Updated: Oct 4
I always knew my cancer was more than treating my physical symptoms. It came to teach and heal me emotionally. We cannot turn over all our power to physicians. In order to fully heal, we must take responsibility for our own wellness.
Our emotions reside in our cells and tissues. Thoughts and feelings impact our health. My body could no longer hold onto emotional pain and the childhood pattern of turning against myself. It had carried the burden too long.
For me, emotional issues were the core of my cancer.
Carl Simonton M.D., the author of Getting Well Again discusses the "cancer personality." How one reacts to emotional factors and stressors can contribute to the onset and progress of cancer -- where as positive expectations, self love and acceptance can lead to survival.
According to Dr. Simonton, the seeds of cancer originate in early childhood with "basic rejection."
"When we don't get the love we need as children due to our parents having their own conflicts and turmoil and being physically, spiritually, and emotionally unable to give it, the cells are deprived of their basic nurturing. Later on in life, in times of distress, this lack may cause our cells to run amok." Surviving Cancer: A Natural Approach to Healing and Prevention. By Susan Moss.
And while what I am about to write feels deeply personal, I share it not to blame, but to help others understand my story and heal theirs. We have to forgive our past and ourselves.
I spent the first 10 years of my life with an alcoholic parent until my parents divorced. I may have been the only kid at that time who was happy their parents split up. My father's anger reverberated though our household. We walked on eggs. As a young child, I was left to fend alone an often frightening whirlwind of inner emotions I didn't understand.
Although my father tried his best to help me intellectualize my emotional issues, his own childhood wounding & emotional damage left him unable to parent from a nurturing place. He didn't have the instincts to truly love. To add, I was deeply sensitive and smart (reading at 2.5 years old) and his expectations were unrealistic for a child. I was once told I wasn't loved because I accidentally spilled milk at the table.
From a very young age, I turned that anger and disapproval inward and learned to hate and shame myself. And although my father was a responsible provider, and I do have good memories with him, it was the bad ones that imprinted during those early formative years.
My mother was distracted by her tumultuous marriage and intimidation/fear by my father's outbursts. Her inability to protect me from his anger, caused resentment towards her that lashed out in my teenage years ( at the time, I didn't know why). I've read that breast cancer patients often have difficult relationships with their mothers. Although my mother and I are very close, we still had healing to do this year.
A New Baby Brother-Yuck
When I was 4, my brother was born. I was jealous and angry. No longer the big cheese. It was all too common for me to pinch him, pull his hair, or take his toys. Not nice. But I carried anger that I didn't know how to manage as a preschooler. And it wasn't all about my new baby brother. For this, I was constantly scolded by my parents, which compounded my guilt.
If I was always being yelled at, there must have been something wrong with me. I was "bad" and undeserving of love. And I just couldn't fully shake it, even well into my adulthood.
I am learning to nurture myself better now (and yes, my brother has forgiven me. It took me up until recently to forgive ME).
Although I had good grades, fantastic friends, loving relatives, and wonderful opportunities while growing up, I lived in disconnection from myself.
My tumultuous relationship with my father ebbed and flowed throughout my adult life. I admired his decision to quit drinking shortly after my parents divorced. He was in a high-profile position and set an example for others to do the same. Yet, many of his same hurtful personality traits continued even without alcohol. I tried to forgive and maintain a relationship but it was too much hurt and disappointment. He wasn't going to change.
His response to my cancer was the final blow. I walked away and inwardly said goodbye. My healing and emotional-well being was the only priority.
We can learn to forgive people from a far. And to do so, we often need God's grace.
Me Vs Me
I had unlimited empathy, kindness and nurturing care for others but could be unforgiving and merciless to myself. I often lived with inner battles- anger, resentment, and unnecessary/irrational guilt. I respected and carried myself well. Stood up for myself and others. Creative. Funny. Accomplished.
Outwardly it looked like I had it altogether.
But I didn't feel true love or peace within myself. Didn't know how. And it felt like I was carrying a ton of bricks. If I wasn't battling something on the outside, I battled inwardly. As I became older, I learned to further detach by throwing myself into work and perfectionism, almost to the point of exhaustion.
Clearly, my coping mechanisms were not working. In my 20's, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease-when the immune system turns against itself and attacks the thyroid.
My body was responding to my emotions. Battling itself.
The time bomb was ticking.
Breast Cancer and the Emotions
Louise Hay was a renowned author, founder of the Hay House and cancer survivor. She healed her vaginal cancer without surgery, chemo or radiation. She speaks of healing herself by letting go of long stored abuse and emotional turmoil.
Our bodies are energy fields divided into seven chakras. When there are energy stresses and blockages, disease can form. In her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, Caroline Myss writes extensively on this subject.
The breast/chest area is the 4th chakra and is associated with love, compassion and forgiveness. Breast cancer is often caused by a block of energy to this area.
In Louise Hay's book, Heal Your Body, she associates breast problems with putting everyone else first. A refusal to nourish the self. Her healing affirmation: "I am important. I count. I now care and nourish myself with love and joy. I allow others the freedom to be who they are. We are all safe and free.
This may sound strange, but I am grateful to my cancer. I just couldn't continue living that way. As difficult and scary as it was, it offered me the gift to heal myself and inspire others to do the same. I will be eternally grateful for those who gave me the means and space to do so. I feel like a lighter person.
Healing is a lifelong journey. But I have found my way. I am loving and respecting my body by feeding it well and giving it what it needs to thrive. I am no longer disconnected to its physical needs.
I am still healing emotionally. Had I not opened up to the beginning of releasing emotional pain and started the healing process of forgiveness (most importantly to self), I believe I would be in a very different place today.
I healed from stage 3 cancer quickly (5 months). Miraculous for sure. I love this quote by Louise Hay: When people change, the new personality does not need the old disease.
I'll be writing much on emotional healing, as I believe it is integral to truly healing from cancer. To begin: acupuncture and reiki which opened blocked energy channels, ignited emotional release and invited Divine intervention.