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  • Keith R. Holden, M.D.

Curing the Incurable

I was inspired to write this article after being diagnosed with an incurable illness, stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer. I don't believe in the term "incurable" because the medical literature is full of examples where people with terminal diseases experience a cure. I set out to research what variables come into play and how it might be possible to cure the incurable.

By deciphering some of the research on miraculous cures, I will find a way to cure myself and, in turn, help others.

Some of this information is based on solid science, while others are philosophical. Read it open-minded and consider possibilities you might not have thought about before. That opens you up to possibilities that defy science and have the potential to create miracles in your life.

Exactly how the human body heals in every instance is still a great mystery. Figuring out why some people experience remission of terminal illnesses and others don't inspire scientists across the globe. These occurrences are especially true for cancer and some viral infections.


Viruses are incredibly diverse, differing so much that scientists have difficulty categorizing them all. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) lives in multiple areas of the body. Other viruses like hepatitis B and C set up house in the liver.

Currently, there is no cure for chronic hepatitis B, but there is a vaccine that can prevent it. Chronic hepatitis C is curable, but there is no vaccine to prevent it. Before 1986, hepatitis C was incurable, but clinicians began experimenting with therapies, resulting in cure rates of about 6% by 1991. Today, shorter treatments result in a cure rate of approximately 98%. So, in a very short time, chronic hepatitis C went from incurable to curable in the vast majority of people who are treated.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

And until 2008, scientists and doctors considered it impossible to cure HIV.

Then, in 2008, a miracle occurred: the first person in the world experienced a cure for HIV. He is known as the "Berlin Patient" because he lived in Berlin at the time of his cure. The "Berlin Patient" received chemotherapy plus radiation before receiving two stem cell transplants from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made the donor genetically resistant to the virus. This rare genetic mutation makes someone immune to HIV.

It is dangerous to receive a stem cell transplant because it requires first knocking out the entire immune system with chemotherapy and whole-body irradiation. For the "Berlin Patient," two separate stem cell transplants were used to treat his progressive leukemia; otherwise, he was going to die, not from HIV, but from leukemia. Sadly, the Berlin patient died of leukemia in 2020, but when he died, he was still free of HIV.

There have been at least sixteen other stem cell transplants performed in HIV-positive individuals since then in an attempt to replicate the HIV cure. Most of the transplant recipients died. Then, another anonymous individual called the "London Patient" also underwent a stem cell transplant from an HIV-resistant donor. It was done to treat his lymphoma, and scientists published a paper in March of 2019 showing he has had an undetectable viral load for 18 months. At this point, he is still free of HIV.

Then, in February 2022, a third person was declared cured of HIV. In this case, unlike the other two, she’s a woman of mixed race, and the process was different. She underwent a stem cell transplant in an attempt to cure her leukemia using umbilical cord blood from a donor genetically resistant to HIV.

What's exciting about this is that umbilical cord blood is more widely available than bone marrow stem cells used in the two previous cures. In addition, cord blood transplants don't have to be matched as closely to the recipient.

As of today, five people have been cured of HIV by transplanting stem cells from donors with rare genetic mutations that make them resistant to most strains of HIV. These ongoing breakthroughs inspire scientists and doctors to continue research to decipher all of the variables that led to these cures. They hope that, ultimately, their research will translate into a cure for all people with HIV.

Spontaneous remission of cancer

What's even more fascinating to me are the numerous well-documented cases of patients with incurable cancers who went into unexplained, durable remission. Miracles do occur and are well-documented in the medical literature.

There are several well-documented cures for metastatic cancers, even in individuals who opted for no chemotherapy or radiation. Scientists call this spontaneous remission or spontaneous regression; others call it radical remission.

I have told patients about the existence of spontaneous remission of end-stage cancers and that it suggests a potential for any disease to go into remission. After all, it's scientifically shown that terminal cancers undergo spontaneous remission and that people are cured of what once was an incurable virus.

