Breast Cancer Dream Awareness

Larry Burk, MD, CEHP
3 min readSep 29, 2018
Dense breast tissue makes cancer harder to find. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month do yourself a favor and remember to keep a dream diary as it may save your life. That was the experience of the 18 women in my breast cancer dreams research project which was published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing in 2015. They had dreams warning about breast cancer prior to any symptoms or tests, and all are alive years later after having their cancers diagnosed and treated. Most had their cancers confirmed with mammography, ultrasound or MRI, but a few had biopsies based on their dreams even when the studies failed to show the cancer.

Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos was one of the women who had such a dream-guided biopsy for her initial diagnosis at age 43 after a normal mammogram report. With the current controversy regarding starting screening mammograms every year from age 40 versus every other year starting at age 50, if you decide to start at 50 and have a cancer warning dream in your forties, it would be a good idea to start your mammograms earlier. If you do start at 40 and have dense breasts which make cancers harder find, a warning dream might guide you to request an ultrasound or MRI in addition as described in my TEDxRaleigh2016 Cancer Warning Dreams that Can Save Your Life talk.

The February 1, 2022 issue of Good Housekeeping features Kathleen’s story and the story of another breast cancer dreamer, Suzanne Degregorio. O’Keefe-Kanavos provides more details about her amazing dreams in the book that she co-authored with me in April 2018, Dreams that Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases. The stories of Suzanne and another 8 women from my research project dream team are recounted in the book including how they used their dreams to guide their healing during intense medical treatments.

I completed another pilot study of dreams in women undergoing breast biopsies at Duke University Medical Center which was published in 2020. Since we don’t know from the original research project how many women with breast cancer actually have such warning dreams, women filled out surveys about whether they remember their dreams, whether they keep a dream diary and if they had dreams warning them about cancer. The surveys are anonymous, so we won’t know which of the women actually have cancer on their biopsies.

163 women completed the survey reporting that 64% usually remember their dreams, 41% have had dreams that came true, and 5% keep a dream diary. 5.5% reported dreaming the word “cancer,” but only one woman was prompted to have a breast evaluation because of a dream. This most unusual narrative was of a woman warned about breast cancer by her deceased daughter. “I have dreams about my daughter anytime there is something important going on in my life, and we talk about the issues. She died at age 5 of neuroblastoma in 2002.”

In the meantime, keeping a dream diary is a simple self-care practice that may also yield guidance about other areas of your life such as relationships and career paths. You can use a simple notebook or your smart phone. I recommend writing down a question every night about whatever pressing concern you have on your mind as a prompt to the dreamworld that you are ready and open for dream guidance. Record any dreams you have immediately before they slip away. Here is my simple guide to dream interpretation.

For anyone who wants to do dream analysis with me, I offer dreamwork and EFT tapping online at Let Magic Happen Coaching. Hidden shadow emotions of fear, anger, shame and grief are important in the coaching process and will be addressed in a Tapping Into Health Zoom course sponsored by Duke Integrative Medicine on Tuesday evenings in April from 6 to 8 PM EST. There will be a live interactive experiential format including group and individual EFT sessions and dream discussions each week.



Larry Burk, MD, CEHP

Holistic radiologist, Certified Energy Health Practitioner, author of Dreams that Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases