Sheffield, MA, USA 01257

Bears’ Surprising and Unorthodox Journey With Advanced Metastatic Cancer (Stage 4)

Bears’ Surprising and Unorthodox Journey With Advanced Metastatic Cancer (Stage 4)

Dear Family of Choice – We’ve created this page for all of you who have so loved the Institute, love Option Process®, love The Son-Rise Program® for Autism, and have so loved Bears and Samahria. We want you to hold hands with us, be informed, and be inspired as Bears continues his journey with advanced stage 4 cancer (no chemo/no radiation).

We will use this page to give important updates, post letters, share stories and most importantly, to celebrate Bears and deeply connect with our family of choice, who are embracing and living the Option Process lifestyle. 

With love – The Option Institute Staff



UPDATE FROM BEARS – 6/19/2023 (The Latest)
Two Thumbs Up On Bears’ Last Update
Stage 4 metastatic cancer, given 5 days to live 12 months ago
Bears’ Core Principles for Staying Alive
Bears’ Exciting Update, For the Love of Samahria – Including Fun Video
UPDATE FROM BEARS – 12/19/2022
“We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process”
Medical Mystery and Wonder!!
New ‘Twists and Turns’
My Current Medical Reality, Including Surprises
Mass. General Hospital: “Strangest Case They Have Ever Seen”
UPDATE FROM BEARS – 6/6/2022 (The Beginning)
“5 Days to 5 Weeks to Live”
Initial Letter About Bears to Option Institute/Son-Rise Program Participants & Friends – 5/11/2022

Support Letters from Participants and Friends

A Journey with Bears – Guided Meditation For His Healing (created by his Institute participants) Letter from Daria with Response from Bears Letter from Monica Letter from Fabiola Letter from Einat Letter from Ed Letter from Stephen Letter from Ange Letter from Patty W Letter from Paul C Letter from Kathy Letter from Jenny Letter from AlLetter from Niren & Sangita Letter from Abigail Letter from J Letter from Helen Letter from Asia Letter from Chas Letter from Gail S. Letter from Karen Letter from Dane Letter from Camille Letter from Lauren Letter from Brocha Letter from Ellen V

Two Thumbs Up On Bears’ Last Update – 6/19/2023

“Your examination and your blood work confirmed that we currently cannot detect ongoing evidence of cancer.

“It is clear that you are currently enjoying an exceptional quality of life.”

– Dr. Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD (Bears’ Primary Care Physician)
Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School!

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher
Endowed Chair,
Clinical Excellence in Nephrology
Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm,
Medical Services,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

June 11, 2023

Dear Bears,

It is now 14 months since your acute episode in April of 2022 with a catastrophic presentation of acute hypercalcemia, delirium, acute kidney injury and liver as well as multiple bone lesions.  We have subsequently identified that the events were triggered by an underlying B cell lymphoma. (Stage 4 metastatic cancer).

However, with no intervention other than management of the high calcium acutely while you were hospitalized in April 2022, you have continued to do well.

When we just met on June 1st., you were in robust health, active and exercising rigorously.  You continue to be hectically paced and dedicate time to your own physical and mental well-being.  You are doing some of the best work you have done for decades. 

Your examination and your blood work confirmed that we currently cannot detect ongoing evidence of cancer. We have had a lengthy discussion about quality-of-life issues and it is clear that you are currently enjoying an exceptional quality of life. I do believe that we will continue to monitor your blood tests but defer imaging studies unless there are clinical indications to so do. 

I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD


Read about Bears, Samahria, and staff‘s new program on — How To Navigate Serious Health and Cancer Challenges…Even Threats to Our Own Mortality.

“5 Days to Live.”

Click on the link below:

5 Days To Live Program

Bears’ Off-The-Charts Update On Bears – 3/21/2023 (Stage 4 metastatic cancer, given 5 days to live 12 months ago)

By choice, no chemo/no nothing – still robustly alive, still doing my own journey!!!

New Healing Program Being Considered (read more below including update on Bears from Massachusetts General Hospital)

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher
Endowed Chair, Clinical Excellence in Nephrology
Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm,
Medical Services,
Massahusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

March 18, 2023

Dear Bears,

Just a brief update on our discussions on your excellent progress.

Since our last communication, we have continued to manage you conservatively, understanding that the underlying diagnosis is that of lymphoma (stage 4 metastatic cancer).

I am pleased that you are doing extremely well and have no evidence of disease either by your recent imaging studies or your labs.

We have agreed that this is impressive considering that you have never received chemotherapy (by your own choice). You only received two doses of Zometa administered to primarily manage your dangerously high calcium level 11 months ago when you had been hospitalized and told that you had 5 days to 5 weeks to live.

I do believe that we will continue to monitor your blood tests and imaging studies as we have scheduled.

