There were many times within the past twelve years when chemo wasn’t working, when my insides were screaming for relief and I wondered what the answer was. When you face a chronic illness, at first presentation, we may think that the path to healing is in a straight line. I have illness A and we treat that with medicine B. The shortest distance between two points is not always that straight line. In the last twelve years I have learned that healing is not linear.
The best way for me to describe it, is to liken it to a Ferris Wheel. At the start of the ride, you are at the bottom, with your doctor, and you discuss the plan of action. For me it was surgery, chemo and radiation. You then ride the wheel up and around a few times, just taking everything in, not knowing where you are going and not caring as the doctor is in control. At some point, without notice, you come to a stop at the top. There is no explanation, you just stop and stay there for some time. You look around, take in the sights, and then begin to wonder when the ride will move again. At this point, when you are wondering what is going on and how much longer you will be there, you notice that the sky looks different, the view is not quite the same and neither are you.
When we think of illness and healing, often we just think of the medicine that will cure the illness, but what about the parts of you that change forever? Beyond the physical aspect of healing your body, whether it be thru traditional medicine, naturopathic practices or both, the mental healing that must come is of the utmost importance. When I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I was waiting to be seen by the plastic surgeon before my surgery. As I sat there, alone, terrified, and thinking I was keeping my cool, the woman sitting next to me asked “What are you in for?” I stated that I was having a partial mastectomy. She leaned over, put her hand on my hand, looked at me and said “99% of this will be your mental fight.” I immediately teared up as they called my name to be seen and she wished me luck. I never saw that woman again, but her words have stayed with me and I think of her as a Guardian Angel of sorts.
99% of this will be your mental fight. She was so right, yet at no point in the last twelve years has a doctor spoken to me about the emotional and mental aspect of fighting this disease. At one point, early on in my treatment, I did mention to my oncologist that I felt like I as in a deep, dark hole. The oncologist mentioned something about depression, offered more medication and then recommended a support group. You have issue A, here is medication B and we all follow the straight line. I wasn’t looking for more medication, I was looking for guidance on how to put one foot in front of the other and how to regain some semblance of a “normal” life.
I wasn’t interested in the support group, it just didn’t seem to be the thing for me. I did, however, see a posting for a free yoga class and that seemed like something that I wanted to explore. I learned two things at that yoga class: yoga was not my cup of tea at that time, and that there were other avenues I could explore in addition to traditional medicine to heal my body and my mind. I met a lovely woman who opened my eyes to the world of raw food and healing through food. On the way home from yoga class I stopped at a book store and bought my first raw food book. I was intrigued and empowered by the idea that I could have more control over my healing journey. I was inspired to get into pilates, literally using a DVD for twenty minutes a day. I felt myself slowly, but surely coming up out of that deep, dark hole.
It was a shift in focus. I was no longer staring at point B, while holding onto to point A and the straight line. I began to see that there were multiple avenues and options that could all work together to heal my body and my mind. My healing journey began to look more like a wheel, with me at the center and multiple lines radiating out toward the ultimate goal of health, healing and wellness. As my journey has progressed over the last twelve years, more and more spokes have been added to this wheel; some dropped off as they no longer served me. This is an ongoing process, one that I work on daily. The physical and mental aspects of healing are multidimensional and change constantly. We are ever-growing beings, always learning and striving to be better. The more that I learn, the more options I can create for myself along this path to health and wellness.
“The path isn’t a straight line, it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things that you thought you understood and see deeper and deeper truths.” unknown
All my love to you my Fabulous Fighters,