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6 Low or No Cost Ways to De-Stress and Find Balance by Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

A lot of complementary therapies are expensive. I know because I use their services or products (massage, chiropractor, vitamins and herbs, naturopath). For balance, I have other outlets to offset my budget to give my mind/body/spirit a break from the hustle and bustle of my life. I’m sure many of you can relate – life is busy.

What can you do to stay ahead of the stress? Here are some suggestions that won’t break the bank or your budget.

1. Reading

Join a library. Most libraries charge a nominal fee for membership. This is where I get 90% of my fiction books. The others are through exchanges with friends. Non-fiction books I get from the library first. If I find they will be useful and a resource, I buy them through Amazon using the $25.00 free shipping option – I wait until I have enough books to make up that amount.

Books usually have a message for me – fiction or non-fiction. Even when reading the front and back cover, there is no clue to what message will be waiting for me to discover inside. This magic happens when a book catches my eye usually as I’m browsing. Sometimes a friend suggests a book or a book is given to me. There are many ways books move into my world. They all share an uncanny sense of being the right book at the right time.

The other benefit of reading is total absorption. The world melts away. I’m not thinking of anything else. No lists, tasks, obligations – just the book. My brain gets a total rest from the track it was on. This is when solutions appear – knotty problems I’ve been working on magically work themselves out. Amazing!

2. Knitting (and Crafts)

This activity may cost something for the yarn and needles, but often people will donate yarn they are not ever going to use. You can find ‘leftover’ bundles online or in thrift stores. These are great mixes for hats, mittens, afghans, socks, baby items – small projects. Online there are several places you can get yarn at a discount or wait until there is a yarn sale in a local outlet. Good quality economy yarns can be found at Walmart and Michaels. I was fortunate to grow up in an area with mill outlets where yarn is inexpensive. These outlets can still be found in Ontario. Not sure about other provinces.

I learned to knit when I was very young. My mother taught all of us, my two younger sisters and me. It wasn’t so much that I wanted the garments as I enjoyed the activity. Yes, I knit sweaters for myself and for gifts. It was fun to create. I actually used to knit and study. Knitting was my saviour when I was in the theatre. There were long periods of time in rehearsals when we were not needed yet you couldn’t go anywhere. I’d knit, keep an eye on what was happening, and be ready to move when called.

These days, I knit for my grandchildren, and sometimes their parents. I knit when my brain is too full and needs either calming down or sorting out. Knitting does that for me. It helps me be quiet when I’m restless – I can sit and knit while I watch TV. It makes that time productive.

Since I’ve been leading a knitting class, my creative side has expanded. I have found different ways to encourage people to knit. We’ve created afghans with our own designs, not designs found in pattern books. It’s been fun. This creativity is liberating and has led to being more creative in other areas of my life. As a group, we’ve created a fun place to be, much like the quilting bees. Our hour together always goes so fast. And, something of value is being created as the learning progresses – afghans for cancer patients.

3. Coloring

When was the last time you opened a coloring book and colored? I remember spending hours coloring when I was a kid. My favorite Christmas gift was a paint-by-number oil painting set. That painting would occupy me for the whole holiday. Then we grow up. While some of us get to color with our children or other people’s children, most of us leave coloring back in our childhood.

Finally the market has caught on that coloring is not just for children. A whole array of adult coloring books are available everywhere, some inexpensive, some more so. They are totally awesome. I have one myself. I take it when I’m traveling. It’s a great way to spend time on a plane or waiting in the airport – and what about those times when you sit and wait for appointments or treatments. Or even those nights when there really is nothing on TV yet you still want to do something. Coloring is fun.

On Friday, I had lunch with my grandchildren. The restaurant hostess gave out coloring placemats to my grandchildren. It looked like fun so I asked for one too. What a great time we had sharing our coloring adventures. It opened up a whole new world of conversation.

4. Walking

Walking is a wonderful activity, especially on a beautiful day. Put on a pair of running shoes or boots, coat, hat or whatever is appropriate for the weather and head out. The fresh air is exhilarating. It brings new energy into my body. As I move into a rhythm with my dog, Bear, beside me, I feel my body stretch and smooth out. There is something soothing and freeing when I walk. It’s being in tune with the world. I get a chance to notice what is around me. On my daily walk, it’s the mountains and the people walking in the park.

No matter where I am, I always manage to find an interesting place to walk. My body seems to need it. It started when I was a child as I recall always enjoying a walk. I’d walk downtown with my mother, make trips to the library, or go on hikes with friends. When I lived in England, I’d choose to walk if I had the time rather than take a bus to wherever I needed to go. I saw so much more walking and could enjoy little side trips, adventures along the way.

5. Dancing

Do you ever just turn on some music and dance your heart out as if no one is looking? I know I’m a dancer, but I often put on upbeat music, especially when cleaning time comes around. It is great motivation and makes cleaning fun. Just letting it all go is so liberating. All those stuck emotions bubble up and dance away. My heart feels the bubble of joy. When I add singing, it gets the breath going allowing energy to flow in and out. This type of dancing is different than going to a formal dance or exercise class. This is just about you and the music with no one to judge.

And, it’s free. All you need is music, some space, and yourself.

6. Cooking

Not all of us like to cook, but I do. I have since I was young. I’d look through cook books to find some new recipe to make. My mother, bless her heart, was very patient and indulged me, mess and all. In turn, when I had a family of four boys, I also let them have free reign in the kitchen. They were inventive and many new recipes and creative renditions of old recipes were created. When they got older, all of them were able to fend for themselves and cook for their families.

Nowadays, cooking for one, the joy of cooking for others has disappeared. With four hungry boys, they provided a great audience and ate everything in sight. These days, I batch cook soups or entertain when I can. On these occasions, I find myself humming and totally immersed in the joy of puttering around in the kitchen. It is so fulfilling. As I’m writing this article, it is serving as a reminder to me that I need to cook and entertain more often for the sheer joy of it.

Hopefully I’ve tweaked some interest for you to find what works for you. We don’t all like or have the talent or interest to do the same things. I’m sure, with exploration, you will find your toolbox of de-stressing activities that will benefit your health.