I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD

Samahria and I and the awesome staff of the Option Institute are considering offering a newly designed program that will use the model Samahria and I created (which is based on everything we have taught for over 40 years) for dealing with impending death/coming out of hospice/creating a design for possible healing and now (at least for now) staying so robustly alive. Part of this is all about attitude (our thoughts, our choosing optimism until the last breath), changing the beliefs we hold to create ones that will be nourishing, and taking practical steps (food, movement/exercise, visualizations, prayer, etc.). This is super challenging for anyone dealing with these kinds of difficult health issues personally or with loved ones faced with such concerns. Please share with others.

Link to fun video just recorded.

“Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder / President of the Option Institute Autism Treatment Center of America, and The Son-Rise Program Author of Happiness Is A Choice and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues

Bears’ Core Principles for Staying Alive – 2/20/2023
(Envisioning A New Program for You)

FUN PHOTO – okay…yes, this is one meal among several that I consume daily. Some friends have seen me consume such plates of food and said: UGH. 

I say: WOW. (I currently eat for purpose, not for taste…and it has been transformative)

“Given 5 Days to 5 Weeks to LIVE: Massive metastatic cancer/organ failure, Etc. Went home to hospice but then decided to leave hospice and see if I could program myself to live…and to flourish. Now, almost l0 months later….and robustly still alive with no chemo/no radiation/no intervention. We never made war on cancer….we sent the cancer cells our love (really/sincerely) – and invited them to leave when their ready.

Guideposts of my program: I created and continue to do for myself:
  • attitude – prioritizing love and happiness in very specific ways
  • creating clear purpose 24/7 with clear focus
  • maximizing the experience and expression of gratitude
  • eating special foods and combinations of odd and unusual foods
  • exercising and creating daily movement protocols
  • visualizations and prayers (with a worldwide community of Option Institute/ Son-Rise Program folks)
  • teaching ourselves (Samahria and me) how to most effectively filter through all the information and ‘misinformation’ so we can choose clearly what we want (and what we do not want).  

Your Responses: First and foremost, you sent an avalanche of love and prayers questions/questions/questions throughout these months. Many of you have wanted to know if you could learn a lot more details from our journey and lessons learned and new perspectives adopted. Some of you also shared that if any one of your loved ones are facing challenging and even life-threatening health and medical issues – could also learn more?

Proposal Being Considered: If this is something you or your loved ones might want…we will consider creating a program with this being the focus and substance of what we could present, teach and share. So…please write to me directly, yes, directly at so we have your name and email address and maybe a sentence about what you most want (if you have been following my ‘staying robustly alive’ communications). Also, if you want a full summary of our alerts to you about this journey, let us know in your email so we can send to you.

“We have spent the last 40 plus years helping folks in 140 countries…this would be continuing that mission as always (YES, with all our current programs) but this course would have a very new, special focus. We would love to hear from you if you are interested.”

Blessings, love and gratitude, Bears (and, of course, Samahria, too).

Co-Founders – Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America/Son-Rise Program

PS: And thank you/thank you for your continued prayers…..we do believe your prayers are very much part of my healing.

Bears’ Exciting Update on Bears – Including Fun Video – 1/30/2023

Current photo of Bears and Samahria Kaufman

Happily, and still robustly alive on January 26, 2023. So grateful. So honored to be able to write to all of you. Continued healing (or, we might say for now — continuing to rock’n roll), still no medical intervention (no chemo/no radiation), teaching again for many months now, working with individuals and families…. and having the best time at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America).

“And so, so, so grateful and delighted to walk this path with many who have chosen to love me… and the biggest spirit and sunshine is my best partner and dearest friend and most caring spirit/lover in my life for over six decades (yes, yes, that’s a sweet and super long expanse of time) You guys know her bright light (as she has been for me, she has been for so many of you).

“Love you, Samahria, and I am so grateful that we continue to hold hands so tightly as we walk this new road together.”

Love and smiles, Bears Barry Neil Kaufman


…more love from Bears

Bears’ Winter Update – 12/19/2022
“We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process”

Fun data – right to the point!

“Summary of the last few weeks (for those who follow my journey and want updates). Again…given 5 days to 5 weeks to live in April (which is almost 8 months ago). No medical intervention since my mid-April hospitalization (no chemo, etc. – zip, zero – though I was told to start chemotherapy many months ago). My most recent scans continue to show further meaningful improvement… continued retreat and even some further disappearance of the stage 4 metastatic lesions throughout my body. And nothing growing larger. Additionally, healing is now occurring in my bones and super positive blood workups for many months now (no signs of continued disease process noted in the blood profiles).

“I said to my main Mass. Gen doctor… I am doing really well. And then he laughed and said, ‘You are doing really, really, really, really well!’ Another consulting physician thought my scans were ‘spectacular,’ and another said – ‘I don’t really see any disease process in these latest scans.’ Another said: ‘We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process happening without chemo or other intervention… but we are delighted for you.’

Yes, yes…I am still alive, robustly alive. “Still much to do to continue this adventure. We (Samahria and I) are very focused on what we are doing (and what I am doing 24/7 with dedication and clear purpose). We love being able to teach again in programs and to work again with families and individual folks – hurrah! Still very passionately alive (and still, it is one day at a time). Thank you all for loving and supporting us and for all your kind notes, messages, and donations to our work at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America/Son-Rise Program.”

