Not Letting Fear Get In The Way

The rock cairn I built near my meditation spot.

The rock cairn I built near my meditation spot.

I’ve been struggling lately.  Caught up in the fear.  The fear of my cancer being back and the fear that this inspires in everyone around me.

I am finding it really hard not to allow other people’s fears to invade my thoughts and take root in my body.  Especially as I choose to treat my body the natural holistic way and “just say no to drugs!” – The idea of that scares people.  Makes them uncomfortable.

But I am realizing that it’s not about them and what makes them uncomfortable.  It’s about me.  My life.  My decisions.  And yes, it is scary sometimes… Going out on a limb…  Doing things differently…   Refusing the usual standard of care…  But maybe all the encounters with fear and doubt from others is just a test.  How strong is my faith?  My belief?  Am I willing to honor my truth?  Trust my intuition?

I realize now that my appointment with oncologist #1 was a test of my faith.  My wall was not fortified enough when I saw her.  And her fear and guilt and negativity managed to seep in through the bricks.  I do not think it’s a coincidence that it was only a week or two after that appointment that the pains started up in my body.

Last week I reached out to my mom, the heavens, & the Universe for guidance.  And since then, a number of perfectly placed healing paths have presented themselves to me.

First is my new-found love of running!  Something I never thought I was capable of (I was the girl who couldn’t run around the field in elementary school without getting cramps).  But lately, I’ve been running the streets, the trails, and the parks with ease.  And the beautiful part is that when I’m running the daily pain I feel miraculously disappears.  I become entirely focused in the moment.  The ‘runners high’ takes over and life feels good.  So I keep doing it.  And am now setting a goal for myself to run a 5K in the next year.  Take that cancer!

Another thing that sustains me is my Exceptional Cancer Patients support group with Bernie Siegel.  I had my third group this week and was so inspired, touched, and boosted up by the energy of everyone there.  We’re different ages with different cancers, different treatment plans, and different stories but we all share a common outlook of hope and possibility.  

At the end of group Bernie always does a guided meditation.  This week he had us envision our current self and our “ideal” self taking a trip together.  Where are we going?  What is our ideal self like?  Well, me and my ideal self (Lola) were going to Venice…  Getting lost in the alleys, eating delicious food, drinking wine, and laughing out loud.  When I asked Lola what I needed to do to be more like her she said “Have fun!”.  At the end Bernie asked us to merge our two selves and the tears were streaming down my face.  When I opened my eyes the other facilitator leaned over and told me “Just find your joy honey!  Do things that bring you joy!”  It was as if she read my mind.  That group is amazing.  

Then to top off my week, I managed to find the most amazing acupuncturist.  My naturopath prescribed acupuncture for my pain and after going to two sessions this week (including a 2 1/2 hour long intake) it is definitely working.  I am beyond thrilled at the new insights, the reassurance, support, and oh yeah – the pain relief.

My acupuncturist practices holistic Asian Kosho Shorei Ryu style medicine including Yin/Yang or “Eight Principle” medicine and Five-Elemental Constitutional Medicine which looks deeply at how the workings of the mind & emotions contribute to holistic wellness or illness.  His intake included a 2 page “Personal Vitality Assessment Form” asking about the disharmony between mind, body, & spirit.  The questions were brilliant and thought provoking.  And in our sessions he schools me on the meridians of the body and their mental and spiritual connections.  It’s fascinating!  And I will definitely blog more about it in the future.

I’m just so thrilled to find someone who truly recognizes the necessity of addressing the mental piece of disease.  The further I go into this journey the more I’m convinced that the spiritual and mental piece is one of the most important for true healing.

So I keep doing the work…

Regular meditation, including signing up for a 2 day retreat in December, and looking for a sangha to practice with…   Finding a new therapist (I’ve been to 2 sessions already – And today we did an amazing exercise using EMDR to connect with my inner child that had me in tears)…  I’m also re-doing my vision board (and promise to post a pic when it’s done)…  Working through Lissa Rankin’s amazing and thought provoking “prescription for health” from her book Mind Over Medicine…  And even trying to squeeze in a 15-day writing to heal challenge with Michelle Pammenter Young (a fellow breast cancer warrior in British Columbia).

Although I still feel like so much of my life is about cancer these days, at least when I focus on nourishing my soul and spirit I don’t feel the resentment that usually crops up when I focus strictly on my physical self.

