Friday, December 23, 2011

Don't Read This If You Have Cancer

If you have thoughts, opinions, or personal experience you want to share please post a comment. This needs to be a community dialogue.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, a number of things happen immediately on an emotional side like fear, doubt, confusion, anger, shame, guilt, and disbelief. Sometimes these emotions are followed by an invigorating and strong sense of hope and a winning/fighting attitude. Sometimes these emotions can also be so overwhelming they seem to bury you. Either way, I have often heard it described as “my life became chaotic in an instant”.

It is now immediately up to friends and family to support this person strongly and significantly. What do you say and what do you do? What should you not do? Of course the answers here are situational and depend totally on what the unique person diagnosed needs, but here are some things from my professional experience I want to list out:

1. Lots of hugs. Even if you never did this before, it’s not at all too late to show love, connect, and care. If this is easy – great! If this is difficult, practice until it’s easy!

2. Support the person’s decision on the course of their treatment and completely disregard your own opinion. If they opt for conventional (Western) treatment, good choice. If they are interested in alternative treatments and/or natural methods of healing that complement or take the place of conventional treatment, good choice. BUT – I’m going to discuss this below in a little more detail.

3. DO NOT start giving the person an abundance of books, articles, websites, supplement info, etc UNLESS they ask for it. I learned this one day when, in my attempt to help, I handed someone a book. They took me to their house and showed me long pile along the living room wall of over 50 books that well-meaning friends and neighbors had given them. “How on earth am I going to read all of these or decide what is worth my time or not???” I learned a lot from this.

4. YOU need to have and maintain a strong, winning, can-do attitude no matter what, especially if the person diagnosed either doesn’t have this, or needs it during their treatment/recovery. YOU have it so strong it’s enough for both of you, regardless of what the “expected” outcome is. I like to say that only the spirits know what will happen in the end, and as long as someone is breathing there IS hope.

5. Step in and help with family, house chores, driving, errands, etc. Don’t ask what is needed (the usual answer is “nothing, I’m fine”) – put yourself there and say “I’m here to go to the grocery store for you. Is there anything special you need or can I get you some staples (like bread, milk, toilet paper….)” “I cooked this meal and brought it for your family.” “I have 2 hours on Tuesday and will be here to help get some laundry/yardwork/dishes done.”

6. Laugh together. Find ways to do this – jokes, movies, stories. If you’re not sure, ask someone else for an idea or for their favorite belly laughing movie. I love “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. When the jeep goes up in the tree I’m crying on the floor every time!

Thoughts on Treatment Choices
When it comes to actual treatments, there are so many different things that work. I don’t believe, however, that there is just 1 thing for everyone. It’s so individual and the person receiving the treatment has to connect with it. Because of this, it’s important to support their decisions about their own treatment and help to find valid information from a variety of sources IF they ask or want more information.

How do you know if it a treatment is valid? That’s a huge and very debatable question. Here is my opinion: I believe that our body has a natural intelligence and that under ALL circumstances our body works for us, not against us to the best of its ability. Because of this natural intelligence there are things that we will feel or respond to, even if we have no logical or rational explanation for them. There is a Native American practice that completely embraces this belief: Have a healing circle, invite all of the friends, family, and a variety of doctors and healers. Have each healer and doctor tell what they have to offer, and how it will benefit the person. Have all friends and family share their opinions. Lastly, have the diagnosed person share what they want out of what was presented. Then follow through on that. (See: Narrative Medicine, 2007, by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D.)

With the above information, it is sometimes very beneficial to have or find a natural-minded healer that has the knowledge and experience, and is open to embracing other methods of healing. Don’t know where to find this? Start asking people around you and somehow the person you need to find will appear.

Research on Spontaneous Healing
Now, on another note, there was a fascinating study done recently (2010 by Kelly A. Turner, PhD) about people who have experienced “spontaneous” or unexplained remission of cancer. Here’s a link to the study if you want to read it, but I’ll summarize some highlights here.

The following are attitudes and beliefs that stood out as commonalities among both the healers and healees. I think this is extremely important information to look and find ways to cultivate in both ourselves AND the diagnosed person. You might have to take the lead here, or in some cases step back and get out of the way so the person can do their thing and heal!

I’m copying some of this information from an article called “When Cancer Disappears: The Curious Phenomenon of “Unexpected Remission”, promoted by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). I believe they published this information so that people can move it forward, and that is my intention here so I hope permission is granted to share.

Belief #1: Change the conditions under which the cancer thrives.

The most successful recoveries seem to be strongly associated with major mental, emotional, or physical behavioral changes among the people with the illness. These can be drastically different for each person, but all involve change.

Belief #2: Illness = Blockage/Slowness; Health = Movement

This refers to a sense of blockage, or hindered flow, anywhere in the body-mind-spirit. This may be a physical blockage, such as chronic constipation, a mental blockage like an emotion that is stuck, or a spiritual blockage, such as having lost (or not found) a meaning and purpose in life.

Belief #3: A Body-Mind-Spirit Interaction Exists, and Energy Permeates All Three Levels

Most people live in their physical bodies only, and must discover their Mind-Spirit selves, connecting all three.

More important commonalities:

Changing One’s Diet

The majority of sources agree that a basic, good, predominantly raw, vegan diet along with fresh fruit & vegetable juices and various supplements is necessary.

Experiencing a Deepening of Spirituality

Many in the study described feeling love, feeling energy infused with love, feeling something incredible like God, your soul, your true essence.

Feeling Love/Joy/Happiness

Sometimes this is experienced during energy healing. You allow the feeling of pure love and joy fill every cell of your being and flow through your entire body.

Releasing Repressed Emotions

Many in the study also had profound experiences by looking at and releasing emotions such as fear, anger, and grief. How do you do this? First, just want to. Then act on the opportunities that arise from this desire.

Taking Herbs or Vitamins

Many people in the study considered this very important, and the variety taken was very individualized. There is no one answer for everyone, but there will be a good choice for each person.

Using Intuition to Help Make Treatment Decisions

This is going back to my point above about listening to the natural intelligence of your body and going with what FEELS right for you. It may also be that a healer intuitively recommends something that strongly feels right.

Taking Control of Health Decisions

The diagnosed person is in charge of their decisions and their will is to be honored and followed.

Having a Strong Will to Live

Yes! You need to support a winning attitude! No doctor has the right to place a time limit on a person. Besides, if they tell you, it’s usually an “average” that excludes the high end of the scale – and this end includes a very long, happy and healthy life.

Receiving Social Support

That’s us! Friends and family that care, support groups that understand and listen, just knowing you have lots of connections around you that believe in you and love you is necessary.

In conclusion, I think that people are wonderful, and if we have the chance to care and support our friends or family through a major illness, there is some kind of amazing beauty we will all experience that shows us in no uncertain terms how incredible this life is. I am extremely interested in your comments on this topic – thank you!

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