“Dreams tell us many an unpleasant biological truth about ourselves, and only very free minds can thrive on such a diet.” — Sigmund Freud, Dream Psychology
Freud viewed dreams as attempts by the unconscious to resolve conflicts through dream-work.1,2 Dreams are often a microcosm of our waking world. Dream-work may prepare us for the future. President Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his death. Three days later, he was assassinated.3
What is the purpose of a bad dream? Can we dream of a parent’s health or even for our pet?
My publicist’s email during COVID was brief: Someone named Carla wants to speak with you about her cancer dreams. And I’m forwarding an email from a woman named Amy. She’s dreaming about her cancer — and that of her dog.
The two women had missed their annual mammograms. Amy became a guest on my video podcast, Dreaming Healing, where she explained that the voices she heard specifically said the word cancer. “My vivid dreams felt so real; they really shook me up! They contained monks dressed in red robes who pointed at me and said, ‘metastatic breast cancer.’ Pink smoke filled my breast area.”
During another dream, Amy’s beloved dog Rocky said, “Mommy, I’m very sick with leukemia.” A veterinarian confirmed Rocky’s cancer. Rocky’s death motivated Amy to follow through on her health dreams; she got a mammogram, despite limited patient appointments.
Carla stated that during recurrent cancer dreams, she heard her name called.
Saying you hear voices can be tricky. Saint Joan of Arc was burned the stake for her voices and dreams.4 But voices can save lives. Thirty authors in the book Dreams That Can Save Your Life believed their voices and dreams motivated them to seek medical testing. Reports confirmed their dire dreams, but they lived to write their stories.5
In Chapter 8, Paulette Wyssbrod-Goltz wrote, “The voice in the dream said, ‘Your mother has cancer, she has three months to live, and you have a tumor in your right breast.’” Her dream came true.
Carla and Amy both asked what they should do about their dreams. “Consult your doctor,” I said. “Ask for tests to prove or disprove them, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Fortunately, they both received negative test results for cancer. So, what were their dreams’ purposes? Perhaps they were about the future or were healing dreams. The pink smoke (for breast cancer) could be dream therapy.
Why did Rocky tell Amy he was sick if he was going to die anyhow? Perhaps Rocky prepared his mom for his death.
If dreams are a microcosm of our waking world, it is possible that hourly news statistics on COVID deaths affect our dreams. And maybe this helped push both Amy and Carla to get tested for peace of mind.
During the waking nightmare of a worldwide pandemic, peace of mind is a prized possession.
Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos of Rancho Mirage is a survivor, author, dream expert, speaker, TV/radio host/producer and has been featured on Dr. Oz and The Doctors. For more information or to view her podcast, visit