Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Pages 36 - 41

‘Cancer – 50 Essential Things to Do’ is a book by Greg Anderson which I used as a guide to journal what I needed to work through in the immediate aftermath of being diagnosed with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February, 2006. I am grieving for my life at this point and trying to keep my head above water.

Quotes from the book will be in italics.

Practice Visualization (35):

Visualize the cancer disappearing and your body returning to health.

The most important criterion for picturing the disease is to think of the cancer as weak and confused. Don’t give it power.

Imagine your treatment as strong and powerful, damaging only the weak cancer cells. Imagine your healthy cells remaining intact.

Give your body the command to heal itself. End the imagery by seeing yourself well, free of disease, and filled with energy.

Self-direction is necessary to beginning the pursuit of any life goal.

*At first reality will lag behind the vision we have of the desired outcome. But that vision will tend to pull us in the direction we need to go.

- Evoke the relaxation response
– The Lord is my Shepherd. Lord I am not worthy to receive you, only say the word and I will be healed.

- Picture your cancer cells as weak and confused.

- Create a mental image of your treatment and your immune system overcoming the cancer.

- Imagine your body’s natural processes eliminating the disease from your system.

- Envision the cancer shrinking until it disappears
– my imagery is the cancer cells are crushed ice cubes with hot water being poured on them. They are dissolving rapidly and leaving my body. So long cancer – don’t come back as you are unwelcome.

- Imagine yourself well, filled with vitality for living.

*Daily evoke the relaxation response, follow it with a visualization exercise.

Minimize Treatment Side Effects (36):

When you see treatment as a friend, a more positive perception starts to work favourably with the treatment.

Understand the Message of Illness (37):

*Being diagnosed with breast cancer does not mean you have been handed a death sentence. What it does mean is that you have a serious problem for which you have many options.

I honestly think that the more you talk about it the easier it is to deal with it. In the beginning it’s really hard to say ‘I’ve got breast cancer.’ And you cry every time you say it. But the more you talk about it, the easier it gets. There’ll be times when you don’t want to talk or think about it, but trust me it gets easier.

Listen, listen, listen, and then ask strategic questions.

Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.

Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle them.

You always have choice and the conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time. Choose a positive thought.

Stress is related to 99% of all illnesses.

Five things to do when your on your own are head to a bookstore; visit your parents; go to a spa; take a class; and or do a crossword puzzle.

Illness is more of a challenge than a threat. It can be a call for personal growth.

This is a turning point, a time to replace ineffective and limited ways of coping.

*Understand that if we have participated in our illness, then by definition, we can participate in our wellness.

Define your true needs.

Perhaps the greatest fear we have is that of the unknown. Cancer capitalizes on that fear.

Distress levels in spouses are as high as those in patients. Cancer is a family affair.

*Communicate your needs and don’t feel as though you have to soldier on. Cancer made it acceptable for me to turn and get help. That’s one of the privileges of the illness.

Thank you God! I love you!

Give yourself permission to define your true needs.

High-stress events that occurred in the year or two prior to diagnosis or recurrence included Mom was very ill and put on oxygen; money – working or not working; disappointment (30th anniversary); and a few others that I am not listing. I definitely can identify major stresses in my life prior to the onset of cancer.

My three major emotional responses to these high stress events were to swallow them and I did not express emotions; did not process how I felt at all; became depressed; put others needs before mine; pretended I was invincible and showed no emotions; and did not seek support from others.

My emotional self-care was ineffective.

I could have changed these circumstances by honouring my own emotional needs first; speak my mind; refuse to swallow family garbage, so that the family felt better; and I could have been more hopeful.

I could have changed my emotional response by processing the emotions and working through them opposed to swallowing and dismissing them.

There is no need to keep the peace/calm at any cost.


Arija said...

