As I work with people going through cancer, some who are just recently diagnosed, some finished treatment and moving into their new norm, and sadly, some who have had a reoccurrence, I hear patterns of thinking. I recall my efforts to shake myself out of stuck patterns when I started researching how I was going to survive my cancer.
I think we grow up believing that medicine can cure us. The antibiotic we take when we get an infection, the surgery when something goes amiss, the pills for this and that. It’s the magic bullet syndrome where a pill or surgery will cure what ails us and we can continue along our way as before.
Over the years, I’ve always been drawn to simple and natural ways to heal from basic injuries, illnesses, etc. Obviously an appendix attack is not going to be cured by natural means, nor is a broken limb, but other occasions do warrant a different approach. We really need to understand what our allopathic medical model is really good at – trauma.
Maybe this goes back to my days as a professional dancer. I needed to be well in order to perform and paid. There wasn’t always a doctor on hand to fix a problem. So I tried really hard not to have a problem in the first place. I went to an osteopath when my body hurt – an adjustment usually put me right. I drank a hot drink of lemon honey when I had a sore throat and had to sing or talk for performances. I went to bed when I was able to rest and repair if I was unwell. I wasn’t one to take too many pills, except vitamins which my Mother started us on as kids.
Being a dancer, I am finely tuned in to my body and what it’s saying. This is something that I have discovered is not inherent in everyone. So I know when something is not right. Then I start a process of figuring out what isn’t right, where it started, what can fix it, and then what action I need to take. This is probably what saved me from ‘falling through the cracks’ of the medical system, as my doctor so succinctly mentioned, when I got cancer.
I had been doing push-ups again. I felt a tightening and soreness from my shoulder to my breast and figured I’d pulled a muscle. Then, to my surprise, I found a pea size lump in my breast that I could see and feel right along the path of the soreness. That’s when I went to the doctor. We thought it was a cyst because a routine mammogram didn’t indicate a lump, even though it was visible. Six months later, I realized that the lump had grown, so back to the doctor. By then she figured something was off. I was sent to a surgeon who took one look, booked me immediately for a biopsy at the hospital across the street from his office, and the rest is history. The simple small lump which we thought could be dealt with through surgery and possibly radiation, turned out to be a larger problem. The cancer had already spread to 14 out of 22 lymph nodes – very aggressive. Good that I followed up and checked.
Having a propensity for doing the natural method, I did check out other options. Chemotherapy scared me. It was not my first choice. However, not having enough time and resources, I went through with it. Afterwards was my mind shift. I realized that this was not my path for healing. The journey began, stretching my belief systems to encompass other ways of healing.
I did a lot of research and found out that most of the people who survived cancer long term followed this path. They researched and found other ways of healing – ways to balance their immune system so their body could fight back. They explored their world and determined what was important, what was not, and made shifts – some dramatic. They dug deep within themselves to discover their true authentic self and what that would mean going forward.
It is hard work, no doubt about it. It can be very painful as well. Truly, it is the best work that a person can do – it sure was for me. Most people live their lives unconsciously, moving along in the rut of daily habits and routine, never looking up or inside to see if their activities and lifestyles are attuned to their true being. In fact, many don’t even know their true being. It’s become lost in the busyness and chaotic chatter of life as they know it.
Can a major mind shift change and make a huge difference in how you heal and move forward from a cancer diagnosis. Absolutely!
It does take courage. It does mean overcoming the fear of change and the unknown. It does mean facing opposing views from those close to you who only want you to be well, but don’t understand the shift going on within you. It means resetting priorities. It requires strength to stand in your space and claim it. And it will always be this way because the new path you may choose to take will likely mean you will not always be understood by the many.
The medical community does not always understand this either. They are often woefully unaware of your emotional state as they have been trained to deal only with the physical. I’m talking about small things that could have huge repercussions for your wellbeing – i.e. not having blood taken from the arm in which lymph nodes have been removed. The question I got from the lab tech was ‘How long has it been since your surgery?’ as if that mattered. There was no understanding that your lymph nodes were not growing back so this was a forever issue. Having blood taken on that arm can lead to lymphedema, a condition for which there is no cure and will impact your life forever going forward. Small, but not insignificant – a matter of no education!
How much do you want to put your life in the hands of someone else to determine your fate? Not me. I opted to take responsibility for me and my health. When I go to a doctor, I treat them as a member of my team and ask questions, dig and have conversations about what I’ve learned and require. It takes a special doctor who will listen but they are out there. I think this is happening more and more as people have access to information on the internet – patients are more informed.
Is this a rant about the traditional medical model? No. It’s about understanding what doctors are really trained to do. It’s understanding that they have little if no information about nutrition which is a key factor in healing. My knowledge is they get one hour of nutrition in med school. They are trained to prescribe medications. Medical schools are funded by major pharmaceutical company’s hence influence research. Having this knowledge means you can move outside this model to find other, time-tested systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, etc. that have been used for centuries successfully. Understand how they work and how they can be added to your healing toolkit. Some will appeal to you, some not. That’s okay. You will find what is right in time.
Remember that your health is most important to you and your family. To the medical team, they are swamped, so you may become a statistic to them, although some do care. They are too busy trying to stem the tide of more and more people coming to them with cancer. It hasn’t entered their minds that maybe we can stop this flow with better knowledge about prevention and lifestyle shifts. They are in ‘doing’ mode.
You can stop the flow. You have power. You can get the knowledge. You can get well. It’s up to you how strongly you feel about this issue. I would love to see the day when there is no cancer or very little. Similarly, I’d love to see the day when there were no cancer clinics or we were shutting them down for lack of patients. What could that world look like?
We can be part of the solution if we stand up for what we know and believe. What do you say? Is this something you could get behind or are you still thinking that someday there will magically be a cure – a cure that would put in jeopardy the livelihood of many people involved in the cancer industry? Personally, I’m not holding my breath. I’d rather take care of it myself. What about you?
To your well-being,