← A Healing Journey
"If there is any gift in cancer, it is a deeper listening to ourselves and an examination into the life we've been living. The tragedy of cancer often holds the seeds of grace that wake us up. The powerful trauma of cancer can open people to really profound spiritual issues: What does it mean to be a human being? What are my gifts? What is my purpose? Why am I here? The spiritual crisis of cancer can often be a bridge to the inner guide and higher self where wisdom resides. Cancer creates the necessity that we confront our lack of security and certainty in the world. Our ego - the rational aspect of our consciousness - cannot contain or make sense of certain aspects of life. We suddenly need to look at life from a much broader and wider perspective. The existential crisis is a turning point."
You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” - Unknown
Receiving the Diagnosis
When I was told that I had a brain tumor and that I should expect to live no longer then 12 months, then that prediction became a message that got into my mind – it was hard to ignore. My consultant advised me to get my "house" in order. With other words he wanted to prepare me for dying, based on the statistic he had available about my cancer.
When the news that I had cancer and the given prophecy of a short life eventually penetrated my being in the doctor’s office, I felt very shaky. Caught off guard, I was surprised at how vulnerable I had suddenly become. Nothing - not my competence as a health practitioner or knowledge of cancer, nothing - prepared me to face the verdict of cancer in my own body. It all became very personal. The message that I had cancer plunged me into unfamiliar territory without a compass or a map.
From the moment the consultant uttered the word “cancer” I hardly retained a single word that he said - time and space dropped away. Within the single conversation, I was given the diagnosis and prognosis, and then presented with a complex array of surgical, chemotherapeutic and radio therapeutic options - and be asked to make a choice from the list to give consent for treatment to begin. All at the time, while I was the in a state of profound shock, emotional turmoil and distress. I felt like as I was as " hit by a steam train".
I was in shock and certainly not clear enough at that time to make important decisions about my treatment in the hospital straight away, despite the sense of urgency, created by the oncologist, to start the treatment immediately.
Time to Reflect
What I needed most at that point was time to reflect on what was actually happening to me, to absorb the shock and come to terms with the profound and shell shocking news. It was important to me to avoid a hasty decision about my treatment since this would hardly warranted or lead to a successful result. I needed sufficient time to think about the major decisions involving treatment and care, so that I could become adjusted, motivated, properly prepared and eventual strongly committed to a particular course of action. I strongly felt that if fear were the driver behind the decision-making about my treatment, I would have entered a vicious cycle from which it would have been difficult to escape from.
I took me quite a while to come to terms with this harsh blow cancer had on my life. I suddenly was pulled out of the line of my ordinary life and I had to face my own mortality, realizing how fragile the nature of life can be. The diagnosis was devastating and brought about a wide variety of emotions and reactions, including fear, shock, anger, disbelief and panic
After a few weeks of tremendous inner turmoil’s, misery, grief and despair I was able to pick myself up again. The love of my family and of my friend Helen enabled me to dust myself off from utterly despair and to follow my intuition and inner wisdom, choosing complementary and alternative medicine, which enabled me to turn a bleak prognosis of survival into a glorious adventure of life.
Once I had dealt with my initial reactions, I prepared myself for all the changes that would enter my life. I had to harness my inner strength to cope with the present moment and what the future had in store for me.
Facing the Truth and Accepting it
I accepted the diagnosis but not the prognosis of the so - called statistic! Statistics never apply to individuals! The course of my illness was unique to me! People do survive all different kind of cancers and there was no reason why this should not include me.
It was important for me to get into the right frame of mind and exam my beliefs I had about cancer and the people around me, about how I feel about my life in general, about my fears of death and dying and most important about my own belief to affect my health.
