Can Your Dreams Deliver a Diagnosis?

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Dr. Larry Burk, author of “Dreams That Can Save Your Life,” joins The Doctors to discuss his findings and research in regards to dreams acting as warning signs about your health. Dr. Burk is a researcher conducting an ongoing study that suggests just that; a growing number of people claim to have had dreams that predicted illnesses like cancer.

Dr. Burk explains his research was initially influenced by a good friend’s dream she shared with him. His friend dreamt of being operated on by a female surgeon and in her dream, she saw the cancer on her breast. 

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After this dream, Dr. Burk’s friend went to get a mammogram. The results came back normal, but his friend pushed the radiologist to give her an ultrasound. The radiologist argued against it saying, “I wouldn’t even know where to do it!” The woman pointed to the spot on her breast where she saw the cancer in her dream, and it was there the ultrasound found cancer deep in the breast. A week later his friend went for her biopsy appointment and the doctor was the woman surgeon she saw in her dream!

Dr. Burk has with him another woman, Diane, who similarly used a dream to diagnose her cancer. Diane is a florist and had a client send flowers to someone dying of cancer so initially, she thought this was what influenced her dream. In her dream, she told her cousin she had the big C. The next day, however, Diane noticed a dot on her chest and then the dot continued to grow. 

Diane was initially told it was just mastitis and was given antibiotics. Diane did more research and went to another doctor who said the same thing. Diane demanded more testing and using an ultrasound found that she did have stage zero grade three breast cancer. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra notes that Diane’s dream fueled her to be her own advocate. 

Diane had another dream before her biopsy where she was in a tank with killer whales. As the whales swam around her, a handsome man jumped in and a little whale pushed them to a safe landing. She woke up believing it was good in regards to her cancer and that she was going to be safe. She was right.

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Dr. Burk shares that within his book there are other similar stories. He says in 2015 he initially published his findings, 18 women who dreamt of breast cancer, in a medical journal. He shares there have been many more reports of other types of cancer dreams, most notably, actor Mark Ruffalo, who dreamt of his brain tumor.

Dr. Batra asks Dr. Burk how he explains these predictive dreams. Dr. Burk believes there are three possibilities. One is that women with breast cancer are in denial that they have symptoms. The second is that a neurological signaling system which translates up to the subconscious and creates dreams exists. Or, there is some intuitive mechanism at work that we don’t quite understand yet.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says he never remembers his dreams! Dr. Burk says the simplest way to manifest dreams is to set an intention prior to sleep that you are going to remember them. If you wake up with a really vivid dream that feels very real that might be a signal of something wrong. Also, if the words “cancer” or “tumor” are used in the dream. Lastly, if there is a sense of contact to the body either by your hand in the dream or by a dream guide. A dream guide typically takes the form of a healthcare professional or a deceased relative. Dr. Burk says people often recognize the healthcare professional from their dream when they meet them soon after.

Dr. Burk shares that while currently researching this at Duke University, women who come in for a breast cancer biopsy are given a questionnaire about their dreams. He says they are still collecting that information so there is no data to share just yet. 

Dr. Burk has been keeping a dream diary for 30 years, maybe it’s time to gives it a try!

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