At the time that Sontag was writing, the current alternative cancer treatment fad was psychotherapy for the patient's supposed "cancer personality". According to these proponents, patients brought cancer upon themselves by having a resigned, repressed, inhibited personality. By undergoing the often blame-filled psychotherapy offered by some groups, such as the Simonton Center, the patient would overcome cancer by consciously choosing to give up the emotional benefits he or she created the cancer for, and be healed.  Others have taken her idea further, showing not that there is a real "cancer" behind the metaphors, but that all we have is metaphor—even in science—to understand the behavior of a disease that remains mysterious. 
By 1954, the average time a patient spent at Firland had been cut in half. Mortality rates at Firland plummeted from 31 percent in 1948 to 6 percent in 1954. In 1957, a team of national officials evaluated Firland and proclaimed it one of the most outstanding sanatoria in the country. A 1948 affiliation with the University of Washington Medical School funneled a steady supply of medical students, nursing students, and resident physicians through Firland. This in turn attracted excellent medical personnel from around the country to Firland’s staff.