These activities are tools that allow our body to reset itself. We can reach the essence of ourselves in ways that are quite subtle, while we’re having fun. Our expression of self in these activities highlights our unique talents and skills. By finding and expressing our authentic self, we give our body/mind/spirit the opportunity to come together in wholeness and health.

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Activate Your Body’s Most Overlooked Anti-Cancer System By Jacquie Woodward

“It’s in the lymph nodes.” is threatening information to someone dealing with cancer. Yet, many people are unclear what a lymph node, or for that matter the lymphatic system, is designed to do. This important system pervades all body tissue with vessels parallel to the blood vessels.

Simply stated, the lymphatic system’s job is to pick up, filter (through nodes) and recycle the fluid washing between cells. It is also the only means for evacuating the blood protein molecules that become trapped in the fluid surrounding body cells. The lymph fluid carries these proteins through the filtering nodes along the way, and finally “dumps” both the fluid and “vetted” proteins into a vein under the left collarbone

Chronic inflammation increases the amounts of extra fluid and blood proteins in the space between body cells (which is meant to have minimal fluid) and thereby overworks the lymphatic system. If the fluid is not kept moving, a stagnant unhealthy state sets so that oxygen and nutrients are not delivered to cells and they can’t do their jobs. All of our energy, indeed every life process, generates at the cellular level. Cancer and other nasty diseases begin to develop in such inflammatory stagnation.

While several absolutely critical lifestyle elements such as diet, sleep, and stress management get much attention in anti-disease discussions, lymph system health is practically ignored. However, we can do several specific things to activate and support this very important system.

Here are five lymph-moving activities to consider:

Muscle Contraction:

The lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart that pumps our blood. Like blood veins, however, lymphatic vessels do have check valves to keep fluid moving in only one direction. However lymph fluid relies on both pressure differentiations and mechanical pumping means. We supply the latter as we live our lives.

Muscle contraction helps the fluid move–especially at the capillary and small vessel level. Muscle driven movement is essential and various forms of exercise help but cannot do the entire job and more physically active lifestyles serve our lymphatic systems better.

Bouncing on Mini-Trampoline:

Bouncing on a mini-trampoline is an excellent way to stimulate lymph fluid movement because it suspends the body “weightless” for short “bursts” that encourage the lymph fluid through the check valves. These trampoline devices are available in a wide price range and some have a handle bar for those who need steadying. People who are weak can sit on the larger bouncers while someone else gently bounces. I’m amazed at how this bouncing has helped me and I use a small inexpensive device. There are free online videos demonstrating this activity.

Deep Breathing:

Deep breathing is absolutely critical for moving lymph fluid especially through the larger ducts in the trunk and then depositing it into the blood. A big yawn, a cough, a sneeze, a belly laugh, singing with proper breath control all do it because of the deep breathing they evoke. Still, breathing exercises and good breathing habits are absolutely essential to avoid lymph back up, pressure on nodes and pockets of inflammation. Deep breathing is particularly important for anyone who has had surgery in their past.

A person with a sedentary job can do deep breathing exercises in place and one well tested “routine” is this:

1. Sitting up straight with chin up, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth with lips slightly parted.
2. Focus on filling your lungs fully from the “bottom” to “top”.
3. Breathe in through your nose steadily while counting to four.
4. Hold the breath to a count of seven.
5. Then, making a soft “whoosh” sound, breath out through your mouth to a count of eight.
6. Work up to repeating this in sets of four and do it hourly.

Well-designed studies have demonstrated that deep breathing effectively activates lymph fluid movement. Exercises that have a very deliberate breathing component like one I have adapted in my recovery from pancreatic cancer can be very helpful. It is similar to Tai Chi.

Low Voltage Devices:

Under care of physical therapists, sometimes battery-powered devices are used to emit a very low voltage intermittent impulse into the local tissue. The impulse is delivered through strategically placed electrodes adhered to the skin on either side of a site where pain is occurring. Pain signals a lack of oxygen that is often a result of inflammation blocking the removal of trapped blood proteins. This stimulation is meant to break up clumps of trapped plasma proteins to enable lymphatic capillaries to evacuate them. The capillaries often cannot absorb the large protein molecules clumped together.

Lymphatic Massage:

Some professional masseuses are trained and licensed in lymphatic massage. You can seek out such a specialist to perform therapeutic massage that is helpful in activating the lymphatic system. Doing so might be beneficial for someone who has spent time being very inactive due to hospitalization or illness.

Anyone can improve their state of health by being aware of their lymphatic system and doing some simple things to keep it moving it’s cleansing and balancing fluid through our bodies. Who wouldn’t want to minimize stagnation and do all they can to eliminate pockets of chronic inflammation that can become a tumor’s favorite environment?

Jacquie Woodward, a long time cancer survivor, is the author of the recently launched book, Slam the Door on Cancer and Lock It Out of Your Life. You may watch a video of Jacquie’s own exercise routine at or visit http://www.slamthedooroncancer.comto order a follow along DVD of her anti-cancer exercise routine, order her book in print or PDF, and read more encouraging blog posts.

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Delicious Crock Pot Vegan Recipes By Ms CiCi

One of the greatest kitchen appliances is the slow cooker. It allows busy individuals to make time saving recipes that taste great. It can be used to create delicious and healthy vegan recipes as well. The slow cooker is not just for meats and cheese dips, it can be used to turn out vegan recipes like nobody’s business. So, for all the vegans out there who have never considered using a slow cooker, it is time to reconsider. Following are some easy recipes to fit into the vegan lifestyle.

There are a ton of vegetable crock pot recipes that are suitable for vegans. These recipes do not have to be topped with cheese, cream or have meat tossed in to work in a slow cooker. Like this one for example:

Vegan Slow Cooker Stew


1 large – Potato
2 cups – Chopped Kale
1 large – Chopped Carrot
1 stalk – Chopped Celery
1 cup – Sliced Mushrooms
1 cup each – Frozen Yellow Corn and Sweet Green Peas
3 Cups – Vegetable Stock
To Taste – Salt and Pepper and Vegan Worcestershire Sauce


Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 6-8 on low.

Cheap crock pot recipes do not mean unhealthy or tasteless. Some people mistakenly believe that vegan recipes are not always healthy simply because they do not contain animal products. This is one of those easy crock pot recipes that some may think is unhealthy but is actually very healthy.

Vegan Crock Pot Chili


1 -2 cups – Chopped Onion
1 medium – Chopped Bell Pepper, green
1 can each – Pinto and Kidney Beans, with liquid
1 can – Diced Tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons – Spicy Chili Powder
1 – Diced Jalapeno
To Taste – Salt and Pepper


Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 6-8 on low.

For vegans, vegetable crock pot recipes are a given. However, they don’t have to be boring and monotonous. There are a number of different spices and such that can turn these cheap crock pot recipes into something special, such as this gem:

Vegan Slow Cooker Lasagna


1 large – Yellow Squash
1 large – Zucchini
Vegan Ricotta – 14 oz extra firm tofu blended with lemon juice, sugar, basil, salt and garlic powder to taste
3-4 cups – Organic Tomato Basil Sauce
1-2 cups – Vegan Pizza-Style Shredded Cheese


Slice squash and zucchini in thin lengthwise strips using a mandolin. Layer the crock pot with the vegetable “noodles,” vegan ricotta, sauce and cheese. Continue until all the ingredients are gone, making sure the last two layers are the sauce and cheese. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 6-8 on low.

These are just a few of the time saving recipes vegan can create in a slow cooker. People should always remember that cooking should be fun, easy and taste great, not to mention nutritious. Slow cooking recipes do just that. They afford the opportunity to turn out great vegan dishes without all the time spent in the kitchen.

Ms. CiCi is and has been a strong advocate for utilizing homeopathics and other natural products to achieve utmost results toward a healthy lifestyle. Ms. CiCi is an active adviser on the Trustee Board for Agape Essentials LLC. You are invited to visit Agape Esssentials website for some great money saving natural weight loss diet supplements that really do WORK! –

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Let Yourself Off the Hook – 3 Steps to Instant Stress Relief By Abigail Steidley

Self-pressure is my term for the mental expectations you have about yourself that differ from what you really need in this moment. It’s an instant stress-creator. Self-pressure can seem very subtle until you get used to noticing it. For example, I often decide I’m going to work out X number of days in a week, for X number of minutes. This is an arbitrary mental choice, not based on any of my body or soul’s actual needs.Automatically, I have set myself up to feel stress and pressure – from me.

When the time comes for my specified workout, if my body isn’t up for it, I immediately feel guilt, frustration, and stress. My mind goes into a little battle with itself:

Me: “Well, you said you’d work out x number of times. You’ll HAVE to do thistomorrow, now, and on the weekend.”

Other Me: “But I feel sick to my stomach. I really don’t think I can do this workout today.”

Me: “You should really be working out right now. That’s the plan. You are not sticking to it.”

Other Me: “But I really don’t feel well. I think I need to lie down.”

Me: “Failure is not an option! Oh no! This is terrible! You should be working out today!”

Other Me: “Blehhhhckkkk.” (Actually vomiting.)
Etc. That’s just one example. The conversation can be different each time, but the essence is the same – me getting frustrated with the me that is taking my body and soul’s needs into account, creating a sense of pressure.

Oddly, this is actually an improvement over the past, when I used to simply override and ignore my body and soul’s needs entirely. Yet, it’s not quite the sweet spot, where I actually listen to my body and soul needs each day and make my mental decisions based on those instead of the arbitrary mental expectations.

This sweet spot is a relaxed, health-enhancing zone. It’s where you listen to what your body and soul actually need in this moment and take action from that knowledge. I spend a lot of time in the sweet spot, but I’m certainly not perfect at it. So, I recently came up with a new concept to help myself remember how to get back to it.

Here’s how you enter the sweet spot:

1) Notice when you are feeling stress. Easy enough, right?

2) Look for any ways you are employing self-pressure. Remember, it can be subtle. Anytime your mind has made a decision based on arbitrary expectations, this self-pressure can arise. (For example, I noticed it last week, while writing a blog post. My mind had decided I must write blog posts on Mondays. My soul felt differently – it prefers Thursdays. The dissonance created self-pressure. I felt stress.)

3) Let yourself off the hook. This is a blissful moment where you recognize that your mind has made a decision based on arbitrary expectations and then release those expectations. Just because the magazines say it’s a good idea, the book you read last week recommends doing it this particular way, or mom told you to do it this way when you were ten does not mean it’s right for you, in this moment. But your mind may be hanging on to old information, random information, or simply deciding stuff on its own. Make this moment conscious by asking the question: “Where can I let myself off the hook?” What can you change/not do/do differently? Where can you let go of the expectation that is causing the stress? (For example, I quit writing the blog posts on Mondays, started writing them on Thursdays, and felt much freer.)

4) Enjoy. There is nothing quite like the feeling of relief when you actually see the silliness of these subtle and pervasive expectations. You might find yourself dancing with abandon, skipping joyfully, spontaneously smiling, or experiencing other such signs of soul-relief. Letting yourself off the hook gives you the chance to listen to what your body and soul really, truly need in this moment. Maybe it’s not a 45 minute weight-lifting workout. Maybe it’s a walk. Maybe it’s ten minutes of stretching. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s a swim. Whatever it is, it is exactly right for you. This is you honoring yourself.

To enjoy this experience, you’ll need to tap into what I call your Inner Nurturer. This is the mothering, nurturing voice within you that is often drowned out by the Inner Critic or the Arbitrary Decision Maker. Call up your Inner Nurturer and ask her to help you find ways you can let yourself off the hook. She’ll have ideas. She’ll speak softly, lovingly, and gently to you. She’ll be curious about your body’s needs, and she’ll want to know what your soul is saying right now. She’ll be open to new ideas and ways to honor yourself.

Don’t worry if your Inner Nurturer is a little shy. She might not have had a lot of room to speak in, say, the last thirty years or so. Maybe she’s been shoved aside by the Inner Critic and needs a little encouragement to speak up. You can conjure her by imagining how you would treat your own child in this moment, or your pet, niece, or student. Anything that brings out your mothering instincts will help you tap into this Inner Nurturer’s wisdom. Then, turn that feeling-state inward, toward yourself.

