Patients' experiences

All quoted patients participated in the study by Ross et al., 2016.

Chrissy, aged 54 years

diagnosis: lung cancer

"In my abdomen, that's also where part of my cancer was. I kinda felt like that was my umbilical cord to the universe and that this was where my life would be drained from me some day, and I would surrender it willingly when my time came, and that was just so profound.... It was just really comforting, you know, it kinda reaffirmed what I believe, that, you know, we're all kind of a greater whole and that you go back."

Augusta, aged 69 years

diagnosis: breast cancer

"I think it's from [the psilocybin] experience... You know, bringing me more in touch with these joyous, happy, positive aspects of being alive-just being alive! That's what I really feel I mean: if I went tomorrow, I've had a really good run. But I think I have a little more time. I'm just so grateful . . . I've actually experienced these things in my life."

Erin, aged 51 years

diagnosis: ovarian cancer

"One of the really vivid images that I had was there was a sketch of a dinner table-it was almost this round circle that represented a dinner table-and at the table was cancer, but it was supposed to be at the table. And the feeling I had was cancer is a part of everything. It isn't this bad, separate thing; it's something that's part of everything, and that everything is part of everything. And that's really beautiful. It was just a sort of acceptance of the human experience because it's all supposed to be this way."

Mike, aged 57 years

diagnosis: prostate cancer

"It was an intense, intense struggle, and that's where it became medicinal because it allowed that struggle to happen. It didn't coat it, it wasn't an antidepressant. it brought it all out."

Volunteer 16

"I've always been afraid of rejection. I experienced such overwhelming love in my psilocybin experience, that it gave me new confidence. I threw myself a birthday party and invited more people than I thought I ever could. They came! I think the extreme depth of love I felt changed the way I relate to others. [It] gave me a feeling that I have a right to be here and to enjoy life."

Volunteer 28

"[I] most certainly feel a stronger connection to a higher power due to the psilocybin experience, [as well as] greater openness towards others, more empathy, more interconnected with other people. I believe these changes are directly attributable to the psilocybin experience as well as the integration sessions afterwards."

Volunteer 42

"The psilocybin experience changed my thoughts about myself in the world. I see myself in a less limited way. I am more open to life. It has taken me out from under a big load of feelings and past issues in my life that I was carrying around."

Volunteer 35

"Once the thought that cancer is a part of your life becomes woven into the fabric of your being, you realize that this, or something similar, awaits many others who are unsuspecting. This compels you to relate to others from the perspective of compassion due to the changeable and temporary nature of our sense of who we are."

Edna, aged 65 years

diagnosis: ovarian cancer

"It really hit me very strong [psilocybin session experience]. And it was terrifying. Absolutely nothing, nothing to anchor myself to, nothing, no point of reference, nothing, just lost in space, just crazy, and I was so scared. And then I remembered that Tony and Michelle [study therapists/sitters] were right there and suddenly realized why it was so important that I get to know them and they to get to know me. I think it was Tony who took my hand and said "It's all right. Just go with it. Go with it." And I did."

Victor, aged 26 years

diagnosis: leukemia

"I was raised very Christian. When I got diagnosed with leukemia, I renounced my religion. I was like, "This is not going to help me; chemotherapy is going to save me not Jesus Christ or things like that." My spiritual life was like dormant. I was going to say dead.  [The psilocybin session] not only stirred that back up and reassured me beyond doubt that there is a spiritual realm and I need to be aware of it. It is an important part of my existence."


Swift TC, Belser AB, Agin-Liebes G, et al. Cancer at the Dinner Table: Experiences of Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Cancer-Related Distress. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 2017;57(5):488-519.

Agin-Liebes GI, Malone T, Yalch MM, et al. Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for psychiatric and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer. J Psychopharmacol. 2020;34(2):155-166. Second follow-up: 4.5 years; n=14 of the original 29 participants.