With so much love and gratitude to all of you, Bears (and Samahria)

PS: And thank you/thank you for your continued prayers…..we do believe your prayers are very much part of my healing. We always love hearing from you. Please feel free to write me by emailing

Medical Mystery and Wonder!! – 11/1/2022

Photo of Bears and Samahria Kaufman from November, 2022

Enjoy this latest update from Bears’ Doctor regarding his cancer journey… with reflections from Bears and Samahria below.

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD          
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher
Endowed Chair,
Clinical Excellence in Nephrology
Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm,
Medical Services,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

October 30, 2022

Dear Bears,

“For a guy with a 5-day life expectancy 7 months ago, you are not doing badly!!

“I have had the chance to review your progress with the attending oncologist/lymphoma specialist and it is important to stress how pleasantly surprised we both are.

In essence, we are still quite convinced that the pathology is related to a B cell lymphoma and that you have done spectacularly well in the past 6 months with no chemotherapy.

“At the time of your original presentation to the Connecticut hospital, you were placed in the ICU with severe elevation of calcium, delirium, acute kidney failure, multiple bone lesions suggesting cancer and although they did not have the diagnosis then, they believed that you had terminal cancer. They actually believed that regardless of the kind of cancer you may have, your kidney condition and your medical issues would not permit you to get treatment. They believed that the appropriate course of action was to send you home with hospice.

“As we have repeatedly stressed, you got the best of hospice care possible from the support and love from everyone around you. Your hard work, fierce determination and positive attitude have made you our Miracle Man!!

“In the past 6 months, without therapy, laboratory and imaging studies have continue to indicate that the tumors are regressing. The serial PET/CT scans are obviously the most dramatic statements of progress. There has been no new lesions and the existing liver lesions and bone lesions are all showing signs of regression.

10/22/22 PET summary:

Re-demonstrated bony lesions as seen on previous scans, similar in appearance on CT images, now with sclerotic changes associated with healing pathologic fractures. PET shows decreased avidity of lesions, the most avid of which remaining is the manubrium (previously 2x hepatic reference, now approximately equal to hepatic reference).

“We clearly do not have good explanation about this welcome course of events but are, at this point, happy to continue to monitor.

“More importantly, you are in the best physical and mental condition you have been in for decades.

“While one should never underestimate the power of the lymphoma, it is clear that we are currently on a winning streak and is doubling down yet again on your projected life expectancy.

“I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you, I remain”

Yours sincerely,

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD

7 Month Mark

Bears’ Update on Bears (with Samahria)

  1. “I am still robustly alive and beyond inspired and grateful.
  2. “Above is the most up-to-date summary from my key physician at Mass. Gen. Hospital in Boston (written Sunday Night, 10/29/2022).
  3. “My further thoughts – profound gratitude and love and joy…and reflections, like ‘yes, thank you’ to God and the universe for offering Samahria and I this unique opportunity,
  4. “Love and conviction for the principles we have created and taught (which we have shared with you in previous updates) with the Option Process and The Son-Rise Program for 45 plus years worldwide….and now to apply every/every aspect of those teachings when we were (and still are) life/death challenged.
  5. “Your prayers…so many of you have offered your prayers daily…and we believe that is a significant/significant part of this unfolding event (please keep them coming).
  6. “While one may choose to never underestimate the power of cancer…one may also choose to never underestimate the power of beliefs.
  7. “And yes, every day….every minute and every second can be a celebration – all each of us has, and all that Samahria and I have, as well, is today. This very moment. If I am not here tomorrow…oh my gosh, no regrets but so much love and gratitude to live this unfolding version of our lives. One day at a time.”
“Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder of the Option Institute, The Son-Rise Program,

Autism Treatment Center of America, and Author of Happiness Is A Choice and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues

PS: I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share or make contact BY CLICKING REPLY or SENDING AN EMAIL TO

Recent Photo, Bears Sept. 2022

“Remember, Stage 4 Massive Metastatic Cancer…
New ‘Twists and Turns’ – 9/23/2022

5 days to 5 weeks to live. That was the diagnosis and prognosis during my hospitalization almost 5 months ago. Since I am writing this, you can see I am very much alive (and really healing and doing well without any medical intervention since that hospitalization in April, 2022 – no chemo, no radiation… just my own personal stay-alive purposeful action plan).

“The surprising new ‘twists and turns’.

My physician(s) decided to re-analyze the very first bone biopsy I had about 5 months ago…which, at that time, did not yield any identifiable cancer cells. Zero. Zip.

“However, in the new reanalysis just done a few weeks ago, they believe they have found a minuscule amount of fast growing ‘crushed’ lymphoma cells and they have guided me to start chemotherapy immediately.