This required the ruthless avoidance of all denial and wishful thinking, feeling like a victim of an unjust destiny or blame myself for having brought the disease upon myself. In fact the diagnosis of cancer inevitably throw me into a process of asking myself about the meaning of life, the purpose of my life and about death and dying. This in it self has helped me to cope with the diagnosis of my cancer and has turned my journey back to health to a positive experience. This does not mean that was always in balance. My needs certainly had changed. Sometimes I was strong and independent and in control through the use of my self help approaches. At other times I felt so vulnerable and tempted to become dependent on the help of medical professions and others. I had times of up and downs, particularly when the physical pain, caused by the tumor, became unbearable.
My previous work had familiarized me with the psychological problems patients with cancer exhibit and the healthy or pathological defenses they develop. With this knowledge, it was paramount for me to avoid any kind of negative thinking. To the physical appearance of cancer, negativity would have added an emotional malignancy to myself. I gained the awareness that I must be willing to shed the image of who I thought I was in order to grow into who I could become. To put it another way, I must be willing to out grow of my old identity. This awareness was certainly scary! I had seen many of my clients undergo just such a transformation, and now it appeared to be my turn.
However, this awareness had helped me to step right then into my power to take control of my situation with a positive mind. The healing of myself and the symptoms of cancer were in my hand. I had to learn how to navigate my ship in a manner that was totally alien to me.
I realized that my goal should be to live a joyful life, try to improve my health and wellbeing, and not worry about whether I was cured. Even those who didn’t have cancer do not have a guarantee about how long their life will be. If my life was shorter than expected, I wanted my children to know me as a person, in addition to being their mom. I wanted to leave a legacy, even if it was to show them how to productively deal with challenges.
I took some time to think about my needs and what kind of help I would need to stay strong and motivated on my journey. I knew I could not do it on my own. Before I became a “burden” to my family and close friends I reached out to others. At first it felt like an embarrassing thing to do – to focus so much attention on myself. However, after I had sent out a “round – robin” letter to many people, articulating my needs for help, they have thanked me for giving them the opportunity to care for me.
I had spread my urge for support to different groups of people, to colleagues, friends, family, etc. which in return provides me with organic vegetables, art material and courses, therapy sessions, councelling, supplements, driving services, outings, walks in nature, spiritual healing, etc. I was glad that I had the courage to reach out and ask for help, it was indeed very empowering and also relieved my family from being the alone carers. My needs and wishes were met and I received letters filled with love and gratitude.
Sometimes it is the softness of a whisper that is needed most.
I took time to gain more information about the kind of cancer I had and explored all different treatment option. I also decided that rather fighting my cancer, it would be better for me to accept that the cancer cells were an integral part of me. Rejecting them would mean, I reject myself. I had the choice between destruction and dying or love for myself and healing. My choice was love and healing, needless to mention that my emotions, thoughts and feelings sometimes fluctuated from one spectrum to the other... all in a matter of minutes.
While I had no control over the flood of arising thoughts and emotion I was in charge how to deal with them, no matter how negative, frightening or socially unacceptable they were. Obsessing about these "unacceptable" thoughts or emotions or giving guilt feelings about them would have only feed the negativity. My time and energy was to precious to think about the worst - case scenarios that may never happen. I wanted to focus my energy on life and on coping with the increased physical and emotional demands.
I wanted to treat my illness as a personal journey. I rebelled against the old teaching, when we are ill the doctor is in charge, that he or she has all the knowledge and expertise and that I must do as I'm told and be a good, compliant patient.
It was important for me to marshal my own maximum resources, both inner and outer ones, in addition to finding an appropriate treatment regime. All my energies were focused at the task at hand. And the task was gigantic. At times it appeared insurmountable. However, I was convinced that living with a positive attitude was the only way that I could succeed.
I was aware of how much patient’s minds and emotions can influence their recovery, and that people can participate in their own healing. Having worked in the field of Homeopathy and complementary medicine over 30 years I knew that just treating the physical body and ignoring the mind is not the best overall approach. I knew that the state of body, mind, emotions, spirit and environment are inextricably linked with each other. The leap into my subconscious was crucial for my healing and to overcome cancer. The mind and body must work in unison together!
