A new diagnosis of cancer is devastating.

The first responses range from dispair, grief, anger, and confusion to depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Family members won’t always have the right words, or know how to express their feelings beyond, “I’m sorry…” which seems so inadequate at times like these.

These feelings are natural and should be expressed and shared. One of the first things my mother taught me when she received her diagnosis of breast cancer was to honor your own experiences first, and to make a lot of space for your heart before letting others opinions and judgments filter through. 

Connect with your core strength

Finding this strong center within yourself – following your heart and choosing your own path on this part of the journey are vital to maintaining your deeper sense of self, of making peace with yourself and with the world, and connecting with that inner wisdom that guides and strengthens you through the journey.

my-beautiful-mother
My mother, Peggy Elk, fearlessly shaved her head before starting chemotherapy

I know this is what my mother was doing when she was first grappling with her diagnosis at age 50. She told me about it over the phone. As soon as I got off the phone and shared the news with my dear friend and mentor, Christina, she said “pack your bags” and she drove through the night from Colorado to Utah to deliver me to my mom, dropped me off, and said: “call me when you are ready to go back.”

I shared some tears and some stories with my mom – but mostly I felt a distance from her in those first days. Luckily, we’ve always had a mutual trust, on a deep level, of each other. I trusted she was determined to figure this one out for herself. I can only hope my quiet presence offered some support or reassurance.

Weave a new web: the life-line of cancer networks

Being diagnosed with cancer does not automatically mean a long, painful course of chemo and radiation, losing your hair, and multiple surgeries. It can mean a renewed sense of purpose, rearranging your priorities, and making new friends. But don’t take my word for it – reach out and start connecting. There are literally thousands of “survivors” groups in the US alone; online forums like BreastCancer.org; new treatment options being discovered every day; and there ARE things that you can do to proactively increase your chances of survival and improve your quality of life with cancer.

Read “Breast Cancer? Breast Health!” by Susun Weed

breast-cancer-breast-health-susun-weedI’m not getting paid to say that…it really is the most loving, gentle, scientific, honest, and thoroughly researched book on breast cancer I have seen to date. Susun Weed applies her “Wise Woman” methods to breast cancer exploring ALL the options from a very objective and compassionate place:

“When the diagnosis is cancer, there are voices from outside and voices from within telling you to make immediate decisions. Please don’t. The advice of the women who shared their breast cancer stories with me, and the advice of many professionals as well, is: You have time….

Give Yourself the gift of time. Set a date in the future when you will take action. (A month is reasonable unless you have a rare fast-growing breast cancer.) Don’t consent to treatment…until then. Use the time to…Do nothing. Collect information. Engage the energy. Nourish and tonify. Love yourself. You deserve it.” (p 141)

Other resources:

  • The Gerson Institute offers holistic and alternative treatment options for cancer
  • Follow the Cancer Treatment Centers of America blog
  • Read Stories of Hope on the American Cancer Society‘s website
  • Empower yourself by exploring alternative therapies – don’t be afraid to ask your oncologist the tough questions and to say “no” or “I’m not ready”
  • Face your fears, write them down, paint them, dance them, sing them, share them, embrace them and set them free.
  • Be realistic – modern science does have a good deal to offer cancer patients, be ready and willing to explore these options with your oncologist. Read this article from Science Based Medicine, and add it to your store of growing information.
  • Follow your heart, it is never wrong. Trust your instincts.

 

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