Are these cases relatively rare? Yes, but that's not the point. The point is that they happen and give people hope. Hope is a component of expectation, and we know from research that expectation is a psychological factor that triggers powerful physiologic changes in the body as part of the placebo effect.

Spontaneous remission of end-stage cancers is one of medicine's great mysteries as it is unexplained by science. Even the documented cure for HIV hasn't been fully explained by science because doctors haven't been able to replicate this cure in every attempt.

Physical, emotional, and spiritual variables

We don't know why these cures occur because so many variables come into play. There are apparent physical variables, as well as emotional and spiritual variables.

Physical variables include:

• Genetic variations

• Physical stressors

• Toxins

• Nutritional status

• Lifestyle

• Status of the immune system

Emotional variables include:

• Beliefs that trigger emotions

• Unresolved emotional conflicts hiding in the subconscious mind

• The will to live

I know that when I was on androgen deprivation therapy, I lost the will to live, and that’s why I had to stop it. Thankfully, most men on androgen deprivation therapy tolerate it and don’t lose their will to live.

Spiritual variables are by far the most controversial. Discussing spiritual variables is philosophical but essential for those who believe in a spiritual component of the human experience.

What if?

What if our higher selves, or souls, decide to have specific earthly experiences before we incarnate? This concept makes sense if you believe in reincarnation. Don't click away because you read the word "reincarnation" because I want to show you the scientific evidence for it.

The University of Virginia has been studying reincarnation for over 50 years, initiated by Dr. Ian Stevenson and now led by Dr. Jim Tucker since the death of Dr. Stevenson. As psychiatry professors at UVA's medical school, they have documented many cases of reincarnation so thoroughly that some would say the evidence is irrefutable.

What if before someone incarnates, their soul chooses to have an earthly experience of a terminal illness in that lifetime? The reasons vary from soul to soul, but they may want that experience. After all, as a soul, you know that the experience won't last forever and may result in a powerful learning experience.

This idea comes from a philosophical concept that our souls come to earth to experience growth and transformation through learning. In addition, through our own earthly experiences, we can positively influence the personal growth and transformation of others.

Why might someone's soul choose to experience a terminal illness leading to death at a relatively early age? Maybe it was so their loved ones could have the experience of learning to heal from heart-wrenching grief.

Or maybe it was so that a loved one they left behind would be inspired to choose a career involving finding the cure for a specific type of terminal cancer. Or so that their doctor would be encouraged to find a cure for an incurable virus, such as the doctor in Berlin who thought of a way to cure HIV by using a stem cell donor resistant to HIV.

The reasons are endless, but if viewing it from the soul's higher perspective, it might make sense. Since you potentially experience multiple lifetimes, you'll choose an easier path for the next lifetime. Or not, if you are adventurous:-)

Inner physician

When a practitioner of the healing arts encounters a patient with an incurable illness, they can choose cutting-edge and innovative ways to help facilitate a cure. However, the limiting factor always lies with the patient because the patient's body-mind does the curing when adequately supported.

Patients may make lifestyle changes and use innovative therapies, but for some, if they don't take steps to resolve an emotional conflict that keeps their immune system suppressed through stress, they might not heal. If the patient doesn't have "the fight" in them or the will to live, the patient may not get better, no matter how innovative or inspired the practitioner is.

Other patients may decide not to take any treatment and set an intention to cure themselves, as in some instances of spontaneous remission of end-stage cancer. So, how do they cure themselves? We're unsure, but we know it requires activating their inner physician. Research on the placebo effect provides many clues on how we activate our inner physicians through the power of belief.

A patient may follow the innovative therapies prescribed by a healthcare practitioner, clear their emotional conflicts, discover their life's purpose, and have a strong will to live, resulting in a cure. Many variables abound because of the uniqueness of individuals and the treatments they receive.

