Cancer: How I Discovered My Path From Panic to Peace
We all fear it. The C word. And then on June 1, 2015 when I was 35 years old the C word happened to me: aggressive breast cancer. Then it began... the chaotic, confusing, panic-filled storm of decision-making. How do we make these decisions? What’s the best way to discover the path we're meant to take? I want to share the ideas that have worked for me and what I’ve learned along the way. I feel that our society in general and most doctors individually do not give us the tools to confidently make quick, life-altering decisions when we are drowning in fear.
I courageously looked fear in the face.
I respectively looked my doctors in the face.
I lovingly looked my family and friends in the face.
And I made the decision to have a mastectomy just three weeks after being given the diagnosis. Then five weeks later I made the decision to decline chemotherapy and radiation. And just 3 weeks after that I made the decision to step onto a plane bound for Germany to receive alternative cancer treatment. After making each of these three life-altering decisions, I discovered that I was flooded with incredible peace. Between those decisions, there was a lot of really hard work. The research-based book “Radical Remission: The Nine Key Factors That Can Make a Real Difference” by Kelly A. Turner, Ph.D. gave me a rough road map for my journey.
How did I do it? How did I figure out how to make these huge decisions and know they were the right ones for me?
First, I utilized my background in Women’s Health Education. I read study after study about effectiveness rates of various treatment options, risks of permanent side-effects, and all of the prognosis statistics. I made pro/con lists and drew out the statistics about me with stick-figures of me. I talked to women about their previous breast cancer treatment choices. I read books and websites and anything rational that I could get my hands on. The skills that my mind employed during all of this still amazes me.
Second and at the same time, I engaged my heart or soul or intuition or gut instinct or God or whatever you want to call it. I did visualizations of receiving chemotherapy. I lived an entire 24-hour day as though I had decided to choose chemo and then I lived an entire 24-hour day as though I had chosen alternative treatments. I prayed; I sang; I cried; and I talked and I talked and I talked to process my thoughts and emotions. I discovered how to get my thinking-mind out of the way so that I could find the wisdom that my body-mind already had. I incorporated mindfulness practices into my day so that the tears would not consume me.
In addition, I utilized my community to the max. Words have power, right? I let them know the language I wanted them to use around me... Life-giving! Love-celebrating! Light-bringing! From the very first night, I did not identify with the war language surrounding cancer: I'm not battling it or fighting it; I'm not a warrior or a survivor; Cancer is not my enemy. I don't say, "I have cancer" or “my cancer” but that "I was given a diagnosis of cancer.” It’s simply a part of this big, juicy life-journey that I am on. (PS - This is also evidence-based: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12832949). The language I used with my doctors was also important. I discovered and communicated with them that my morbidity (my quality of life) is more important to me than my mortality (my length of life). When I was 21, I watched as one medical intervention after another prolonged my older sister’s DEATH for over a year instead of extending her LIFE. I did not want the same to happen to me.
"Each of my decisions were based not on running away from fear and death, but walking toward love and life."
So after reading as much information as I could and discovering from my body/heart/soul what would be the best choice, I made my decisions and was in awe each time of the wonderful feeling of peace that followed them. Each of my decisions were based not on running away from fear and death, but walking toward love and life. I wish that more of us could be shown by example and then discover for ourselves how to take that mind-clearing, heart-focusing deep breath after we land in the midst of a chaotic storm of panic, whether it’s a serious car accident, a divorce, a spouse or child’s death, a natural disaster, or other scenarios. The books I've read and the people I've met during the last year have taught me how to walk toward life. I'm deeply grateful for the tools they shared with me so that I can live life after a cancer diagnosis in a relatively happy and peaceful state instead of a relatively panicked and fearful state. Amazing!
Colleen Flowers was given the diagnosis of aggressive Stage 2 breast cancer on June 1, 2015 at the age of 35. She's trained as a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner and does her best to walk the talk. Please explore this site for resources, information, and ideas you may not have been presented with before now. If you like what you see, then subscribe to her newsletter and consider talking with her. Want to stop making decisions based on running away from fear and death, and base them on walking toward love and life? Book a Consult and Buy a Package for individualized coaching support.