“But wait. That biopsy into my body was originally almost 5 months ago, and after being released from the hospital, I have gained so much strength and healing, and now feel as sharp as I have ever felt in my life (sincerely)… without any medical intervention since that hospitalization.

“If I have a few fast-growing Stage 4 lymphoma cells, shouldn’t I be dead by now…or at least super sick, since I have had no treatment? But I am neither dead nor super sick right now. And all my PET/CT scans suggest healing (liver all okay now), and other bone lesions either staying the same or getting smaller.

Still, the doctors (kind, very sincere and caring) insisted that the lymphoma is being masked and will start to grow. But, again, what about these 5 months and me, right now, feeling wonderful as I write to all of you? Shouldn’t this be part of the clinical equation? Hmmmm! Fascinating!

“Next unexplained phenomenon – how do we know the minuscule amount of lymphoma cells are even there anymore? Stage 4. Shouldn’t it have spread quite profoundly through my body? But if we check out the repeated scans, no such thing happened thus far. And yes, we plan to take another scan in the future months.

“I said to one of my doctors, ‘If I don’t do chemo, what is the worst thing that could happen? Now…don’t laugh…. but I am smiling…I guess I could die.’ Remember – about 5 months ago, I was in hospice and made quick friends with death…as did the most amazing person in my life, Samahria. But, oh my gosh, I left hospice and didn’t die in 5 days or 5 weeks. I redirected my focus and decided to program myself, as best I could, to live.

Kind of fun: I am still living and so grateful. Living big time in the passion of The Son-Rise Program/Option attitude (maximizing love every moment, being super present, filling myself with gratitude, living on purpose with purpose), eating super differently, exercising which helped me regain my strength, praying and receiving all your daily prayers (which I believe is one of the important keys to my healing).

“Wow… so wonderful writing this to all of you. Why? I can wrap myself in all your love, prayers, and kind words. I can wrap myself into my living experience. And these past months have been among the truly sweet, most delicious, and nourishing experiences of my life. I am doing my best to continue to live and thrive. I am living with the most dedicated, daring, and loving person that I have known – Samahria. And, wow, now I am beginning to teach and do individual sessions with people again!

“Samahria and I will stay the course… continuing to live the best days of our lives! Can something change…and we will then change direction? Sure. Right now, heads up high, follow our hearts (and thoughts), and keep reaching for the stars!”

Love you all, Bears

Samahria holds the sun and sunshine in her hands and in her heart and in her spirit. That sunshine, from the inside of both of us, always lights our way. Photo by me, Bears


“YES, still grateful, happy and always maximizing the choice to be loving.

“YES, always using the attitude and the tools from The Son-Rise Program® and Option Process® to guide me — questions, nourishing beliefs, clarity of purpose, persistence, love, and gratitude for what is)…

“YES, to what is and evolving even if there are and were surprises along the way, like the doctors believing I would be dead within 5 days to 5 weeks in April… but I am still here almost months later and the ‘cancer’ seems to be retreating in some areas and not growing in other areas — all WITHOUT medical intervention. And I am working to regain all my strength but my clarity of purpose and passion is fully/fully alive. And then there are the prayers that many of you do daily for me and with me…. sincerely, that has made all the difference. Thank you for loving me, Samahria, and all the folks at the Option Institute and the Autism Treatment Center of America.

“WE LOVE ALL OF YOU! Big time!”

Bears’ Barry Neil Kaufman

My Current Medical Reality, Including Surprises: – 7/13/2022

Current photo of Bears and Samahria taken this past Sunday, July 10th, 2022

  • “Lesions in the liver continue to get smaller and continue to heal (with no signs of cancer in the liver), although part of my original diagnoses was liver metastases.
  • “The new scans from last week were compared with scans about 7 weeks ago… since I have not had any treatment, the expectations with pervasive metastatic cancer would be for all my lesions/tumors to have grown. Instead, all lesions have either stayed the same size while some have gotten smaller.
  • “Also, my getting stronger physically (exercising, special diet, etc.) and continually experiencing super-sharp mental acuity, seemed at odds with my “condition.” No explanation for my doing so well when all medical expectations were the opposite. In fact, I had defied the original prognosis and the medical guidance at the end of April, that I realistically I had 5 days to 5 weeks to live. For me, attitude (Option Process/Son-Rise Program perspectives), purpose (creating beliefs that nourish and nurture – and set direction), to love, to feel and express gratitude… and receiving all those wonderful prayers worldwide coming (gifts from all of you) – are the essential component that have helped guide this unusual adventure.
  • “Each and everyone involved in your case finds it perplexing,” said our core physician at Mass General Hospital in Boston.  Remember, weeks previously that group of experts reviewing my situation essentially called this “the strangest case they have seen.”  However, my core physician said: “tell your students and people who are praying for you to keep those prayers coming.”
  • “All the lesions have caused “holes” in my bones throughout my body, including my spine – so being super careful right now is of prime importance… with my exercising and walking laps. Can these holes heal?  Answer, for the moment, seemed to be “yes – sort of”.
  • “All the doctors still believe I have advanced metastatic cancer… they just say they can’t find it (after taking biopsies three times).  They use words about the scans like “suggests” or “concern for” or “suspicious of” this type or that type of cancer. The most frequently mentioned cancer is metastatic multiple myeloma.

