According to the Washington Post, every day in the United States approximately 4,600 people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. 1 The most common initial reaction to those three dreaded words “you have cancer” is shock, fear and disbelief, which are followed by an intuitive sense that life as we’ve known them are forever changed. If you have “been there” yourself or know someone who has been impacted by cancer you know there’s some truth to it. You also know that today, more then any other time in history we have the means and tools to help patients survive and thrive.
Feelings Upon Diagnosis
Once diagnosed, most patients describe feeling disoriented. The pace of change and the life threatening nature of this illness often bring about anger, anxiety, fear, and depression, which take time to process. It’s hard to admit that despite of so many medical and technological advancements, and the fact that more and more patients do survive treatment, Cancer is still associated with a death sentence.
I’m not going to pretend things are perfect in any way, I do however want you to know even during this trying times you can learn how to cope with and successfully overcome all of these experiences. You can journey from feeling like a victim, to feeling and being a victor.
One successful strategy to taking control is to keep your gaze on the big picture. Yes, there is another tomorrow and the sun will rise again. This will help you place the information disseminated by your Medical team in the right context. Everything may sound very urgent, and it may very well be, but you have a voice and it’s the most important one. If you feel rushed, slow things down.
You may feel like your body has betrayed you and therefore you cannot trust yourself anymore, but you are so much more then just your body, you are a whole person with a rich life experience to draw from. As you learn about treatment options, conventional and alternative, and start to put together a treatment plan that is right for you it will be easier to adjust since you know what your next steps are. 2
In most cases, progression of illness is slow which means you have time. You have time to address not only your body but also yourself, the person within this body. Doing so will help you feel acknowledged, witnessed, heard and more in control.
If you read any of my previous blog posts you know that I view illness through a multidimensional lens. My belief is that illness must be addressed not only on the level of the body or physical symptoms but also on the level of the mind.
Imagine a boxer that eats well, lifts weights to gain muscle, and performs cardio to increase endurance. But leading up to the fight he keeps thinking there’s no way he can win. On the day of the fight he is unable to focus on the end result he wants to achieve, he gets hit and will likely lose because he has not realized this match requires mental and emotional endurance as much as physical one. Remember this quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
Mental & Spiritual Wellness
The one takeaway I want you to remember today is that while your medical team is doing everything in their power to mend your body, it is up to you to tend to and mend your mind. Talk to your medical team about integrating complementary medicine into your cancer care, especially hypnotherapy. Why hypnotherapy? Well, hypnotherapy engages the part of your mind called the Subconscious Mind. This part of your mind harbors your beliefs and perceptions (responsible for stress, fear, helplessness). It’s also the part of your mind that governs many of your bodily functions like immune function for example.
Working in the realm of the Subconscious Mind to change the quality of your perceptions (of treatment/procedures) from negative and harmful to positive and supporting can have a transformative effect on your experience. Any medical provider will agree that getting into treatment in the right frame of mind can improve outcome. Furthermore, resolving the mental patterns inhibiting immune functions can allow your immune system to be restored to its full capacity thus make your body more resilient.
I will leave you with this final analogy for the need to treat illness on all of its dimensions:
Think of a person as a musical instrument. Say for example, someone hands you a beautiful guitar made of exquisite wood polished to a warm glow. You start to strum it, but it sounds horrible! So you use a pitch pipe to tune each and every string in order to get the best sound. You take the extra effort to get each string tuned to the correct note and once you start to play again the guitar produces the melodic sound you want. Now it is harmonious and balanced. Translate that into recovery and healing and it becomes clear these goals they can only be achieved when we address every single dimension. Then you can feel like you are in charge of your own destiny and can begin the journey toward a positive outcome.
If you have questions on where to go next or what hypnosis can do for your recovery, please contact me today. I’m happy to help.