You might discover that your life changes in surprising and fabulous ways the more you let yourself off the hook. I once spent a few weeks letting myself off the hook around eating vegetables. I counted pickles as veggies and called it good. Talk about freeing! Then, when veggies stopped feeling like self-pressure, I found myself inspired to make new kinds of salads. I was able to enjoy them again. I’ve let myself off the hook in hundreds of little ways in the last several months. Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear the fun, funny, and surprising ways you’ve decided to let yourself off the hook, today!

Abigail Steidley is a Mind-Body Coach and mind-body-spirit healing expert. She works with clients throughout the US and Europe, teaching mind-body tools to create health and spiritual connection. She is the founder and owner of The Healthy Life, LLC and author of the audio course The Healthy Mind Toolbox: Essential Tools for Creating Your Healthy Life. Her current coaching practice also includes training mind-body coaches in the specific mind-body tools that help clients lose weight, de-stress, relieve pain, and create a deep, lasting connection between mind, body, and spirit. She works with and teaches a variety of healers, applying mind-body-spirit connection techniques, to help them stay healthy, sane, and productive in their own lives and enabling them to effectively serve others and prosper. She can be reached at

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Cancer: How Exceptional Patients Find Healing By Beng Im Teo

Power of the Mind

The main basic difference between medical science and holistic healing is the perception of what we are. The holistic view regards man as a trinity, made up of the body, mind and soul. Indeed, the body is only the physical case that houses the mind and soul. Medicine, however, is based on the philosophy proposed by Rene Descartes, a French mathematician and philosopher in the 17th century. He regarded man as a machine that obeys only the physical laws. The mind and soul play no roles in the body.

Given this conflicting view about man, it is therefore up to you to decide what you want to make out of yourself. You may believe that you are just a pile of chemicals, bones and flesh that has no mind and soul. Worry not, for like an old car, you can remove any worn-out parts of your body and replace them with some newer parts from somewhere, if you can. Hopefully by doing so, you can function better. BUT, can you?

I am reminded of an article in Newsweek (Special Issue 1999) about a man who had undergone a heart transplant. After everything is done, the man recovered very well. Modern technology had saved him. However, what surprised the cardiac surgeon was that the man with the new heart did not behave as he did before. He had the tendency to become suicidal.

From the holistic point of view, the mind is the root cause of problems. Carolyn Myss (in Creation of Health) says that cancer is created through excessive fear, guilt feelings, inability to cope with changes, self-hate and self-denial. Debbie Shapiro wrote (in The Bodymind Workbook): “Cancer appears to be the result of many years of inner conflict, guilt, hurt, grief, resentment, confusion or tension surrounding deeply personal issues. It is connected to feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy and self-rejection.”

According to Freud, the mind is an iceberg and only one-third floats above water. However, Avni Sali, a professor of surgery at the University of Melbourne, Australia, said: “But I’m sure that in cancer patients it’s probably 10%. Most of it is under water.” Paramahansa Yogonanda said that “there is an innate connection between the mind and the body. Whatever you hold in your mind will be produced in the physical body. … all diseases have their origins in the mind. The pains that affect the physical body are secondary diseases.”

The holistic healers view pain, sickness or the disease of the body as a signal that there is an imbalance within, perhaps due to conflicts of emotions and thoughts deep down within us, and is threatening our survival. This disease represents a wake-up call for us to do something in order to heal ourselves. However, few ever understood this message.

Contrary to medical views, body-mind healers have pointed out that:

1) The healing power of the body is within us. There is a physician within us and this power heals us absolutely.

2) Many of us are ignorant or are unaware of our own body’s healing potential.

3) Many of us block ourselves off from this potential, preferring to trust others whom we think can cure us rather than trust our own Infinite Intelligence within.

4) Many of us create unhealthy circumstances by thinking negatively and harbouring self-denying thoughts that eventually make us sick. We fail to recognise that these are the root causes of our many illnesses.

5) We are unaware that from the day we are born, we have been bombarded with negative suggestions. Negativity begets illness.

The seat of our real mind is the subconscious. Joseph Murphy (in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind) wrote that we view our world through thoughts in the subconscious mind. “Think good and good will follow, think evil, evil follows. Change your thought and you change your destiny.” Ralph Emerson said that “man is what he thinks all day long.”

From the above, we can conclude that the very first step in healing is for every cancer patient to recognise the influence of his own mind on his illness and recovery process. Many a time, we ask patients if they carry any emotional baggage or harbor any unresolved emotional conflicts within them. Invariably the answer would be: “No, no, I have no emotional problems at all.” They simply do not want to admit or discuss them, perhaps for fear that people know their secrets or they do not see the relevance or relationship between unresolved personal emotions and their cancers. After all, in schools we are taught that illness is caused by some kind of bug, virus or germ and it has nothing to do with the mind. Most patients would tell me that whatever problems they have are all old issues and have long been forgotten.

However, as we began to probe deeper, some of them just broke down and cry. So, my first advice to all cancer patients is to be honest with your own self, especially your subconscious mind. Think again, do you carry any baggage? Remember that you are not just a machine – devoid of mind or soul. You are sick because “something inside is eating you up.”

Let me suggest a list of some active steps that you can take to heal your mind, your soul and lastly, your body and its cancer.

1) Think positively: as you think, so you become!

According to Susan Bannerman, a clinical psychologist working with cancer patients (in As you think, so you become. Proc. 1st World Congress on Cancer, Sydney, 1999, pg. 199): “Illness is a reflection of a person’s negative perception and self-defeating ways of thinking. Hatred, envy, selfishness, jealousy, self-judgement, self-doubt, self-criticism, lack of self-respect, feeling of unworthiness, etc.” All these are negative and destructive thoughts. Do not harbour them for they do not help you at all. On the other hand, cultivate positive attitudes of love, joy, happiness, sharing, caring, self-esteem and self-confidence.