“Now let’s jump into this past Friday:”

  1. “My case was then referred to hematology oncology department… to a specialist among a group of specialists in multiple myeloma.
  2. “That specialist said what others said… all the lesions/tumors should have grown (they did not…some got smaller), you should be feeling much worse (maybe not even alive)…. we taught him SBR (yes, we did – to explain our delight and playfulness with him.  He was fascinated and could not believe the “guy” – me – on zoom with him was the same guy on the scans)…. and then he said, to our next surprise, “I don’t believe you have multiple myeloma.”  Further, he didn’t have any answer as to what those scans really meant given the “me” in front of him. He now wanted to re-consult with others.  He also wrote down the title of a book… ”Happiness Is A Choice.”  He was young, thoughtful, intelligent and curious and seemed “stumped” for now. 
  3. “I told him I was okay to die the next day after our consultation.  He looked surprised.  I said that doesn’t mean I want to die on Saturday but simply I was choosing not to resist while still building myself with the purpose to live. Resistance is dissonance.  Eventually, I think he liked that… and wanted to know more about SBR vs. SR. Samahria and I, formally or informally, also shared about stimulus-belief-response (choice, freedom and happiness) verses stimulus-response (experiencing ourselves as if we are victims).

“Now let’s jump into some of the core Option Institute/Son-Rise Program Principles that we have taught for 50 years and have applied now.

  • “From the Fearless Program – “Run toward your fears and/or every new challenge.”  And keep your eyes wide open.
  • “From Calm Amid Chaos – “Change is continuous” – so be in the moment and don’t hold on to the log in the river…swim with the current and not against it.  Also, from Calm Amid Chaos, “The cause is in the future.”  I know many of you adore this concept and it has helped you improve the quality of your lives.  In our lives (and in the course), we get plenty of opportunities to understand and apply this life-changing concept.
  • “From Power Dialogues Course (and book) – open our arms wide, practice acceptance with whatever the issue…and yes, keep asking Option Process questions to uncover and change our beliefs.
  • “From the Son-Rise Program Start-Up (and Maximum Impact and New Frontiers Programs) – we don’t need to protect ourselves from what we don’t understand.  Keep those arms open, practice acceptance and jump in – so we can understand and learn more – about ourselves, our children and the challenges and opportunities we face.

Bears & Samahria with 2 of their sons (Raun and Ravi) who assisted them in the many times they needed to go to Mass General Hospital in Boston

“I Am Still Alive. I Am Here Right Now.”

“I could go on and on with reference points. But please know, sincerely, we are challenging everything we face in these few months… not because we want to be adversarial but because we decided to strive for a different outcome than what we were told and had been predicted. Hmm, I am smiling… remember all the doctors who said our son had a below 30 I.Q. and would never be able to talk. We decided to explore the possibility of a very different outcome based on very, very different beliefs. Ultimately, not only did he talk, demonstrate a near genius I.Q, graduate from a major Ivy League University… but became an author, teacher, and lecturer. And he is just one of so many children and adults, who, when approached with acceptance and deep love, have changed and flourished as students and participants in our courses.  That is why we have created all these courses that you could attend if you so desire. “I am still alive. I am here right now. Remember, many medical folks thought I would be gone by now… and some still think that is on the table (sooner than later). However, in this moment (and that’s all any of us really have)… I am so excited and so grateful to be here in every unfolding second. Thank you for all your loving emails, internet posts and letters…. and, most important, for all your prayers.” Love and Huge Gratitude, Bears

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: “Strangest Case They Have Ever Seen”


Dear Wonderful Friends – really you are my family – and as such, I want to share something profound that is happening.

We can decide that new, even challenging experiences, can be used to empower what we teach (thoughts matter, beliefs matter, actions matter, prayers matter, LOVE matters) and rise to a higher and more wondrous level of ourselves.  Something unanticipated has happened and, I believe, all of you are a very meaningful part of this “adventure.”

This might just tickle your imagination (wow, it does mine) and allow you to dream bigger than you have ever dreamed before.  This may also inspire you to want everything in spite of the evidence (like the Son-Rise Program moms and dads who have defied the prognoses of doctors and experts by working with their children… or the folks challenging trauma with the Option Process and then finding clarity and peace, even as others were so skeptical and unsupportive).

We had asked Wendy Edwards (an Option Board member, a Son-Rise Program mom, a Wide-Awake Master Class student and doctor in her day-to-day life) to help us interpret and decipher the information we have been given from my medical files (there is tons of data, CAT scans, MRIs, etc. and biopsies and prognoses). When she studied all the medical data and read the letter below, she wrote the following to me. “Bears, I am so pumped!!!  You are Mr. Miracle Walking!