I became more and more aware of how much I could do to enhance my chances of surviving cancer, and with that the fear I had in the beginning started to diminish. In fact I felt more powerful then the disease. I could see my cancer as a wake - up call, which enabled me to go through a complete health and life revival.
Transforming the Crisis into a Healing Experience
Cancer enabled me to transform a crisis into an opportunity for healing my health and life.
After considering all my treatment options I followed my own intuition and inner wisdom to support my cancer-healing journey with a natural-holistic approach to stay well and to give myself the best chance of full recovery. I had done enough research about the effects conventional treatment would have had on me. In fact, medical treatment would have made my body more toxic and weakened my immune system. My immune system was already depleted and I didn't wanted to pay the prize of further sacrificing my health.
I also believed that the medical profession is / was far from having the answer to cancer. Doctors may been successful in removing tumors from the body, but the medical professionals have not addressed the underlying conditions in the body in which the cancer developed in the first place. I did not wanted to be lulled into a false sense of security and hope that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery would safe my life.
I desired a treatment approach that was aligned with my believes and nourished my enthusiasm.
It was vital to me to take an active role in the management of my healing, rather then sitting back and expecting that conventional medicine was the only answer to my health situation. I believed, that my own contribution to my recovery process would make a huge difference to my healing from cancer. Taking actions got me out of the mug, I became the creator for my healing.By taking actions about my healing I was in charge and decided what was right for me - I engaged with my own healing.
I wanted to explore more what the complementary road, had to offer me, to gain my health back. I wanted to use every known way from all different wisdom's to overcome my condition. Homeopathy was the first choice of medicine for my treatment. Homeopathy, I know from many experiences in my life and working with patients, is the one medicine that touches deeply into a person, truly creating wellness on all levels, for the homeopathic remedies touch the soul. Homeopaths view the person and the symptoms in a totality; and it is the totality of symptoms in a person that we treat.
Beside of this I had added many other complementary and healing therapies to my journey through cancer, to gain my health back. I wanted to use every known way from all different wisdom's to heal and to overcome my condition.
But there was also another factor for my choice of treatment: I had the willingness to let my illness act as a catalyst for transformation to come back into alignment with my core selves, my body and soul. I wanted to become well. I was open to either feeling a bit better or being completely healthy. Either way, I felt this was better than focusing on being sick. I then decided that if I was to get insights from my body, I needed to connect to my emotions.
Everyone must decide for himself or herself how to deal and treat their illness, but regardless of the severity of the diagnosis should inform themselves thoroughly before making a decision.
I faced myself with the question, why am I sick? What path did I follow to get me here? Why did I choose that path? What would bring me peace and joy? But the more critical questions I had to ask myself were: Why do I want to heal? Is it just to be free of pain? Why do I want to live? What is the purpose of my life? What is the mission of my life, what vision to I have for my life? What service do I want to do? If I don’t do it in my life, will I be sad in my last breath?
Finding the answers to these questions has been very important for my personal growth and healing. On most of the earlier crises in my life, I had not focused on my inner being, my mind - body continuum. In most of such cases, I was quick to blame the outside world for the state I was in. It was easy to take credit for good fortune, but extremely difficult to accept complete responsibility for any ills. As long as the going was good and all was well, the mind-body continuum rarely came into play.
We are used to analyzing why we are unhappy... but taking the time to contemplate our happiness is important too.
However, I found that it is/ was just important, if not more so, to analyze my happiness, to recognize when I was feeling joyful and content and what creates a warm inner glow of joy and excitement. I recognised that we all have the ability to know when we are feeling joyful, happy and content. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness.
In this new space within me I had a desire to heal and to let go of all that did not serve me anymore. I went through old boxes to clean out anything that did not represent me anymore. I created space for new bright light and more space to spread my wings to fly higher.
The Muse - My Studio
I also came back to my first language as a child, which was art. I pulled the artist and her gear out of my inner closet and started to paint after many years of denying myself this passion but recognized that there has been many times before in my life that I have used my art to heal.
