Teenage Miracle Worker

The Vancouver teenager who treated Ronnie Hawkins for cancer is reading my aura. We are sitting opposite each other in the darkened cocktail lounge of a Toronto hotel at midday. Officially, the room is closed but Adam, his father, Frank, and I have slipped past the barriers in search of a quiet place to talk.

I have shown them a small lump on my left wrist and Adam has shifted his gaze to somewhere over my left shoulder.

“I won’t go inside,” he says, meaning he won’t plunge visually into my cardiovascular and lymphatic systems to analyze the obstruction, like a human CT scan. He has to conserve his energy for a six-hour collective healing session the next day for 75 fibromyalgia patients.

Instead, he checks my aura for energy blockages, a task that in dim light apparently takes him little effort.

“The problem’s not really your wrist,” he says, eyes surveying the middle distance. “I see something on your neck, on the left side.

“Well, on both sides, really, but especially the left. On the right I see more like a shadow. Your left shoulder blade and left arm — something’s going on there.”

His words resonate with me. If I don’t stretch regularly, I get a sharp stitch in my upper left shoulder blade from typing, and stiffness down the arm.

The shadow sounds like residue from sharp pains that shot down my right arm for months in 1993, after a barber suddenly twisted my neck. A doctor couldn’t help, but several treatments from an osteopath resolved the matter.

Adam seemed able to read the patterns and see the interconnections. By contrast, a doctor I had consulted diagnosed it as a (harmless) ganglionic cyst and gave me a choice between having it surgically removed and waiting to see if it disappeared.

He was helpful but never seemed to consider the body as an organic whole, or question how the lump formed in the first place — the kind of approach that gets people like me curious about alternative medicine.

When I first showed Adam my wrist, I was asking him about the self-healing techniques he teaches.

How does the mind help heal the body, I wanted to know? What is this life force, this qi energy, that Eastern philosophers speak of? And why, with all of Western medicine’s pharmaceuticals, advanced surgical procedures and technological diagnostics, do theories of energy and interconnectedness sound so intuitively worth pursuing?

In the alternative-medicine world, Adam commands a large and loyal following.

His patients include a former U.S. lunar astronaut; he has just signed a six-figure, three-book contract with a major publisher, which includes the reissue of two self-published books; and his mass healing sessions of up to 450 people always sell out well in advance.

Three are scheduled for Toronto this summer — an event today at the Westin Prince Hotel in North York, and two others at the same venue Aug. 27 and 28.

At them, Adam performs what he calls “distance energy healing.” From across a room or a continent, he says, he can mentally conjure up images of a person’s insides, identify a disease or ailment, and expel it.

Most people know him from the Ronnie Hawkins case.

Three years ago, the rockabilly singer was diagnosed at Toronto General Hospital with terminal pancreatic cancer. Three biopsies failed to prove cancer but an inoperable tumour growing around an artery meant his condition was fatal anyway. He was expected to be dead in three months.

Through his manager, Hawkins contacted Adam, 16 at the time. From 5,000 kilometres away, he performed a series of energy treatments on Hawkins through a photograph of the singer. Within eight months the tumour had disappeared entirely and Hawkins declared himself cured.

Now, to people close to him, Adam appears poised to take distance energy healing to a wider public. Several factors seem to be working for him.

At not quite 19, he exudes immediate personal appeal. He is six foot two, with calm brown eyes and an athletic build.

He seems intelligent but not intellectual. He speaks like any teenager at a suburban mall, sometimes running his words together into a near mumble.

Lecturing to a roomful of people, he appears natural and self-possessed, never like a salesman or somebody striving to create an impression. “I think having a big ego counters the healing process, ” he says.

Recent trends in the medical community are helping him. Acupuncture and other Eastern treatments, once dismissed by the Canadian health system, are becoming more integrated; acceptance is growing that mental and emotional states directly affect disease and wellness.

In Victoria at the end of May, medical doctors invited Adam to demonstrate his mass-healing techniques at the annual convention of the Association of Complementary Physicians of British Columbia.

Other influential people are championing him.

One is Effie Chow, a former member of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s White House commission on complementary and alternative medicine. She is also founder of the East West Academy of Healing Arts in San Francisco, and a grandmaster in qigong, the ancient Chinese practice literally meaning energy (qi, or “chee”), and discipline or work (gong).

“Adam is one of the most powerful healers on this soil, North America,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “His healing energy is untroubled and pure.”

Another fan is former U.S. lunar astronaut Edgar Mitchell. In 1971, he became the sixth person to walk on the moon as a member of the Apollo 14 mission. He holds a PhD science in Aeronautics/Astronautics from MIT, and in 1973 founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, or IONS, with the goal of proving scientifically that all humans are connected subatomically to each other and to everything else.

“I have had two different short bouts with cancer,” Mitchell said recently by email.

“Both were successfully treated with these alternative techniques — one before I met Adam and a short-lived kidney cancer after meeting Adam and which he treated. I have been cancer free for more than two years now.”

A pop-culture trend is also boosting Adam’s profile.

To explain his powers, Adam often cites quantum physics, the theoretical science of subatomic matter.

Some of the same material underlies the Jewish mystic tradition of Kabbalah, or at least the updated version attracting such stars as Madonna, Roseanne and Elizabeth Taylor, with its talk of a parallel universe of wisdom and light.

The recent hit documentary film What the Bleep Do We Know?, starring Marlee Matlin, too, turns on quantum physics theory, arguing that people control their own spiritual and physical destinies. Next month, Adam is to appear with some of the film’s scientific personalities at Simon Fraser University for a What the Bleep Do We Know? conference.

A pop-culture trend is

boosting his profile.

The quantum physics he cites shows up