Keep this book under your pillow, it says what I have been longing to say to you for ages and handles the dis-ease of the body as I do with those who come to me for guidance.
It is much harder to say things at a distance than it is if I have my hands on you which not only gives you access to the healing energy but also opens my channel to be tuned into what you need to hear at the time. Breast cancer is based on a perceived lack of nurturing, either of yourself or of your ability to pass on, it is quite a large can of worms and deeply buried in your own being, Something you certainly even if you can find, cannot easily accept of or for yourself. Feel free to wipe my comment or tell me to f.. off, I'll understand if you reject what i say.

Anonymous said...

i wrote a little something for you and me, a reminder to us to help us remember.
i love you Renee
you are always in my heart

Marie S said...

All I can say is oh shit, this sounds like my last two years.

"High-stress events that occurred in the year or two prior to diagnosis or recurrence included Mom was very ill and put on oxygen; money – working or not working; disappointment (30th anniversary); and a few others that I am not listing. I definitely can identify major stresses in my life prior to the onset of cancer."

Anonymous said...


Thoughts, feelings and emotions are always better when they get flushed out. It gives them a chance to take flight and evolve into something positive.


karengberger said...

Thank you for sharing how this book helped you and how you used it. I am always inspired when I read what you did with it, and how it affected your attitude. It seems like a very powerful tool, when used with desire, honesty and deep thought.
Perhaps what you know from this book can expand to help your whole family at this time. XO

Diana Evans said...

Hi Renee!!!

I practice visualization all the time....I also preach about it with all my friends...


kj said...

you know, renee, reading these journal pages is like getting to know you then and now all at the same time, and it is exquisitely satisfying.

you've just picked up your 300th follower. that's a lot of prayers. but don't forget i am still in your yard saying 'fuck fuck fuck' to those cancer cells. they are pissed about it so they are shriveling. and now i'm thinking about saying 'fuck fuck fuck' to ice cubes while i pour hot water on them. no harm in buffering up our resources, right?


the word verf. is resses...hmmmm.


Sarah said...

Great post Renee and a timely reminder to be present and be your own advocate. As women I think we all tend to take care of everyone else first..we do not want to be the "bitch". But sometimes..we need to be to take care of us first. Wonderful book and reminder to be present in our own lives.
Love you hon hope you are doing ok. Do you have any of that Soup still on the stove..I do love me some soup!!
Jim said howdy to ya!!!
Love ya, Sarah

Beth said...

Hi Renee, I love your blog. I have started from the beginning and am up to Oct 2008... still reading. Your writing and your pictures are beautiful.

About today's post - I turned it around to look at from my perspective - which is that really I don't have cancer, they took it out with the surgery, and all this chemo and radiation is 'just in case'. But the chemo is adding so much stress to me and breaking me down physically and emotionally - does that leave me more open to cancer? I also had a lot of stress in the 12-18 months leading up to my diagnosis. I strongly suspect that triggered it somehow.

I am very thankful my cancer is at an early stage and I should be able to be back to a 'normal' life cancer-free in a few months. I can't even imagine the stress of being stage iv, but am so glad you and others write about it and share it with us.

I do plan to keep the stress down as much as is in my control in my 'new' life after cancer - my motto will be 'stop and smell the flowers'.

Thank you, you are an amazing woman!

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

"Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle them."

That is so wise and true!

Thanks Renee for your wonderful posts and for even taking the time right now with so much going on in your life. Prayers still going up!
Love, Darla♥

Allegra Smith said...

oh love, I do agree with you so completely. We swallow cancer with each bite of stress sent our way. If we let go even a bit it frees us to work with the real issues.

My first bout with cancer was my Pac-Man game. I imagined that the chemo was Pac and the ghosts were the sick cells. My second was the I have enough of this, and I am out of here as in divorce after twenty some years of marriage.

And so on. The one thing I have learned to heart is that I am important, that my life counts, that I am basically a nice person who truly cares for others but that if you swallowed garbage from anything or anyone it stays inside in some form, physically or emotionally.

Feelings cannot speak for themselves and so we must. They are the sustaining force in life. When someone told me once "I felt such and such thing but I just couldn't say a word" I wonder what happened to the grief and the worry, the sadness and the anger that those feelings must have inspired. Inside, festering and infecting.