When you see a glass of carrot juice that is not filled up to the brim: how would you see it — as half full or half empty? Our perceptions of many situations can be either negative or positive. Learn to see things positively. Alex is a colon cancer patient. He told us: “I do not consider myself taking herbs. I just drink tea and it brings me a lot of good”. On the other hand, we have patients telling us: “Yuck! The tea tastes horrible!” Think for yourself, do you think you will benefit from drinking a ‘yucky’ drink?

What messages do you think the following remarks convey to you?

“Are your herbs hygienic?”

“You mean I to boil the herbs? I have no time to do so. It is so cumbersome!”

“The herbs are so bitter!”

“My doctor said this … My doctor said that …”

“I have this problem for such a long time already, my doctor said there is no more cure…”

You may want to tell us: “No, I can’t change. Take me for what I am.” We remember one young lady who had breast cancer. She hated her father very intensely. The sight and thought of her father worked her up so much so that she felt pains in the lump of her breast. We told her to go home and hug her father and love him. She was adamant at sticking to her “guns” saying: “No, I hate him.” We then told her: “The problem is this. It is you who have to suffer and perhaps die. It is not your father who suffers if you hate him.” Again here, patients have a choice, to embark on the healing journey rightly or to be left in misery. In our Centre, there is a quotation: “when you hate people, the only person who gets hurt is you, because most people you hate don’t know. And the rest of the world doesn’t care.”

To cultivate positive thinking is simple and easy. It is just like letting go of your baggage. Put it down! This requires no skill at all but you must have a loving heart. Do not insist on hanging onto your baggage. You have a choice. And again, our advice is: Let go!

2) Free yourself of negative thoughts.

Many negative thoughts are ingrained into our subconscious mind and they become a part of us. You and I have similar problems. And more often than not, we do not even know that these negative thoughts ever exist or are causing us all the problems. We are the product of our environment and the experiences of our lives. So to be able to free ourselves from these negative thoughts we must first and foremost be aware and recognise that these negative thoughts are in us. If we keep insisting that they are non-existent, then there is no reason for change or wanting to be free. If we admit that negative thoughts are our problems, the next step is to consciously correct them and replace them with positive thoughts. Keep on doing this correction like cultivating new habits. With time these good values stick in our mind. Always tell ourselves that we want to change and are capable of doing so. In time we will see that we do change. Remember, you need not be trapped in your past. Life is not living in the past, or the future. It is living in the present.

Beng Im

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What Are Your Thoughts About the Coming Year? By Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

Cancer is behind me, I feel confident, but for many, it is just starting and there are those who are in transition from treatment to recovery. Given your circumstance, how do you view the year ahead?

I’ve always felt that hope is eternal. Hope may not always be realistic, but miracles abound through hope. Our mind is a powerful force not to be taken lightly. It has the capacity to turn the tide on situations that at first seem dire and without hope.

Would I have said this when I was diagnosed back in the fall of 1990? No, but shortly afterwards I recall that I had budding hope within me. It became the foundation of my thought process to ensure that I healed my life to give myself the best chance for survival.

These are some of my ‘attitudes’ that have helped me move to health:

  • Staying at the Lodge across from the Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C., my cancer buddy and I would have many conversations. We were there together, as was our custom since we became roommates in the hospital where we had surgery. Our conversation was ‘We don’t belong here.’ I felt that cancer was just a stage in my life, not my life – or the end of my life.
  • When I researched the statistics on my type of cancer (Stage 3, triple negative breast cancer), I was determined to be in the percentage that survived. This type of cancer is very aggressive with the survival rate for the first three years much lower than other breast cancers.
  • Throughout my life, I have always set big goals and then followed them. More often than not, it was to see if I really could accomplish what I set out to do. Surprisingly and now understandably, I did accomplish my goals. It’s the mind. What you set out to do, you can do. The same thought process works for positive and negative. Be careful about what you think, it can come true.
  • There were side effects we were advised could happen. One in particular was dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, a condition that manifests after radiation. A medicine was prescribed by the nurse on duty at the Lodge. This medicine would alleviate the problem if we experienced it over the weekend when we were at home. I vowed emphatically that this definitely was not going to happen to me. And, it didn’t. It did for others.

These are just a few examples of how strong our mind is and how powerful our vision or images are in combating insurmountable odds.

The Year Ahead

I know for those going through treatment, the year ahead may seem uncertain. Unfortunately and realistically, life is always uncertain. We think we are in control of our lives, but not necessarily. We do have input for sure. One thing I recall understanding fairly early on was there would be many things in my life which I had absolutely no control over; one of these being when I would die. What I realized was the fact that I did have control over how I lived in each moment. I could choose to be happy, sad, hopeful, scared. I chose to look at life as full of opportunity and choice. I was determined to live life to the fullest every day – and that is still my motto. I will live fully until I die.

Do we all have this choice?

I would like to think we do. Some may not agree with me. There are always extenuating circumstances. However, I truly believe that we have much more influence over our lives than we even know. The Universe – God – however, you define the Higher Power is there for us. We have to be clear on what we need and then the magic happens. The other part of this is we are often given what we need, but not necessarily what we request. That’s the hard part. This concept has been tested by me repeatedly and it is real.

Last year at this time, I talked about doing a Vision Board. The one I have posted on the door to my office has been shredded by my cat. He’s definitely a mischief. The message – create a new one. And I will. Life evolves. What works for a long time suddenly seems to shift and new understandings take shape. We have to be open and flexible to change. Change is difficult and hard to accept. However, change is what makes life interesting and challenging. Change is the constant in life as much as we would like it otherwise.

What changes are you considering this coming year, if any? In your mind, what do you envision? Sometimes, these thoughts are buried deep in our subconscious and a tool such as the Vision Board is a fun way to bring them to the surface. For me, this past year it has been the writing process of my book. One morning I woke up and it was clear what had shifted. I’m still on purpose, but heading off in a little different track that will be more aligned with who I am and what I love to do. My purpose is still focused on helping others through the cancer journey.