Well, I am smiling… I am still upright (yes, walking now) even though when I came home from the hospital, I could not stand, and the pain was intense.  However, when Samahria and I were met by the folks from Hospice, we smiled, loved them and expressed gratitude for their help.  Nevertheless, I have been very determined and energetically working my “butt” off to regain strength (still in process) – and the Hospice folks (now called palliative care support team) said (in so many words), I was not acting like a person who had been given 5 days to 5 weeks to live.

The letter below comes directly from my key doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Leslie Fang, who is a highly accomplished and respected physician who has consulted with a team of top medical and experts.  I want to share this letter and summary he catalogued about my life (and the doctors’ investigation) over the past (almost) two months.  He has been wonderful (actually, for decades) in supporting me (and some members of my family) with his sincere caring and high-level expertise.

-Letter from Dr. Leslie Fang-

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher
Endowed Chair,
Clinical Excellence in Nephrology
Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm,
Medical Services,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

-June 15, 2022

Dear Bears,

This letter serves as an update to a very confusing 2 months for all of us regarding the history of your illness.

You initially presented to an outside hospital with symptomatic hypercalcemia with calcium level as high as 19 (normally below 10).  

You were transferred to Norwalk Hospital for continuing care.  

During the Norwalk hospitalization, you had:
  • Persistently elevated calcium necessitating aggressive therapy
  • Acute kidney failure related to the high calcium
  • Confusion and delirium related to the high calcium
  • Finding of multiple lytic lesions in the vertebrae, ribs and pelvis
  • Abnormalities in the liver on imaging studies
  • Abnormalities in a brain MRI worrisome for a stroke
Bone biopsy done at Norwalk was non-diagnostic

You were discharged with the diagnosis of:
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Altered mental status
  • Bone metastases
  • Liver metastases
  • Mediastinal mass
  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
  • Acute ischemic stroke
  • Acute hypernatremia
  • Acute renal failure
At the time of your discharge, it was assumed that the entire scenario is most compatible with hypercalcemia due to widely metastatic disease to bone, liver and mediastinum.  You were given a guarded prognosis and encouraged to seek palliative care support.  You were told that your life expectancy is anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks and that no therapy can be given in view of the renal insufficiency, even if they can identify the source of the metastatic disease.

The good news is that you have definitely defied their prognostication.

Since your discharge:

  • Calcium has stayed in the normal range
  • Kidney function has normalized
  • You are 100% back to your old self mentally and getting physically stronger every day
Review of the images taken at the Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed:

  • Widespread bone metastases
  • Liver metastases
  • The mediastinal mass may be thymus and not cancer
  • The brain imaging studies are of such quality that we cannot ascertain that you have had a stroke
  • The unique and challenging news is that we still do not have a diagnosis:
We have repeated the bone biopsy but found only necrotic tissue and no evidence of cancer.

We have done a liver biopsy and have found evidence of healing without evidence of cancer.

Lengthy discussions with innumerable consultants specializing in calcium disorders, bone pathology and liver disease have yielded no answers, with many indicating that this is the strangest case they have seen. More importantly, no one has a suggestion of how we can get a diagnosis considering the fact that we have good biopsy specimens of both the bone and the liver.

We continue to be concerned that we may be dealing with widespread metastatic cancer but, with the control of your metabolic derangements, we are in a much better place.  We would like to see you continue to get stronger, continue to do what you love to do. We believe that we would have a better idea of how best to arrive at a diagnosis as things develop.

We will be monitoring your blood chemistries closely and will be repeating the scans periodically.

Regardless of what we may eventually find, getting you stronger will put us in a better place to deal with what we may need to deal with.

Wishing you progressive improvement,

Yours sincerely,

Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD”  

Three biopsies, including the liver biopsy, and no cancer found.  Yet, comments on the CAT and MRI scans referenced beliefs about metastatic multiple myeloma or lymphoma. Next, the finding that the liver is “healing.”  And then the commentary that this is the strangest case they have ever seen because none of those seasoned medical experts attending the liver conference could explain what they saw in that liver biopsy.

What could we (Samahria and I) choose to believe about this unfolding reality? We continue to choose optimism and gratitude and love – big time.  But we also believe that all of you are part of what is still unfolding.  Thousands of messages and prayers have been sent to me from different continents, at all hours of the day and night (via email, Facebook posts, actual letters).  24/7 support from all of you who chose to visualize and pray.  THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  This is currently not only my story… but it is yours, too

And yes… does your expressed love and prayers matter?  To me (and Samahria) personally – of course, beyond measure – but maybe even more than that.  Yes, yes, maybe to the universe!  I believe the love and support you have sent to me has moved the toe of God.  Every single one of you has a played a vitally important part in this “strangest case”.  You have made something amazing, something astonishing, something beautiful come to fruition.  My gratitude to you all is boundless.

