I was lucky enough to spend the day with my friend Peter yesterday. And I was privileged to watch the magic unfold in his calmbirth® class as he helps pregnant couples to let go of their fear and anxiety around birth. It’s simply breathtaking. To birth without fear, and in complete confidence that our bodies know what to do. Working with our inner wisdom, not against it. And the hospitals have noticed what a difference it makes. So much so, that across the country they are now asking Peter to run their birth classes.  And I am so inspired by Peter’s work. Because the gift of entering the world in calmness and love is beyond measure, even when medical intervention is required.

And birth can be many things, can’t it. Peter talks about The Law of Possibilities. Because we all know birth can be excruciatingly painful. But I wonder how many people realise that for some women it can be orgasmic? And of course, it can be everything in between. And it’s the same with cancer, isn’t it. For some people the diagnosis of cancer is their worst nightmare, while for others it presents an opportunity. A life changing experience that opens new doors, new possibilities, and the potential for a completely new start in life. And the chemo itself? I know of people who have been violently ill, encouraged by their families to feel as sick as possible because this is what they believed was needed to ensure the chemo was working. While others have described having chemo as feeling just a bit like having a mild hangover or even being ‘pleasantly surprised’. Mindset plays such a huge role, doesn’t it. As I began to understand how my own mindset, my subconscious fears, beliefs and expectations, affected my experience, each cycle of chemo became a bit of an adventure. What would I create for myself this time? I found it just got better and better.

Yesterday when I got home, I was thrilled to see an email from J—. I hadn’t heard from her in some months . And I always wonder how people are getting on. Diagnosed young as I was, a double mastectomy, chemo and all the rest with two small children in tow. The last time we spoke she was just preparing for it all. And we talked about the things she could do to help herself. To build her buffer. And here today, she is in a different space now. It’s all done and I feel her joy. Because J— discovered there are many things she could do to help herself. And that within her she had the strength to get through. And it makes me smile to think of her strength and zest for life – she tells me she was riding her bike just 5 days after her last cycle of chemo, thinking of me in the snow as I was just one week after mine. 

The Law of Possibilities. Without fear and with an open mind the possibilities are endless, aren’t they…

Surreal. That’s how it felt the day I found out I had cancer. And even though it was expected, a sort of dreamlike state seemed to envelop me as my doctor uttered those dreaded words. I guess that’s what shock feels like. Detached. Not quite real. I was stoic as I left, but collapsed into despair in the car. My husband, Steve, wanted to scream. I remember we drove to see a friend, who calmed me down a little with his words and his confidence that I would heal. I remember sitting in the park watching my children play, thinking it’s not every day you get diagnosed with cancer. I remember taking my kids out for dinner that night and looking around at the other families, thinking to myself, they have no idea of what’s just happened. Nothing seemed real.

And as the minutes turned into hours and the hours into days, I found the fear and indecision took hold. What best to do? Everyone had a different opinion. Would I live or would I die? Would I survive the treatment let alone the cancer? I felt lost. And there were those days that it all became too much, and I’d scream or cry inconsolably at the injustice of it all and the thought of having my breast cut off. I was fortunate at those times to have my friends who would calm me with their words. Helping me to find some inner peace amidst the chaos and pain through their impromptu relaxations. I wasn’t good at meditating. Too hard to calm myself with all the stress inside my head. I was so grateful they were there to guide me, to carry me when I needed it most.

After I had healed I thanked them for the love they had shown in my darkest times. ‘Pay it forward’ said Peter. And so this is so much a part of what I do. Sharing with others the tools that helped me.

And their words of comfort? I bottled them so to speak. Today I recorded a guided relaxation to help people cope with the distress of diagnosis. Any diagnosis. Any difficult news really. Just as I was helped. And I’ve called it A Safe Place.

Because there’s no where to hide when you get the diagnosis, is there? There isn’t much on offer when you hear that news? You’re kind of left to your own devices, leaving the doctor’s office in a sort of daze. And there is no going back.  No turning back of time. The only path is forward. And it can be difficult to know what to do.

And I feel good about this relaxation. Knowing the path, it’s my way of helping people through the madness that seems to descend with those dreaded words. Anywhere, anytime feelings of overwhelm set in. To help counteract those feelings of being disconnected as people seem to talk at you. And you’re not really there. Not quite taking it all in. Not quite sure what to do.

It is my hope that in time the hospitals will embrace this CD. Offer it in the chemo suites to calm and relax people while the chemo is going in. And in calming people it may even help to reduce the side effects. A big call I know, but I know the value of this work. I’m fortunate to have lived it first-hand. Because I know that even when the pain is great, you can always find a safe place within yourself. A place of peace and calm which can give you the strength to get through. A place where you can feel safe as you leave the world and it’s worries behind…