Whenever totally involved in any of my art work, I enter a totally different space, where time and troubles dissolved and that essential creative spirit totally took over, transporting me to a place greater then myself. Some call it God or the universe, but essential it is the same guiding light, source or comfort and power available to all of us. I'm a living proof that art not only heals, but also open us up to the joy of being alive, creative and living the dream, despite or due to the challenges everyday life brings.
Art was a "life saver" for me. When Colours Dream and Art Heals.
The canvas allowed an acceptable place to unfold my wings and take flight, as the unhidden me; it gave the space to soar, breathe and interact with an inner dimension filled with vibrant colors of joy, wisdom, sparkles, and belly laughter. It was where I conversed with the Muse’s and squealed in complete joy from receiving their inspiration and guidance, without fearing ridicule or labeled as having an active imagination, too hypersensitive or ideal. I didn’t realize it then but this marked the beginning journey of self-acceptance.
I began painting for a few exhibitions and found that it served as a vehicle to pull all that resided within me into an image – a translation of the soul that was far more powerful than words have ever been for me.
Painting, dancing and writing has become my soul- therapies. It shows me a visual reflection of what happens inside my mind. I was able to sort out my thoughts and feelings through symbols and colors. My art became an expression of my being and a celebration of being here.
Art (Link Art - Healing) not only helped me to deal with my experiences; but it assisted me in pain management and stress reduction as well. Creating art provided for me a way to cope with emotional conflicts increased my self-awareness and expressed unspoken and often unconscious concerns about my life and my illness. I detected undiscovered treasures in my life. My soul and spirit received nourishment and I started to enfold. I experienced (and still do) great joy when I was engaged with my art work. In my studio I started to claim the lost parts of myself back.
Reaching out for Support and Sharing with Others
Reaching out to others and sharing my life with them was a way to strengthen myself on the path towards my healing. Comfort repeatedly came even from unexpected sources, including people, not even close to me, out of the nowhere. People offered major assistance, as the possibility of my staying with them, being "on call" for me at any hour of the day or night and many other services. I was surrounded by warmth and caring in an almost surreal way, which in turn fed my emotional strength. Having received aid and support from my family and friends fostered my will to live, helped me to cope and encouraged me in my determination to overcome my illness. Through my own initiative of reaching out to others I created a beneficial and joyful network of friends and support for myself. Reaching out to others to support me in my healing process or when I was in need during times of physical weakness was indeed a very humbling experience for me.
Getting Motivated, Identifying Priorities and Setting Goals
Identifying priorities and setting goals, both short - term as well long -term ones, played a vital role in my healing process. They not only focused all energy on a particular path but also added a new meaning and excitement to my life as each day passed.
My goals got altered as my priorities changed. New ones constantly got added, others dropped. Only I understood my needs and requirements for the day. If some of my objectives were not being fulfilled I either was striving too high or was simple not able to fulfill my goal. It was an important lesson in balancing my energy.
The results of my daily efforts brought a great amount of satisfaction. At the end of a day, I felt proud at having most days achieved what I set out to and made each passing day a joyous one. And creating joy was mandatory for melting the existing tumors in my body.
My experience with cancer also showed me the dire importance of healthy living. This was a judicious combination of a healthy diet and regular physical exercises, in form of walking in nature, yoga and dancing. This has helped me, not only in building up my energy and internal strength, but also kept my mind-body active, even in the most adverse situations.
The trick is to Enjoy life. Don't wish away your days for better ones ahead.
I also recognized that doing things to avoid dying, doesn’t work.
If you meditate, eat vegetables, exercise yoga and jog, so that you won’t die, you’ll be very upset some day that you didn’t sleep late, and have an ice cream cone.
I do things because I feel good living a certain way. I examined my life and made my own personal commitment to find out what aspects of my lifestyle or beliefs were choking my life force and vitality, drained my energy, burdened, depressed or stressed me. I stepped back to see things from a different, fresh perspective, so that I could see options and opportunities that I never knew were waiting for me. I recognized that my personal response to cancer could make a huge difference to both my quality of life and survival.
