Narratives of Research Participants
The Heffter Research Institute (a collaborator of Usona Institute) provides videos of research participants from Heffter-sponsored clinical trials. These videos and other research-related information can be viewed on their website, Heffter.org.
Lauri Kershman, MD
As a practicing physician Lauri received a diagnosis of advanced cancer, and in coping with treatments plus the changes in all of her roles as mother, doctor, and wife, she began to show signs of PTSD. In her psilocybin treatment session at Johns Hopkins, she began to see her life differently, seeing the actual steps she could take to make herself healthier and happier with the energy she had. These steps ended up being transformative for her, and amazingly, her cancer has also gone into remission. She has become a powerful advocate for this therapy as an opener to self-understanding and greater health-building behaviors.
“I am here as a talking example, not a statistic. There’s a part of spiritual healing where you learn to take care of yourself. Part of this awakening was about taking care of myself. I’m not addicted to bad habits. I was able to sleep better. I had much less stress and anxiety. And that led to eating healthier, and exercising and choosing healthier options in my life.”
Clark Martin, PhD
Soon after the birth of his daughter, Psychologist Clark Martin received the diagnosis of cancer with a very poor prognosis. Despite receiving an initial positive response to chemotherapy, he continued to need further cancer treatments. After feeling withdrawn from his life and his family, he sought out multiple alternative behavioral treatments with no lasting effects from any of them, which led him to seek out the Johns Hopkins research trial. Clark reports feeling a fundamental shift in the way he interacts with the world, feeling an ability to manage relationships, becoming more open, and focusing on the important things in life.
“I still focus on the cancer, but I just do what I can do and I don’t push it so hard. I’m much more involved with people. I have more friends now than I have time for. I just have a level of energy and enthusiasm I didn’t have before. It’s dramatically changed my life from a kind of struggle and intensity and a lot of work to a kind of spontaneity and a sense of freedom. I just have to show up and be myself.”
“When you get a cancer diagnosis, a Pandora’s box starts to open up. I found myself slipping into depression. I went inward with a lot of fear. My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t learn how to live before I died, I wouldn’t find that fullness, that peace, that place of contentment in life before the process of dying.
The magic occurred for me the minute I put the headphones on and the music started. I kept waiting to see if something wild was going to happen. I didn’t go anywhere. But it was an amazing, amazing journey. It was so overwhelmingly incredible and beautiful that I had tears falling down my face. In life you sometimes feel like there is a harness on you. There was no harness here.
The first notable event for me was a point while listening to the music that was playing, I followed the note up, and when the note stopped, I held my breath. I was fully aware of that, and I thought, “Wow, it’s okay not to breathe.” It was that simple.
I emerged from that first session, oddly enough, having an extremely strong sense of self and the importance of me in my relationship to everything around me. I think what happened was it opened my heart, my perspective. I came out of this feeling assured. I felt okay. I just knew that everything was going to be okay.
The study has changed everything in my life. Everything. I am more patient. I am more thoughtful. I stop and I take the time. I am present. And I can be present all by myself and smile. I stop and I say thank you because I get to breathe another day. I put my feet in the grass, and I feel that grass in my toes. And I think, “This is great!” It’s just the little tiny things, I am just in gratitude. I am just happy about the whole thing. How lucky! I am so lucky. I have a few years chopped off my life? I do. But look at the quality I am able to experience now. If I got this (awareness) for a week, it would have been worth it. That I have had for a year is astounding. I can’t even imagine how it will continue to amplify.”