Have you ever had a dream that related to the health of your breasts? Two of my close friends were warned of their own breast cancers in dreams that prompted them to go for breast imaging studies. They are both healthcare professionals with years of training in left-brain decision making processes. They also cultivate right-brain skills such as meditation and paying attention to synchronicities, but it seems that the really important information they needed only came through in the dream state when their left-brain filters were temporarily suspended. This approach to self-care is safe and free like breast self-examination, but relies on trusting your intuitive abilities rather than your palpation skills.

As an early pioneer of clinical MRI research, I am a big fan of the appropriate use of technology to solve diagnostic problems, such as MRI screening of women at high risk for breast cancer like Angelina Jolie.

Although less sensitive, ultrasound can also be useful as an adjunct to mammography. My friend and fellow holistic radiologist Tom Hudson has provided a timely overview of breast imaging, including thermography, in Journey to Hope: Leaving the Fear of Breast Cancer Behind.

His book also emphasizes self-care and prevention, but he does not discuss dreams which are more related to the rituals of shamans and the ancient Greek temples of Asclepius than to modern medicine.

I first heard of this breast warning phenomenon from a physiologist-turned-mediation teacher friend who had a series of vague dreams about cancer culminating in a vivid dream of having surgery on one of her breasts by a woman surgeon.

This startling dream prompted her to go for a mammogram which was normal. Unsatisfied by this result she pressed the radiologist to do an ultrasound. The radiologist refused saying it was not standard practice to do ultrasound to search for a cancer that was not palpable or visible on mammography. She pleaded to have it done exactly where the dream indicated, and the radiologist was stunned to find it. She later had surgery by the woman surgeon from the dream.

My other friend is a physician-turned-consciousness researcher who had two disturbing dreams in one night. The first scary dream was about a serial killer. The second one was about having breast cancer. Those were enough to send her for a mammogram which showed a cancer in the location from her dream.

Since I am a founding board member of the American Board of Scientific Medical Intuition started by neurosurgeon Norm Shealy and intuitive Caroline Myss, these two eye-opening stories of dream intuition inspired me to do an Internet literature search for additional examples.

I got more than I bargained for when I hit the "mother lode" by finding Wanda Easter Burch's She Who Dreams.

In her book Wanda describes the dreams that guided her to find her cancer after doctors dismissed her nagging breast pain, and then chronicles the use of dreams in leading her on a path to healing. She is also a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and presented "Dreaming Well: Harvesting Dream Imagery for Healing" in their 2008 PsiberDreaming Conference. 

Wanda reported on 18 women from a 2004 support group meeting at the Charles Wood Cancer Center in Glens Falls, N.Y, who all had precognitive dreams of their breast cancers featuring warning visits from deceased family members similar to a dream message she had received from her own father.

Wanda's father shouting that she had breast cancer in a dream motivated her to go to a surgeon for an evaluation, but he had difficulty localizing a lesion to biopsy on the imaging studies and physical examination.  Fortunately, she also had a dream showing the exact location of the cancer. Her remarkably open-minded surgeon actually asked her to draw the location on her breast with a marker to guide his biopsy needle. When it encountered suspicious resistance, he scheduled a surgical biopsy which confirmed the diagnosis.

Wanda's story is quite amazing, but of course we have no idea about the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of warning dreams, since it has not been scientifically studied.

With that caveat, it is relatively simple to start using dreams to monitor your health as a supplement to your regular health care. All you need is the intention to remember your dreams and a dreamy diary by your bed as described in the 7 minute video on my May 2013 blog, "Interpreting Dreams in Multiple Dimensions."

In my book Let Magic Happen: Adventures in Healing with a Holistic Radiologist, I discuss "Healing Dream Guidance" in Chapter 9.

Many of the top dream experts will be attending the IASD conference in Virginia Beach, V.A., on June 21-25, 2013 where I will be presenting on this topic. If your parents or grandparents show up to warn you in your dreams, discuss it with your doctor.

Image by Tips Times, courtesy of Creative Commons license.