What about you? What does 2016 look like for you? Where are you on the cancer journey? Is it new for you, still raw and fearful, or have you moved into recovery and feeling your way to what works for you. Maybe you are a few to more years beyond your cancer phase of life. Wherever you are on the continuum of this journey, what is working for you? Are there aspects of your life that are shifting? What would you change or challenge or even just accept with gratitude?

Traveling into 2016

As you consider these questions, know that I am also doing the same. It is my habit to re-evaluate situations from time to time, especially when it seems I’m pushing a rock uphill. It is usually a message that I’m on the wrong track and need to find the one that flows more smoothly.

As you journey into 2016, my thoughts and prayers are with you. We can do it together and share what we have learned along the way. My prayer is that you will find what gives you hope, purpose, joy, and fulfillment along with health.

Attention Editors and Publishers

Cancer Help Hub content may be republished with a link to the full article on Such republication must include attribution with a link to the Cancer Help Hub homepage as follows: source, and then the website.

The Life You Order by Judy Downing

Put four smart, accomplished women around a kitchen table once a month and what do you get?

If the women are Deborah Collins Stephens, Jackie Speier, Michealene Cristini Risley, and Jan Yanehiro, eventually you get a great book. is about surviving the unexpected challenges life hands you.

Between them, the authors have lived through six marriages, ten children, four stepchildren, two miscarriages, a failed adoption, widowhood, and foster parenthood. One was shot and left for dead. Two outlived their spouses. They have built businesses and lost businesses. They’ve experienced financial wealth beyond their expectations and near financial ruin. Through it all, they supported each other.

Sprinkled with quotes, stories and cartoons, ‘This Is Not the Life I Ordered’gives you “50 Ways to keep your head above water when life keeps dragging you down.”

Here are some of their strategies:

Convene a gathering of kitchen table friends.

Meet regularly with a small group of friends you trust and admire. Choose a comfortable meeting place with privacy. Have everyone answer these questions in turn:

  • So, how’s your life?
  • How can we help?
  • Who do we know who can help?
  • What are you happy about right now in your life?
  • What is there to laugh about?
  • When we leave here today, what three things are we committing to each other that we will do for ourselves?

Keep your meetings positive and hold them regularly. You’ll be amazed at what each of you will accomplish.

Be willing to make great mistakes.

People learn from their mistakes, often more than they do from their successes. Don’t go hiding your head in the sand when you make a mistake. Think like a scientist: it’s all trial and error. You’re going to get a lot of things wrong on your way to getting something important right.

Listen to your inner voice.

Call it female intuition if you want, women really are more intuitive than men. Stay connected to your emotions. Your “gut feel” can often guide you more successfully than any amount of supposedly logical self-talk. Keep yourself tuned to that small voice inside. Listen when it speaks, and act accordingly.

Recognize that chocolate melts in order to take a new form.

There may be times in your life when you have to reinvent yourself. People hit by Hurricane Katrina had their lives ripped away before their eyes. When something like that happens, it’s hard to know who to trust or what to do. Those are the times when it’s good to remember that chocolate can melt, but sooner or later it reforms into a new shape. That new shape can be stronger and better: it will certainly be just as tasty. Remember always to look forward to and rejoice in your next shape.

These are just a few examples of the words of wisdom in This Is Not the Life I Ordered. Get a copy from your local library, or buy it at your favorite bookstore. It’s a good book to have nearby when you are feeling down, or when you just want some great stories and advice to make you feel better.

Judy Downing is a small business coach, consultant, and freelance writer. She shares tips, techniques and strategies with small business owners to clarify and enhance their customer and business practices. Visit her website at or email her

Attention Editors and Publishers

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Thoughts on Donating to Cancer Charities and Research by Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

December is here bringing with it multiple phone calls and direct mailings requesting donations to various causes. This isn’t the only time of year for the donation request, but it is the most intense as individuals and companies close their books for the year with tax breaks in mind. How do you decide who merits your donation dollar?

In the cancer market segment, the request is divided between a) money for research and b) money for services delivered directly to cancer patients. I would hazard a guess that the majority of requests are for organizations doing research. Some of these organizations also have a proportion of the funds raised going to services or equipment. There are not as many organizations that channel the raised money directly to activities and services that directly impact the quality of life of the cancer patient – or even extend to their family and caregivers.

What do you want your donation to achieve?

If you are intent on finding a cure or better treatment for cancer, then research might be your choice. These are the larger organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Research Alliance etc and the appropriate organizations in your area.

If you feel that research is not doing enough or that healing will come from outside the medical model, then there are organizations that provide direct service to their members. These include organizations  such as Wellspring Calgary (note that I’m a co-founder), Wellspring Ontario, Breast Cancer Supportive Care, Children’s Wish Foundation, Kids Cancer Care, to name a few. Again, there are similar agencies in your area.

How much of the donation dollar goes towards administration?

I’ve always felt that a good benchmark for this question was to support those agencies where the overhead and administration costs were low in relation to the benefits for the member. However, I came across this interesting TED article and it has given me a new perspective. It talks about being aware of the effectiveness of the organization versus the dollar equation – what size are their dreams versus the cost of their overhead. What impact are they having on the world, their cause?

How to find the charity for you?

What cause speaks to you? What are you passionate about? Many people choose health agencies because of an illness or family history of a certain condition. Certainly in my case it is about cancer as not only have I had cancer, but my dad, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles have had cancer. The other side of the family have heart conditions and died of heart attacks or stroke.

If you have ‘x’ amount of money for charitable donations, then given your circumstance, it may be applicable to divide up the allowable donation to one, two or more charities or causes.

What if you don’t have the money?

This is a real issue for those who are on limited incomes. Right now, many people in the oil and gas industry and those industries that depend on them, are being laid off. Money is tight. Can $25.00 even make a dent in the cause if that is what you can give? I’d say yes. If we all gave $25.00, that would be a big amount. It’s the biblical parable of feeding the multitudes from a few fish.

If money is an issue, there is the gift of time – a much valued donation for any organization. So many non-profit organizations would not survive without their committed and passionate volunteers. This is one of the ways they keep overhead down to provide quality service to members. Volunteering is also a win-win situation for both the volunteer and the organization. For anyone who has given of their time, they will understand this statement. There is a huge sense of purpose and fulfillment in providing support and expertise to others in need.