One of the questions on my acupuncture intake that I loved was, “What advice would you give yourself to help you become as holistically healthy & well as you want to become?  And based on your advice, what commitment are you making for the next day?  Week?  Month?  Year?”  I don’t remember my advice exactly, but I do remember the commitment I made for the next year…

  • Run a 5K race
  • Travel somewhere new & far away
  • Send out query letters to agents & publishers for the memoir I’m writing
  • Heal myself of cancer and all dis-ease

Maybe it’s time we all thought about what life we want to be living, who our “ideal” self is, and how we go about getting there.  I still believe anything is possible!

Much love,  – T

My meditation spot by the ocean.

My meditation spot by the ocean.

On my morning run through the local State Park and the bird sanctuary.

On my morning run through the local State Park and the bird sanctuary.

14 Responses

  1. Beautiful post, beautiful person. Your mother’s spirit is with you always in all of this, of that I feel absolutely certain. And how wonderful that you have uncovered a talent for and enjoyment of running! Parts of my life seem like a bit of a water-colour rendering of yours at the moment: a sedate walk through the woods in place of your run, for example, but with its own joys — the other day I came across a deer on the path, about ten feet in front of me — and it didn’t leap or run away, just kept a walking pace that kept about ten feet between me and it. When the path through the woods came out on the road, it actually let me pass it within inches, before turning in the other direction from me and ambling down the road to where it re-enters the woods. We parted, I feel sure, with mutual feelings of well-wishing for each other. Much love to you and your whole family, um abraço for Heron, and a fish-lips kiss for Marisa. — John

  2. I agree you must do what’s best for you. It may not be the route I would take, but it is your decision.

    Wow, you are in the ECAP group with Bernie? That must be amazing. He wrote the foreword for my book; have met him once. Wonderful guy! Tell him I said hi.

    • I remember Bernie’s forward in your book Tami. He is such an amazing guy. I’ll tell him you say hello at the next group. Good luck on your new book! I’m thrilled about the book contract. And I’m loving the pics you’ve shared on facebook of the writing space you’re creating. Can’t wait read the finished product. Hugs.

  3. It is honey, it is…
    And I so look forward to creating/celebrating/embracing all the joy we will create together tomorrow! My heart is so FULL with anticipation for our sleep over!!! Thank you my love…

  4. T- you know yourself/body better than anyone. Do the things that make you happy in life and with your treatments. The power of positive thinking can do wonders! Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the book has some great insights in this. Keep doing what you are doing!! My positive thoughts and energy are with you!


  5. Running over distance is meditation. It’s you pumped up with endorphins, shadowboxing with rage against the machine.

    Turns out that anger is rocket fuel. It wakes me up and propels me past the point of endurance most days. It’s the best friend I’ve ever had. It never gives up. Never leaves me alone with my thoughts. Running gives me a place to burn it off before it turns inward, or worse, out toward the people who love me but who are powerless to help me.

    Some days running is the only sane choice you can make. It’s church.

  6. Y’know, your runs take the route across my consciousness several times every day. I see you running in joy, and the joy coursing like fire through your body; everywhere it meets cancer cells it burns them to cinders.
    I imagine I see you and Miss M. at the beach. The wind is quartering along the beach, not straight onshore, and it caught her beach ball and flung it along the waterline. You have run far and fast and caught it, and you’re returning with it, laughing. You and she are laughing together, but you’re also laughing with yourself, because you COULD run far and fast enough to catch it, which is one joy; and because you WON the race against wind and ball, which is another. And because you and Miss M. and Heron and Grandpa (who are watching) are having such a great time, and even because maybe if it weren’t for the cancer you wouldn’t have TAKEN this time, or been able to run that far and that fast. Victories!
    And later I see you remembering the afternoon, and realizing that at no time were you afraid, but sometimes you were angry, because you’re too busy LIVING to have to spend all that time and energy seeking healing – implicit though that is in your commitments to your loved ones. You’re too busy LIVING to have time to die!

  7. Hi T
    I have been reading a couple of your blogs and I think that you are one of the most courageous and determined people that I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. I wasn’t as brave as you when I found out that I had breast cancer and I chose to go the chemo and radiation route. I have shared your page with the amazing group of women that I had my chemo sessions with. We call ourselves the Bosom Buddies and we get together around once a month to catch up with each other. Your trip to Europe sounds absolutely wonderful. I am sure that it’s going to be incredibly healing and transforming. Sending you much love, strength and abundant health as you continue on your journey. Laurene

    • Thanks Laurene! Let me say that I also did chemo and surgery when I was initially diagnosed. At the time I just trusted the system and assumed that was the way to go. It was only when I started reading & researching more that I changed my mind. But it’s definitely been a long and winding road. And there are many days when I question my decisions. Ultimately you gotta do what’s right for you. Sending you & your Bosom Buddies lots of strength and joy on your own journeys! – T

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