What follows is excerpted from an article I wrote in October, 1999, just months after my diagnosis…
I was diagnosed in December of ’98 with uterine cancer. Since then, my life has revolved around “The C-word”, and all its related c-words: challenge, commitment, courage, choice, and compassion. The diagnosis was a shock, on the one hand, and at the same time had a strange sort of “Oh, ok, here we are at this chapter – time to play it out so I can get on with what it is I’m really here to do” feeling.
Having been a healing arts practitioner for a couple of decades, having cancer myself was one of the most humbling, growth-filled, difficult and glorious experiences I have ever gone through….one I would not care to go through again, thank-you, but also one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am forever changed, and for that I am forever grateful.
For six months after my diagnosis, I chose to utilize a combination of non-allopathic, holistic healing approaches. (By allopathic, I mean traditional western medicine – chemo, radiation, pharmaceutical drugs or, as was recommended in my case, surgery.) I combined the following:
– I used my own imagery/meditation skills and received hands-on healing and incredible love and support from many others.
– I further refined my already-healthy eating habits, adhering to a very personally-tailored macrobiotic diet.
– I complemented this with vitamins, herbs and other supplements recommended for my specific needs. I also did detox regimens.
– I delved deeply into old, hard-to-admit emotional issues – you know the kind where you feel like, “Haven’t I already dealt with this one?” – hard, humbling work, but deeply healing and rewarding.
– I traveled to Germany and Mexico for bioresonance therapy, a powerful biophysical approach to healing imbalances in the bodymind system. Fascinating stuff!
– I continued to exercise regularly and enjoy various avenues of creative expression.
– And through it all I prayed, meditated, and continued to deepen my spiritual practice, greatly strengthening my already very firm spiritual foundation.
I also continued with a very demanding work/performance/family schedule, learning gradually – ok, thick-headedly – how to slow down. This was indeed humbling, given that I spend a lot of time teaching others how to do that!
I went through the confusion, the fear, the realization that no one “out there” had The Answer. Everyone said something different, usually contradictory. I felt the paralysis of indecision. Which way to go? On whose set of “facts” and statistics should I base my decisions? Who could I trust? Eventually I found the best approach was to gather relevant information, ask good questions, do my best to educate myself, then quiet my ping-ponging rational mind enough to look/listen inside for the answers that were right for me.
Everyone’s situation is different. In my case, I ultimately did choose as a piece of my healing puzzle. (Another opportunity for growth, learning, and surrender!) My doctor was wonderful. He was supportive, if not fully educated about or comfortable with some of my “alternative” approaches. There were many times when the barrage of pressure from the allopathic community to make quick and irreversible decisions called for a great deal of inner strength and courage. But it was clear throughout that my doctor and I respected each other’s point of view. Because he was impressed with the very proactive position I took in my healing process, he ultimately acted on my resolve to not have any part of my body removed that was not absolutely necessary! He stuck his professional neck out and agreed to do a partial vaginal hysterectomy, as opposed to the standard treatment, which would have been a full hysterectomy, complete with an abdominal incision and removal of both ovaries. For this, I give him a great deal of credit and gratitude. (He later told me my case had been the topic of a roundtable discussion at a national conference on alternative cancer care. Nice to feel I’ve played a small part in building some much-needed bridges between various treatment modalities!)
I prepared myself physically for the operation with a combination of specific herbs, vitamins and other natural supplements, bioresonance therapy, diet and exercise. I also prepared myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The decision to have surgery was one of the toughest I’ve ever had to make. But once I committed to it, I actually found a place of great peace. Hence, I went into the hospital feeling extremely positive and even grateful.
During the surgery itself, because of my professional training in relaxation, imagery and related techniques, I was able to do without general anesthesia or narcotic pain-killers that dull the senses, so I was very “present”. Preceded by prayer and accompanied by harp music, the procedure itself was clinically fascinating and spiritually indescribable. Recovery from surgery, also assisted by the above-mentioned therapies, was quick, with amazingly little discomfort.
Now, 4 months post-surgery at the time of this writing, the cancer is gone, but the learning and the healing continue. I believe that cancer, like any physical dis-ease, is merely a symptom. There are always many levels of healing to address. And the related issues don’t magically go away just because the symptom is removed. I feel it’s essential for me to continue ferreting out root causes – from environmental toxins and long-standing physical imbalances to “cancerous thoughts” and unhealthy behavior patterns. I continue to make spiritual practice, relationships with friends and family, and creative expression priorities in my life. I also continue to augment my primarily macro diet with other nutrition-rich foods and selected supplements. I exercise, I meditate regularly, I laugh, I sing, I cry. Basically, I’m now really living the balanced life I advocate! As Richard Bach says in his wonderful book, Illusions, “You teach best what you most need to learn”. How true. And I’m a darn good teacher!
Throughout my healing process I’ve faced many levels of challenges, sometimes with more grace than others. I’ve learned even more about how important it is for me to have full creative Self-expression – to not be afraid to really be out there saying “This is me! This is what I believe.” I’ve learned the depth of commitment, the courage it takes to chart my own course, to stick with the choice to truly heal on all levels, even when it seems way too hard. And perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned much more about transcending judgement to reach depths of compassion and love I’d never imagined possible. (Interestingly enough, about a year ago I had asked, deeply, to learn these very lessons.)
But then, isn’t this what we’re all really here to learn? I celebrate the growth and healing available to us all.
NANCY HOPPS , healing and performing artist, is the author of two best-selling relaxation titles, on CD and cassette: RELAXATION/AFFIRMATION TECHNIQUES and RELAX-QUICK!
Written For Healthshop.com, OCTOBER 1999.