If not time or money, what else can you do?

Many of us have more ‘stuff’ in our home than we will ever use. I’m aware of this as I’m in de-cluttering mode. Some of these items can be of use to organizations depending on their needs. For the items that are not needed, nowadays they can be sold online with the profits going to the organization of choice.

Do you undertake any research?

People spend a lot of time researching purchases they make – cars, homes, furniture, etc. How many of us actually take the time to research the organization to which we donate money? It’s good to know what each organization does, who runs the organization, their mission statement, their causes, services they deliver, etc. Maybe even take a tour to get a first-hand perspective. Talk to the people who use the service provided by the organization. What do they have to say? This will give you a feel and connection to the causes you care about.

Once you’ve done this, it will become apparent which organization is a good fit for your belief system, talents, available resources, etc. As mentioned above, not all organizations require your dollars. In fact, your talents and skills may be the most valuable asset to that organization.

Finally . . .

I know that cancer is top of mind for many who read this newsletter; however, in life, there are many causes that could use our help. We all need a hand now and again, even those who felt that being in need would never happen to them.

Life can turn on a dime. If you are the one in need, know that this is the reason people are there to help. When you are able, there is the option to give back and reach out to someone else in need. This is the motto I’ve followed as during my cancer treatment and recovery, I was the one in need. Now I am able to extend a hand to others until they are on their feet again. So can you.

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Cancer Help Hub content may be republished with a link to the full article on Such republication must include attribution with a link to the Cancer Help Hub homepage as follows: source, and then the website.

What We Don’t Appreciate Until We Lose It by Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

Life happens. Bad things happen to good people. Difficult situations appear without warning. And cancer, when it happens, creates many difficult situations. When these crises occur, we often experience a newfound appreciation for what was previously taken for granted.

What Am I Talking About?

1. Health

Health is taken for granted until it is gone. I’m not talking about the flu or a bad cold. These do pass and life is picked up from where we left off. Once we get past the recuperation from these illnesses, we can in time get back to our normal activities.

However, cancer is a different situation. Being diagnosed is infinitely more devastating than a cold or the flu. It has the capacity to stop you in your tracks. I know cancer did for me. All of a sudden, what I used to be able to do before cancer was no longer possible, at least not during the treatment phase. After treatment, I definitely had to re-evaluate how I lived my life because there were changes both physical and emotional that made a return to pre-cancer lifestyle a challenge. Never again have I taken my health for granted.

2. Ability to earn an income

When health disappears with the resultant restrictions, the ability to earn an income is most often affected. During cancer treatment, many people are not able to work. For some, there is short term disability available through work. Critical illness insurance is another option if a person has planned ahead. Unemployment insurance may also be available, but only for a limited time. In all cases, a full income is not coming in.

More than the loss of a full income is the sense of vulnerability when we lose control of our independence. That is how I felt when I couldn’t work during treatment. Even after treatment, I was still so fatigued that it took time to build myself up to the point where I could work. It meant part time work and living on a strict budget.

Options Become Limited

The above issues are not necessarily exclusive to a cancer diagnosis. Other conditions such as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), heart disease, Lyme disease, kidney dysfunctions, etc. are a few examples where health has been compromised which leads to limited options for income. Accidents are another situation when bodily damage occurs.

When the loss of health and the ability to earn an income happened to me, it was the fact that I had to rely on others or other sources of income to get by. There were points in life where I had been laid off and had no job, but with my health I was able to find something to keep me afloat financially. With no health, this wasn’t an option. It was scary.

Why Do We Take Health For Granted?

I often ask this question and have come up with the answer in my mind that most people feel it will never happen to them. That was my case. I never in a million years thought I’d get cancer. Heart disease was in my family, so I was doing the risk reduction for heart problems. Fear is another factor – just too scary to think about. It is human nature, I guess, to simply file away negative possibilities and focus on what is happening now. I get this. However, prevention and planning is always a good option – it’s just plain

What Can We Do?

Prevention and risk reduction can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.

1. Health – what can I do to maintain my health so that I don’t head in the direction of major illness? For me, this involves major self-care (exercise, nutrition, stress management, balance). These are the key elements required to live well. Even if we can’t outrun the unexpected, such as an accident, through the above elements, we can usually pull ourselves back to health at some acceptable level.

2. Ability to Earn An Income – how can I assure myself that if I did become unable to earn an income, how would I manage? What would I put in place to support me in these times? Besides investments, which can deteriorate, there are ways to generate residual income – income generated consistently based on previous work. It could be a skill that we can do on a part time or limited basis that will generate a decent income. We don’t all have these skills. In this case, financial planning with insurance coverage for eventualities.

In life, I have always found that it is best to look at these options before the crisis arises. Even in risk taking, I look at a situation, envision the worst that could happen, and if I can live with the worst case scenario, I move forward.

Right now, the economy is suffering in many industries. In Alberta, it is the oil and gas industry. Its impact will trickle down to other industries as the ripple moves out. It’s a time of learning to live on less, enjoy the simple things in life, and realize that how much ‘stuff’ you have does not define how happy you are. Stuff can actually be a burden. Finding what fulfills you is more rewarding than chasing dollars. I’m not saying that money is not important. We all have the requirement to satisfy our basic needs.

When I grew up, it was after WWII. The mentality of my parents was shaped by the war when supplies were limited. No one had excess. But I know my parents had fun. They enjoyed a wonderful circle of true friends who were there for each other throughout their lives. Even in hard times, they created a bond of appreciation for what was important in life – relationships.

Even if you have been diagnosed with cancer, there is still time to make shifts. It worked for me. My shift didn’t happen overnight. It was a process of digging down to find what was truly important in my life. To define my belief system and work to stay true to my authentic self. It is still a process in development. My advice to you is simply:

  • Spend time where you are being fulfilled. This will reduce stress and create happiness.
  • Figure out what is important in your life. It is a guide to who you truly are.
  • Regain your health and keep it by finding out what works for you.
  • Plan financially how to navigate the ‘down’ times.
  • Share with those you love the importance of prevention and risk reduction.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Attention Editors and Publishers

Cancer Help Hub content may be republished with a link to the full article on Such republication must include attribution with a link to the Cancer Help Hub homepage as follows: source, and then the website.

