupportive). We had asked Wendy Edwards (an Option Board member, a Son-Rise Program mom, a Wide-Awake Master Class student and doctor in her day-to-day life) to help us interpret and decipher the information we have been given from my medical files (there is tons of data, CAT scans, MRIs, etc. and biopsies and prognoses). When she studied all the medical data and read the letter below, she wrote the following to me. “Bears, I am so pumped!!! You are Mr. Miracle Walking!” Well, I am smiling… I am still upright (yes, walking now) even though when I came home from the hospital, I could not stand, and the pain was intense. However, when Samahria and I were met by the folks from Hospice, we smiled, loved them and expressed gratitude for their help. Nevertheless, I have been very determined and energetically working my “butt” off to regain strength (still in process) – and the Hospice folks (now called palliative care support team) said (in so many words), I was not acting like a person who had been given 5 days to 5 weeks to live. The letter below comes directly from my key doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Leslie Fang, who is a highly accomplished and respected physician who has consulted with a team of top medical and experts. I want to share this letter and summary he catalogued about my life (and the doctors’ investigation) over the past (almost) two months. He has been wonderful (actually, for decades) in supporting me (and some members of my family) with his sincere caring and high-level expertise.
-Letter from Dr. Leslie Fang-Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher Endowed Chair, Clinical Excellence in Nephrology Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm, Medical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School -June 15, 2022 “Dear Bears, This letter serves as an update to a very confusing 2 months for all of us regarding the history of your illness. You initially presented to an outside hospital with symptomatic hypercalcemia with calcium level as high as 19 (normally below 10). You were transferred to Norwalk Hospital for continuing care. During the Norwalk hospitalization, you had:
- Persistently elevated calcium necessitating aggressive therapy
- Acute kidney failure related to the high calcium
- Confusion and delirium related to the high calcium
- Finding of multiple lytic lesions in the vertebrae, ribs and pelvis
- Abnormalities in the liver on imaging studies
- Abnormalities in a brain MRI worrisome for a stroke
You were discharged with the diagnosis of:
- Altered mental status
- Bone metastases
- Liver metastases
- Mediastinal mass
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
- Acute ischemic stroke
- Acute hypernatremia
- Acute renal failure
- Calcium has stayed in the normal range
- Kidney function has normalized
- You are 100% back to your old self mentally and getting physically stronger every day
- Widespread bone metastases
- Liver metastases
- The mediastinal mass may be thymus and not cancer
- The brain imaging studies are of such quality that we cannot ascertain that you have had a stroke
- The unique and challenging news is that we still do not have a diagnosis: