January 26, 2014

The Power of the Mind

I have been reading a book called "Cancer: 50 essential things to do" by Greg Anderson (a lung cancer survivor from the 1980s!).  It talks about "integrated cancer care",which means in addition to conventional medical treatment, we need to also take care of our mind, body and soul. It reinforces what we believe in; that is, the importance of exercise, nutrition, emotional support and spirituality.  Exercise, check. Nutrition, almost there (meeting with a nutritionist this coming week). This past week, I have been working on emotional support and spirituality.

Mom and big brother came down. I was looking forward to mom's home cooking eversince she mentioned she wanted to come down. I was not disappointed. My stomach didn't necessarily agree with this new found party of flavours in my mouth but I didn't care.  Big brother N was also great company.  I realized how calming some personalities are versus how anxious other personalities made me feel. S also enjoyed the break from cooking and cleaning, and the great food and company as well.  It was a peaceful week.  But they left too soon :(. Not that we desperately need help around the house but the right kind of visitors can provide peacefulness, welcome distractions and good emotional support, often without even realizing it. 

Also this past week, we met the life coach and the lung cancer therapist, both of whom we connected with. Our life coach has been through cancer herself so understands what we are going through. She gave us insight into our past and present experiences, how to deal with certain personalities, and helped us realize what we want and/or need in this journey to succeed (ie. my survival). The lung cancer therapist runs the support group at the Cancer Centre so she has heard and discussed all the challenges faced by lung cancer patients; participants in the support group range from age 40s to 70s. The median age at time of diagnosis is 70. Where do I fit in? Thirty-something is too young for lung cancer. But I realized through these sessions that I don't need to find someone my age with stage IV lung cancer in order to relate. Anyone with any cancer, at any stage, will experience similar emotions and challenges. 

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the power of the mind. If you truly believe in something, you can make it happen.  Like the placebo effect, your mind can help you heal.  I imagine my drugs working as I take them (Die cancer cells! Die!). I imagine my future without cancer (relaxing on the beach in Bali). I meditate to calm my mind, free myself from fear, anxiety, anger.  And after reconnecting with my faith, I pray. All of this, I believe, will help me heal.