When I was diagnosed with cancer, I made some choices about how I was going to look at things:
1. I wasn't going to ever capitalize it, not even at the beginning of a sentence. I did not want to give it any level of importance.
2. I wasn't going to look at it as a "fight" or a "war." There is an expression "what you resist, persists," so I did not want to feel like I was resisting something, or fighting it off. It was just going to be something I was going to have a relationship with.
3. I really didn't want to do chemo, but given a combination of factors, I didn't really feel like I had much of a choice and, in fact, at the time it seemed liked the best one. Because of that I had to put aside my reservations about it and I also decided that I was going to refrain from looking at it in any way that was negative. I went as far as to call chemo an "ally" and a friend that was seeking to help me.
4. I didn't want to do too much research online, as I did not want to scare myself with statistics, and others' facts. At the same time, I had to balance a willing ignorance of the possibilities with being responsible to myself as a patient.
5. I was determined to use any available things that could possibly help: Acupuncture, Reflexology, Massage, Reiki, working with a Naturopath, and Hypnosis. I made a 2 recordings for myself, and listened to them, and other files while I was undergoing treatment. Nothing of any perceived value was going to be off the table, as long as I could afford it, or make it work.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, the only clue I had of what to expect were the things I had heard about over time, which really was just on the fringe of anyone's experience. The topic of cancer was scary to me. I had thought at one point of working with those with cancer, but was in some part afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. I felt that those affected by cancer couldn't be spoken to the way one might speak to a person who wasn't diagnosed. These weren't things that were necessarily conscious. But there was a big discomfort I had around the topic.
Nature is funny about things like this, though. When you are in some way scared of something, it has a way of bringing you face-to-face with it in a way that you have no choice but to face it head on.
So why do I tell you these things? I tell you because despite all of these things, my life still was a form of hell for several months. The toll on me mentally and spiritually and emotionally was at times overwhelming. You only need to visit my blog to see and hear what I went through. Some told me how painful it was to read. So many times people wanted to help, and wound up pissing me off instead or frustrating me.
Have you ever noticed that about our culture? We tend to want to FIX things all of the time. And if we can't fix them, we tend to have an array of emotions and/or walk away from the thing we can't understand or can't control. I had a friend tell me she couldn't talk to me because she felt "helpless." I told her if she wanted to feel helpful, she should talk to me. But she still didn't.
Many times people who deal with cancer have a myriad of losses they have to deal with physically, and the loss of a friend or family member who can't show up can devastate even more. Someone told me today she often hears people saying, "What did I do?" when a person won't talk to them. I experienced it several times, and I did the best I could to identify it and communicate with the people, only to find silence at the other end. I found myself ignored on many occasions.
And it really is a form of hell. An illness is prohibiting you from being yourself most of the time, and when you want to be yourself, there will be people around you are dealing with their own issues, and don't know how to support you. Odds are you might even feel mixed about what you should want, or what you do need, and be at the effect of what is happening to you not only directly but by having to deal with what those around you are dealing with as well.
Those who care for those with cancer go through their own forms of hell, too. I know of people who had no way to take care of themselves when dealing with those who were sick. People all the time would tell them to do things for themselves, but they felt they couldn't.
There are a lot of "helpful" suggestions from the professionals and friends and family alike, but often the suggestions only serve to frustrate the person dealing with the situation. Sometimes people just want to talk; they don't want to be fixed. And, even worse, sometimes there just is no fix.
There was a big gap for me in treatment. I would go and get treated. I would go and get the services, but then I had to go back to my life and figure out how the heck I was going to deal with it. There were times I just slept. There were many times I was just numb. There were times I felt desperate. Times I was sad. Times I cried. Times I was terrified. Even the idea of surviving scared me. Where were the repercussions of the months of treatment going to leave me? I didn't feel like there was anyone I could talk to that knew what I was going through. People told me to join a support group, but that just didn't feel like a "right" option for me, especially when there were times I could barely get out of bed.
Now that I have had the experience I have had, I feel like I am in the right position to fill that gap - for others. I have looked around, and I don't see anything like what I am creating. I want to take my experience and use it to be able to hear you. I want to be able to listen to you talk. Maybe I can offer you nothing other than an understanding ear at times, or some comfort. Other times you might want to have me help you with what I know about hypnosis.
I used hypnosis during treatment, and it was one of the best things that I ever did for myself. I would get chemo sometimes for almost four hours, but I wouldn't care because I would be so deeply relaxed in trance. The nurses would always laugh at me because I was so out of it. I wouldn't even move. When my session of chemo was over, often my blood pressure would be lower than when I started. From what I came to understand, that is uncommon. It is usually higher.
Did hypnosis help? I couldn't say for sure. We would need two identical mes having the same experience two different ways to tell for certain. But what I do know is that I liked the way it made me feel and that, coupled with the other things I was doing, I have to believe made a positive difference. I had the theory that nothing could hurt, only help. Sometimes people would ask me if I was OK if they prayed for me. My response was always open: All good energy is always welcome.
My experience was my experience. And your experience is your experience. We may have similarities, and there may be differences in how we look at things, and what we are open to. I can, and will, always respect that. I have a history of respecting where people are. I am a great believer in how perspective can empower or disempower someone. For instance, I am not empowered by the term "Survivor." You, on the other hand, may feel otherwise. If that works for you, and you work with me, that works for me, too, and I would not try to convince you to see things my way. If I do anything, I look for the things that you believe in that empower you and I work with you to supercharge them so they can help you more.
Does what I say resonate for you? Do you think you could use some help? If so, I am going to suggest we talk. Everything I do is personalized, and it will be much easier for you to get a sense of what I can offer once we talk. I am only recently out of treatment myself, so this is a new program that I am developing, and I am thinking it may vary from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. I want to get to know how best to help you get through what you are going through.
What do you think? I promise I won't bite. Call me at the number below or email me to schedule a time to talk. You can call me any time. Even late. I may not pick up, but if I am awake and alert enough to be able to talk to you, I will.
If you identify with anything I have said, and/or think I can help. . .CALL.
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email: jolope at relatingtocancer.com