Have you ever wondered how we can become so disempowered as patients?

I guess it all depends on how we view our role in the healing relationship, doesn’t it?. Are we doing the healing and engaging others to help us? Or do we want someone else to fix us, abdicating our responsibility in the whole process?

When I was in the throws of cancer I went looking for an oncologist that was open to an integrative approach. Traditional, alternate, complementary, trial or cutting edge, I needed a doctor who was willing to explore them all, without bias. And I kept looking until I found one. Persistence has its rewards doesn’t it?! When I questioned him about using vitamins during chemo he responded by saying he felt they were a necessity. When I asked about radical approaches, he listened with an open mind. ‘We can only learn when we explore new ideas’ he said. And yet I’ve heard other horror stories of doctors who refuse to let their patients combine therapies despite research showing better outcomes. But surely it’s our decision. After all, whose body is this anyway?

Isn’t it interesting how we learn to label things right and wrong, black and white, good and bad. And yet we could always find someone to sit on either side of the fence. When something is right for one person, it may be wrong for someone else. It’s really all a matter of perspective isn’t it?! I remember the advice Petrea King (Quest for Life) gave me. In her wisdom she suggested I put every healing option on the table, make nothing wrong, and choose the ones that gave me the greatest peace. Her words carried me well and stopped the war and uncertainty within me. And I sense this could only have aided my healing.

And so I used copious quantities of vitamins, herbs, biofeedback, chiropractic care, physiotherapy, subconscious-mind therapy and kinesiology in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I can’t deny it was full on, but, all in all, I had a great year. I studied, I worked, I mothered, I travelled and I smiled. Sure there were darker days, but I built a buffer around me and it seemed to make my path that much easier to travel.

And I delighted in listening to psychiatrist, Professor Graham Martin’s interview on ABC radio national: Taking charge: mind, body and recovery. After sudden paralysis in 2009, the doctor became the patient and discovered how we must all take charge of our own recovery, doing whatever we need to do to heal. It’s empowering stuff!

United we stand, divided we fall – surely the experience of cancer is not the time for a war between healing modalities…

 http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/taking-charge-mind-body-and-recovery/2928194

Sherry’s blog is spot on. I couldn’t agree with her more! Many people don’t realise stress is like the clothes we wear. We get so use to it we don’t feel it anymore. It seems that many women suffer a massive emotional stress before the onset of breast cancer, I know I did and so did many women I know of. Divorce, the loss of a child, the loss of a home are huge emotional losses. And then the stress of life just seems to bring on the inevitable.

The latest science is showing us that when we are chronically stressed our immune system gets shut down, which seems to actually allow the cancer to develop. My husband always says ‘cancer is something we’ve lost’, not something we’ve gained, because in cancer we lose our ability to get rid of cancer cells as they develop. This for most people, and at different times in our own lives, is a normal body process. Isn’t it empowering to view cancer from this perspective. That we can actually play a part in protecting our ability to deal with rogue cells. I was so lucky to have Steve involved in my recovery because he was able to measure the stress in my body and then help me to reduce it using biofeedback and adjustment techniques. There’s a bunch of about 50 neurologically based chiros like him in the US, Canada, Britain, Europe, South Africa and Australia who help people to recover from cancer in the same way. There’s also a great book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky that’s an easy read for those who like the science. The 2008 National Geographic documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer focuses on Robert Sapolsky’s work – it’s eye opening.

Thanks for your blog Sherry and for going out on a limb. I love the poem.