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Alternative cure worked real miracles for Treasa.

SISTER Treasa Ridge is a walking miracle, although she would never say so herself.

The 56-year-old nun sparkles with health and good humour, showing little sign of twice having beaten cancer.

But it is not just a lifelong devotion to God that has seen Sister Treasa through.

She is also a disciple of alternative medicine and is convinced that it helped her return to fitness after surgery for ovarian and bowel cancer.

If miracles do happen, there can be no better setting than the Presentation Convent, Matlock, Derbyshire, where Sister Treasa fought her way back to health.

She healed herself using autogenic therapy (AT) and is now passing on the techniques that quite possibly saved her life by working with terminally-ill patients.

Autogenic therapy is said to benefit physical and mental health and was developed by Dr Johannes Schultz, a neurophysicist, in the 1920s. Practitioners learn a series of mental exercises designed to steer the mind and body away from stress towards positive thinking.

It was 12 years ago, during Sister Treasa's first battle with cancer, that she became interested in AT.

Abroad in Zambia on a teaching mission, she discovered she had ovarian cancer.

Sister Treasa said: "I came back from Africa to have major surgery at the Women's Hospital in Derby and realised I would have to look for a new calling.

"I had already trained in spiritual direction and worked with people on retreats, helping them to process where they are in spiritual terms.

"During more training I heard about autogenic therapy at a conference in London.

"Since my body wasn't healing itself very well after surgery, I had no energy and my immune system had suffered, I decided that it could help me to cope with the shock to my system that cancer brought."

She learnt the basics of AT at a 10-week course in London which provides a standard introduction.

The therapy works by simply repeating positive phrases encouraging the limbs to become heavy and relaxed. Three positions are adopted during a session - sitting back, sitting forwards or lying down - and the mind is trained to focus on relaxing the body in a state similar to meditation or hypnosis.

"It's all about training the body to relax using the power of words. The secret is passive concentration," she said. "I repeat phrases like 'My neck and shoulders are heavy' or 'My limbs are warm' depending on what area of the body I am focusing on.

"The course taught me to use AT through the day. I normally do it before morning Mass and before I go to bed. It had a wonderful effect on me, allowing me to relax and take charge of my life again.

"My condition improved and I kept cancer away for 10 years. I even noticed an improvement in my arthritis and decided I had to share the benefits with others."

Sister Treasa went on to train as a therapist. She also travelled to America to study for a degree in theology.

It was while she was studying for her final exams two years ago that she was diagnosed with cancer of the colon.

Once more far from home, Sister Treasa had to return to England for emergency surgery. But before she left, something extraordinary happened.

"I visited a Native American Indian healing lodge in California," she said. "They believe very strongly in reverting to the earth for energy and I underwent an intense programme of prayer, ritual and cleansing.

"I was told that on my return to Britain my tumour would be reduced in size and surgeons would be successful in removing it.

"I was also told I wouldn't need any chemotherapy or medication but that my body would take at least two years to recover."

And all the predictions came true. Surgeons in Chesterfield found a tumour the size of an orange in Sister Treasa's colon but removed all of it.

The cancer cleared up without the need for chemotherapy and Sister Treasa now returns to hospital only for check-ups.

She once again harnessed the powers of alternative medicine to restore her body to good health using her skills.

Sister Treasa now uses her healing powers to treat a whole range of physical and psychological conditions. including terminal illness.

One of her most devoted patients is Jean Hatton, of Anglesey, who first received treatment from Sister Treasa for ME in 1994.

Jean, a 55-year-old former hospital dietician, said: "I noticed after the eight weeks that I could sleep better and my pain threshold had gone up. I was less tense and AT also gave me more confidence because I felt more centred.

"I also suffer from tinnitus and depression and, in recent months, AT has really helped me to get on top of things just by repeating positive thoughts to myself. I use it day and night and it seems to help. I call it my life tool."

She added: "Sister Treasa is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She radiates joy and I feel honoured that she calls me a friend. She has been through so much herself and yet she still devotes her time to helping others."

Has AT worked for you? Write now to: Talkabout, Sunday Mercury, 28 Colmore Circus, Birmingham B4 6AZ.
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Article Details
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Author:Palfreyman, Louise
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 31, 1999
Previous Article:Me and My Health.
Next Article:Benefits of mental spring-cleaning.

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