The soul-self

What if a patient's limiting factor for a cure lies at the level of the soul? Did their soul, or higher self, choose to experience an incurable illness that they would ultimately conquer? Or did their soul choose to stay chronically ill until they died at a relatively early age?

Why would they choose the latter? It may be so they could learn to heal without being cured in that lifetime. They wanted to know how to experience surrendering to "what is" no matter how “terrible,” but being content despite that.

That is a compelling experience, but it goes against everything we're taught, such as "never give up" and "don't give up the fight." But I ask, "Is that always the right thing?" We don't know the answer.

Reversing course

Another aspect to consider is if, before incarnation, your soul decides to die of a terminal illness in this lifetime. What if you change your mind and decide to live longer or desire a cure? How would you go about reversing the course?

Consider the possibilities. You could meditate to commune with your higher self and break the contract you established before incarnating. That's what I have done. Some might say this is magical thinking. Maybe it is, but I call spontaneous remission of terminal cancer magical.

You could start by explaining in vivid detail to your higher self why it's essential for you to recover from the terminal illness and why your premature death wouldn’t make sense in the whole scheme of things.

What if you created a course and wrote a book that included how one might survive a terminal illness, and you needed the story of your cure to document precisely how to do this? There is no better way to teach than through personal experience.

Or you've learned what you needed to know. Now, you want to live a long life as a person who experienced robust growth and transformation on an emotional and spiritual level through finding a way to survive a terminal diagnosis.

After you have explained in detail to your higher self why you no longer want to fulfill the contract you made before incarnation, you should demonstrate your tremendous will to live. Meditate daily on seeing and feeling cured of the terminal illness.

Take daily action as if your terminal illness has resolved. Take steps toward your future, such as initiating or continuing projects that will complete themselves in the future. Accept a new career position or raise to fulfill these duties far into the future. Keep the momentum of your life going in leaps and bounds.

Most importantly, provide momentum for this course reversal by supplying it with energy in the form of powerful emotions. Be intensely passionate about your decision by bringing in high energy emotions about curing your illness.

Anger can be helpful as long as you channel the anger in a manner that inspires you to take positive action. Joy and gratitude are potent emotions that help manifest anything in your life. Regularly visualize yourself in perfect health while feeling profound gratitude in your meditations.

Some will say this type of instruction is giving people false hope. There is no such thing as false hope. Hope is hope. And if you don't have hope for your future, no matter the outcome, your quality of life sucks! In addition, hopelessness creates one of the biggest drains on your energy you can have.

I'm not asking you to be perfect in this endeavor. No one is ever perfect. Our foibles and follies are part of what makes life so interesting. There may be days when you will feel sad and hopeless. That's okay, too. Just let yourself feel those emotions so that you properly process them so they don't get stuck in your body-mind.

Remember, you can pull yourself out of an emotional spiral by getting emotional therapy, contemplating the good things in your life, going on a long walk in nature, or snuggling with a loved one on the couch while they love you.


The process of self-healing is ultimately about striking a balance in your life. It is not about being in denial and trying to be happy and positive every day. Trying to do that is not being human and will fail. Use the techniques described to balance the harsh, low-energy emotions you will experience to maintain the momentum for heading toward a cure.

Curing the incurable is a very complex topic. There is no "one cure fits all," and no panacea works for everyone. Functional medicine taught me that truly personalized medicine helps tease out variables that may be helpful for each individual.

An optimal personalized medical approach requires a thorough evaluation of physical, emotional, and spiritual issues. If you choose a functional medicine practitioner as part of your healthcare team, ensure they are comfortable addressing all those issues.

Tackling all of the potential variables of an incurable illness is not for the faint of heart. This endeavor is especially true for emotional and spiritual variables, which require consideration of what is outside the realm of "proven" in the traditional medical model.

Man's most significant discoveries are made by investigating the unknown and what is considered impossible.

A place to start is acknowledging that a scientific literature review shows us that the word "incurable" is sometimes a misnomer.

Keith R. Holden, M.D.

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