I am still alive today (again, outliving suggested prognoses).  My mind is on fire… thoughtful, lucid, self-reflective, inspired…so filled with a magical sense of gratitude/gratitude/gratitude – for all of you.  My body still has much healing to do.  Will I be here tomorrow or next week or month?  Right now – I am alive… and celebratory.  And I am open to embracing my present and my future… and open to believing that something rather “miraculous” is happening today, in this moment… and all we have is this moment.

“5 Days to 5 Weeks to Live”

Update from Bears (6/6/2022)

“The physician looked at me in the hospital bed. Then he looked at Samahria holding my hand. I inquired: ‘If I have metastatic, fast-growing cancer throughout my body… how long do you believe I have to live?’ He said, ‘Some folks might say months… but I think you should think 5 days to 5 weeks.’ This might seem short, but given that the doctors, Samahria and all of my children thought it appeared as if I would never be able to leave the hospital alive, we said ‘Okay… thank you’, and just celebrated the doctor for his authenticity and his soft and caring manner.

“I have outlived the 5-day scenario. What led to my initial ICU trip to the hospital was a condition called hypercalcemia (as a result of cancer) which destabilized absolutely everything in my body, including my ability to think, and communicate. 

“Fast forward: to this very moment. Still alive (with pain and physical limitation) and filled with gratitude and love for the days, hours, and minutes I have to love (to bathe myself in loving Samahria, my family, my Option Institute/Son-Rise Program family, and all of you who cared and shared in the adventure of what Samahria and I created throughout the decades. Each day, I focus on my purpose to live every aspect of what we have been teaching all our adult lives. It’s a delight. To love is a delight we can do any time… all the time. To feel and express gratitude lavishly. To be present. To have a purpose in all our thoughts and actions – is doable (think: Force of Nature). To keep empowering the beliefs that elevate my thoughts and living experiences.  

“Come into my world/our world. What has become one of my most, most treasured experiences is watching Samahria breathe. Her breath and face, for me, are sunshine, uninterrupted love… God is in her face, too. During what appeared as ‘chaos’ in the hospital, one of our children said to Samahria – ‘it’s okay to cry and let go, Mopi.’ And Samahria said to our children… ‘This is exactly what I would want to do and be… I am truly fine, staying present, and knowing that it would not be useful to Popi – or ourselves- to fall apart and be unhappy. I have spent most of my life learning and teaching the benefits of CHOICE! And my choice is to believe that this is the time to use every ounce of that training to be comfortable and loving, so we can best help Popi.’

“For all of you who have written to me, I have felt so gloriously loved and appreciated. And your many comments about what you have changed, learned, and enacted… huge wows. Suggestion going forward: no matter how much you have loved and adored folks around you (spouse, significant others, children, parents, dear friends, and colleagues), take a step up and love them more deeply and passionately than ever…and tell them, tell them and tell them again and again what they mean to you (and be expressive and show your delight). Now is the time… because all we have is now. My gosh, you can even watch them breathe and possibly see God and sunshine in their faces too.”

Love, “Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder of the Option Institute, Autism Treatment Center of America, The Son-Rise Program, and Author of Happiness Is A Choice, and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues

Barry Neil Kaufman

Initial Letter to Son-Rise Program and Option Institute
participants, friends, and family

Bears’ Impending Death: 5 Days to 5 Weeks to Live

Dear Amazing Son-Rise Program and Option Institute participants, friends, and family,

What would you do if you were told you had 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 months to live? If you had just 5 days to live, would you live it in the same way as if you had 5 months? In each moment would you create an opportunity to love greater than even the moment before; Live bigger than you have ever lived; and dug deeper than you have ever dug in your life?

Two weeks ago, when the doctors said to Bears, “You have advanced metastatic cancer”, he and Samahria knew that, in the face of this life-altering news, they would use every tool they have ever been taught at the Option Institute for more than half of their lives, to look at their beliefs and decide how they wanted to show up for each other, and how to show up for themselves. Even in a time of the intense physical pain, sometimes isolation, and lots of uncertainty, they can turn to themselves, and one another, with tender eyes and bright smiles and lead with their belief systems, always aware of what they are thinking, always aware of what they have chosen to think and feel, and always knowing what is in their hands.

If you were told you had just 5 days, on the 7th day would you wake to say “It could be any time” and get small? Would you sit by a window feeling sad that life passed by too quickly? Or would you wake and say “Well, I am still here and I have another beautiful day to feel love and be the love I want to see in the world?”

When I sat with Bears today, he talked about how so many people feel life has passed them by too quickly, yet he said “It wasn’t quick. I have lived my life richly, loved deeply, and experienced the world in the way I have always wanted to experience it. It doesn’t feel like it is gone. It’s a part of the hovering universe… it’s not gone”

Bears and Samahria met as teenagers and they agreed not only to dream but to “do” their dreams. They were city kids who rode horses and motorcycles, climbed the Swiss Alps, created a family of 6 children (3 of whom were adopted), developed and shared The Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute and so much more. In doing their dreams, they always found a space to make it possible because they believed their dreams were doable. So one day you may find yourself feeling like you’re at the bottom of a cliff, knowing it’s okay to keep dreaming. Now is the time to use what you have been taught to make your dreams doable.