All over all, I made a commitment to finding the healing I needed for my body mind and spirit. I became personally empowered to believe in my own ability to affect my health and well-being and experienced that it is possible to move the entire mountain one piece at the time. It was important to me to be involved in my own healing. I had so much to live for.
Cancer - A Turning Point - A Dynamic Turnaround
Cancer was a wake -up call for me. It became a Turning Point - a Dynamic Turnaround in my life. It was an opportunity for me to put back into my life what was missing and needed to be addressed. My journey was as much a spiritual one as it was a cleansing path. Much like the Jungian approach of bringing the unconscious to the surface in search of the true self, my path quickly evolved in to a confrontation with and removal of blockages.
Traumatic experiences cause us to regroup and to reevaluate how we are living our lives. We have fallen into the pattern of using pain as our motivator. As long as we are not in pain, we will just plod along, day after day, without much thought. We halfheartedly go through the motions of doing what we need to do to survive. We go to our jobs to make money to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. We take care of our families’ physical needs, and with the little bit of time that is left; we try to take care of ourselves.
When a tragedy happens, however, we are forced to put our lives into perspective. We stop for a moment and focus on what really matters to us and forced to put our lives into perspective. We have a choice as to whether we allow catastrophes to catapult us into lives of fear and dread or whether we use those experiences to motivate us into creating lives of fulfillment and joy. We have the ability to do both of those things; the path we choose is up to us.
What has transpired over the course of my healing journey and writing this workbook has been miraculous. I have seen and felt personally the shifts and changes take place in my own life and others as a result of committing myself to my well - being. Commitment can come in many shapes and sizes.
My journey took me into the depth of my being and spirit with counselling and spiritual healing, with the help of the gentle restorative medicine of homeopathy and acupuncture. I learned to nourish my body with healthy food, supplement and vitamins and how to meet my emotional needs with the love of women friends instead of focusing only on the care of my partner.
I lifted my spirit by engaging with creative art, music, meditation and dancing and fulfilled my life purpose by setting up the dynamic turnaround to support others on their journey through cancer and back to health.
I was very frightened but I was also very brave. I had in the beginning no idea where to start and what would work. Every step on my journey was an exploration, a negotiation with my caregivers and myself. The only guiding star I had on my journey was my feminine intuition and from those I call my earthy angels, who were brave enough to step outside of the box of medical thinking in an attempt to support me fully on my journey. I was blessed with everyone in my health care team that they never questions my decision to reject conventional medical treatment and that most of them have been knowledgeable in the field of complementary medicine and had an understanding about behavioural medicine. This made it for me easier to explore the role of lifestyle and emotions in the development of cancer and allowed me to find out what I could / needed to do to affect the health of my body for the recovery of cancer.
"We were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?"
As you embark on your healing journey, allow yourself the opportunity to be flexible and to nurture those parts of yourself that are blocking your progress. When an individual is aware that changes are to take place in their lives, it allows them to be more open and available to the flow of creation. When a person is not aware, the opposite is true: it is challenging and the ego wants to control the situation and outcome. In saying that, make yourself aware of what is going on as you go through your healing and growing time. Get a sense of what you are about to create and how you would like the outcome to look like. Sometimes the “doing” is the key to the transformation and not the overall goal. The goal will get you there, but the actual action that you put into achieving the goal is where the real worth lies.
You have important work to do in this world. It may be challenging, it may bring up deep emotions, but more then anything, it will bring you to self-discovery! You will learn many new ideas and techniques that can change the way you think and feel about yourself and the world you live in. The main criteria is for you to have an open mind, to be 100% honest with yourself when you embark upon a journey that will lead your soul into divine awakening of your heart.
You are a gift from the universe; you are precious, loved and deeply cared for. You hold great purpose on this planet and you are needed for the growth of all humanity.