Great Gift Ideas for Cancer Patients by Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

What can you give to someone diagnosed with cancer that might be helpful, soothing, inspirational or just plain comforting? Cancer is unlike other situations thereby creating uncertainty about what to give that is appropriate.

Here are some ideas from cancer patients themselves.

Gifts of Time:

Fatigue and side effects from cancer treatment make everyday tasks a
challenge. This is especially true for those with children at home, someone living on their own, or seniors. It’s the little things that make a difference – your gift of time and caring with the understanding that their life right now can use some help.

  1. Get groceries – the physical act of buying groceries can be exhausting.
  2. Take children to their activities or babysit them for a day to give the cancer patient some quiet time.
  3. Prepare and deliver meals, for the cancer patient and/or the family. Set up a schedule with friends.
  4. An outing to restore some normal to life. An event, a drive in the country, or a lunch.
  5. Offer to drive them to doctor’s appointments and cancer treatments. This also provides companionship.
  6. Provide housecleaning – either yourself, organize a team, or provide through a service.
  7. Organize a ‘notice board’ to update family and friends and even family.
  8. Shovel snow, rake leaves, weed a garden, etc.
  9. At Christmas, timely right now, put up Christmas lights, do the Christmas shopping, wrap presents, bake cookies – create a Christmas spirit in a time of uncertainty.

Thoughtful Gift Ideas

The process of healing from cancer is a long journey filled with doctor’s appointments, cancer treatments, and recovery time. Much that was normal before the diagnosis is now in flux. Rethinking life is now a present challenge which requires some soul-searching. It also requires activities or items that provide comfort, reflection, inspiration, and joy.

These are a few that I particularly found helpful:

  1. Music – when I was tired and had no energy to read or do much of anything, I could listen to music. It soothed my soul.
  2. Books and Audio Books – there are so many inspirational books out now that provide comfort and inspiration for the days ahead and hope for health again.
  3. A Teddy Bear – my father-in-law brought me ‘Teddy’ when I was in the hospital. Never being a child who had stuffed toys, in this instance, Teddy immediately became my ‘Hug Buddy’. He reminded me of the love of my family and was a real presence to hug in quiet moments when I was overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear of what lay ahead.
  4. A hand crocheted afghan -my mother-in-law made one for me. I took it with me everywhere. When I wrapped myself in the afghan I could feel her love and comfort. It also kept me warm on the days when treatment caused me to feel so cold on the inside.

Other Ideas:

  1. Cards with notes of encouragement and care. They keep the lines of communication open to family and friends when energy for visits is marginal. Share normal things too – what is going on in your life, the world, funny things that give an opening for laughter.
  2. Videos – ones that are uplifting, humorous, educational. Choose according to their interests.
  3. Book a massage or spa day – a get away from it all day.
  4. A Journal and a lovely pen. Most cancer patients will be advised about the benefits of keeping a journal to unload and explore inner emotions and turmoil – or even to simply express gratitude for what they do have that is right in their world.
  5. An Adult Coloring Book – they are very popular right now. I have one myself.  You can get totally absorbed in minutes in the pure fun of coloring as we did when we were kids.
  6. Technology – if it’s in your budget. So many resources are available online now.
    • An iPad is a great tool for accessing this information anywhere, anytime.
    •  An eBook – paperbacks and hard cover books can be heavy and cumbersome. Fatigue makes arms weak and neuropathy, a side effect of treatment, creates tingling and weakness in the hands. Having something lightweight which can also be used in a dark room will be valued.
    • A Smartphone – an easy way to stay connected, reach out for help if needed, take pictures, keep a calendar updated, etc., It will make life so much easier.
  7. Head coverings – a hand knit hat, a special cloth hat designed for cancer patients, a beautiful scarf. All needed when chemotherapy causes hair loss.
  8. Jewellery – healing gemstone jewellery, or any jewellery that will add some ‘bling’ and fun, especially when they are feeling exposed and different with their hair loss.
  9. Organic Skincare – unscented products made without harmful chemicals will be so appreciated. Skin becomes dry and sensitive from treatments and stress. Plus who wants to add more chemicals to their body at this time, if ever.
  10. Pajamas and lounge wear – much of their time is spent in these types of clothes. Something comfortable, fun, and colorful will give some variety to this casual wardrobe. Think of wicking clothing, especially for women as they may be tipped into menopause early from chemotherapy.
  11. Socks, slippers and robes – wardrobe staples during this time.

Financial Gifts
Many cancer patients are not able to work through their treatment. This puts an extra financial burden on the family budget. Not everyone has coverage for a crisis such as cancer. For those that have these financial resources, providing financial aid to others going through the same journey is their way of giving back.

  1. Contribution to an organization that helps and provides services for cancer patients.
  2. Gift cards for general use. They can be applied to items that are so needed – a complementary therapy, vitamins, bills that need to be paid.
  3. Fundraising for a family in need or an individual in need. Not all standard treatment protocols are covered by insurance. In Canada, this also applies and varies by province. In the United States, healthcare is not universal so many will be paying out of pocket for treatments.

Hopefully some of these ideas listed above will spark an idea for you. Even though Christmas is now a few weeks away, cancer is always present and these ideas apply at any time. They also apply at any time during a cancer patient’s recovery. This can be anywhere from several months to years depending on the cancer diagnosis, the treatment, and any lingering side effects or physical changes.

Ideas for gifts above are mostly for the cancer patient, but it is worth noting that cancer affects a family. They are also experiencing cancer in their own way. Children are especially impacted and can use some extra attention that distracted parents may not be able to provide during this time.

Regardless, the fact that you have reached out is a kind and caring step that interestingly enough is not often taken. Cancer patients have felt distancing from both family and friends at a time when they need them the most. Be there for them. It will make a huge difference.

Attention Editors and Publishers

Cancer Help Hub content may be republished with a link to the full article on Such republication must include attribution with a link to the Cancer Help Hub homepage as follows: source, and then the website.