As I sat with Bears, he shared with me that his favorite thing to do is watch Samahria breathe. He said that when she breathes, in each breath he feels love… connection… a deep relationship… God… and he feels intensely alive.

Bears is climbing mountains and even as he is climbing mountains, he has a wish… His wish is for all of YOU reading this letter to do love and kindness first… Even in the face of death… look inside yourself first… and do love and kindness.

When Bears spoke to one of his many doctors today, he stopped the conversation and said “John” (they are on a first-name basis after many many years together) “I love you.” Bears then asked “How many patients have said that to you before” to which John replied, “Not a one.” Bears sat across from me today, with Samahria close by, loving me… and loving all of you. He knows at any moment he may not be here on this planet, and he is asking all of you to be a loving, breathing example of what we teach in this world.

So many people with whom we have worked, believe that they have to feel miserable and unhappy after a loved one’s death as a demonstration of their love. What a wonder it would be if you demonstrated your love with joy and gratitude as a testament to what you have learned – as I watched Samahria continue to do.

We are here, we are strong, and we have life to live in every moment. We are here, we are strong, and we have our life to live in every moment! We want to continue holding hands with all of you – as we navigate our futures TOGETHER.

With love,
Amanda Louison / CEO
Read More

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration

Pre-Requisites for this course are:

  • Your child is 7 years or older.
  • Your child uses sentences, asks and answers questions and might even be able to have back and forth conversations with other people.
  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course. Please note, this is a per-person registration

Please make sure you understand the following pre-requisites for this course before registering.

Pre-requisites for this course are:

  • Your child is currently using babbling sounds or unclear words, or
  • Your child has a vocabulary of less than 20 words and is not yet speaking in phrases.
  • You have completed one of the following: The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, The Son-Rise Program Online Course, or you have done Son-Rise Program Consultations.


NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.
Please note, this is a per-person registration

Please make sure you understand the following pre-requisites for this course before registering.

Pre-requisites for this course are:

  • For parents or care-givers who have attended The Start-Up course or who have done The Son-Rise Program Online course.
  • For families who have already started running a Son-Rise Program for their children.


Amanda Louison

  • CEO
  • Director of Operations
  • Senior Son-Rise Program Advisor
  • Former Son-Rise Program Child Facilitator

Personal Statement

"I came to the Autism Treatment Center of America in October of 2008 where I took the position as the Intensive Coordinator. Before coming to the Autism Treatment Center of America, I worked with special children for 13 years, and upon my arrival fell in-love with the Son-Rise Program®. The modality of “Bonding through acceptance” opened my eyes to a world of love and acceptance for my own son, who has ADHD, and inspired me to want to live a happier, more loving life. I soon set the intention of doing the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training so I could share my love with children on a much deeper level. I spent six months observing and learning the Son-Rise Program, and in April of 2009 was accepted into the Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator Training Program and in July of 2010, I became a Son-Rise Program® Child Facilitator staff member and cherished my time in the playroom as a facilitator.

I continued my training at The Autism Treatment Center of America to become a Senior Son-Rise Program® Advisor. My love of Son-Rise Program® inspired me to talk with parents who are just beginning their journey and who are continuing journey with their children using the Son-Rise Program® principals and techniques.

Through the years, I found myself wanting to help our staff grow and the organization flourish, so I have now moved into a managerial role while still working as a Senior Program Advisor. I am currently the Director of Operations and Deputy CEO of the Autism Treatment Center of America and the Option Institute and look forward to working with our staff and with parents of children on the Autism Spectrum for many years to come."

Fun Facts:

Amanda has been married for 24 years and has two amazing children, a son age 22 and daughter who is 18. Some of her favorite hobbies are hiking, reading, finding tag sales, traveling and spending time with her family.

Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar


Our Commitment to Privacy

The Autism Treatment Center of America® (a division of The Option Institute & Fellowship®) are committed to your privacy. This notice serves to help you better understand what information we collect, how we use that information, and with whom we may share a limited portion of that information. If you have questions or concerns regarding this policy, you should contact Customer Support by email

We know that you value your personal information, and we strive to protect your privacy as if it were our own. The Autism Treatment Center of America (a division of The Option Institute & Fellowship) uses of your information is limited to the ways outlined in this notice, except as required by law and/or to comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on us.

Information We Collect From You

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We are committed to protecting the security of your personal information and to honoring your choices for its intended use. To prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, we strive to maintain physical, electronic, and administrative safeguards. We use industry standard security protocol such as encryption and https security protocol to protect your information.
Any time we share your information with a third party consistent with this Privacy Policy, we utilize technological or contractual safeguards in an effort to keep your information safe.
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At any time, you can use the following request form to request any of the following:

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We reserve the right to update the above policy at any time. If we decide to change our Privacy Policy, we will post the updates to this Privacy Policy here and on any other place we deem appropriate, so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.