Cancer is real, it is a physical, horrible glitch in our DNA. I do not blame the patient for it. But I do believe that a little more compassion towards one's self, needs and wants can go a long way to help walk this difficult path consciously of our own value and what we are able to contribute to this world. I love you girl, come over for tea, the kettle is ready.

Strawberry Girl said...

Your so inspiring, this post is so inspiring! I love you Renee, I think of you often and I am praying for you!


Renee said...

How I love you Nadalene. You are a beacon of love.

Love Mom xoxoxo

soulbrush said...

should'ves, could'ves and would'ves are very destructive...i try not to use them anymore in my battle through life. love ya R.xxxx


I have read all the books by Caroline Myss on intuitive health.
The one book that read true for me was "How People Can Heal and Why They Don't". It is fascinating how our own thought process projects on to our own body process.

When my Love-hippie/anti-war uncle could not "fight" his cancer he agreed that he could visualize the "Pulling weeds" ...cancerous weeds.
It neutralized the emotions, and gave him/us work-in-progress-gear.

Anil P said...

You will find sunshine where you seek it, birds where you hear them, flowers where you see them, and happiness where you follow your heart.

Rikkij said...

Renee- I believe that stress stuff. Bad news for sure and such a waste of energy. There was a time when I would begin to feel sick and would literally talk to my body, my stomach and head and instruct it to fight and I swear I did. The truth is I rarely get sick anymore. Can't afford to. uh oh. Shouldn'ta said that!! take care, precious friend~rick

Manon Doyle said...

Hi Renee,
Terrific post! I so believe that stress contributes to illness. I've seen it happen so many times.
I've been having a little anxiety myself lately but I'm talking myself out of it. Not worth my getting sick!!

Meghann LittleStudio said...

I love you Renee. That's all I can say.
You are beautiful.
You are my friend.
Real Hugs,
Meghann xoxo

Baino said...

Renee, keeping the peace at all costs is my major flaw. It's very hard to be open, emotinal, honest . . .I'm trying and I'm imagining the stressors you had before are little compared to the stressors in your life now. I'm working hard on being more true to myself. If other's don't like it well damn the consequences. Look after your self . . .if you're nurtured, you're able to nurture others. You my dear girl are an inspiration to others. Truly.

yoborobo said...

"Self-direction is necessary to beginning the pursuit of any life goal." I'm chewing on this one today. Nibbling on it and hoping that it gets processed by the little grey cells and that I truly take it in.
You are a fabulous individual, Miss Renee. Love to you xox Pam

Deborah said...

I'm late, I'm late, but always thinking of you, my heart holding yours. How my heart has grown...larger and larger to encompass the hearts of Jacquie and Sheldon and your mom. That is quite a bit of love to keep one's heart beating. **kisskiss** Deb

Kim said...

I feel so humbled, reading the stresses that your family are facing with such courage and dignity.

I can only offer the kind thoughts and prayers of a stranger, somewhere across the Atlantic

Kim x

Ces said...

You are an incredible teacher, you really are. Should you have been my teacher in the classroom I would have loved every second spent in school!

Chrisy said...

After being raised by a mother who's mantra was 'keep the peace at all costs' the last part of this post resonated with me...I've been working on this...it's not easy tho..and I've had the stress theory re cancer for a while...I watched two close friends diagnosed with virilant forms years after extrememly traumatic events (8 years in one case and 10 in another)so I think it does impact even many years after the event. But for all of the above some people who handle stress well, or haven't had any major stresses, still get cancer. Some genetic...some environmental... Yes it's a great goal for life in
general...to find strategies to help us in stressful situations...if only it was that simple tho...and being somebody with a chronic illness myself....who's tried every alternative therapy there is...but is alive because of conventional medicine....I think we can heap so much pressure on ourselves re our illnesses...it's not our fault...it's not something that we did or didn't do...it just is...and it's shitty! (just expressin myself there)...love you girl n treasure our friendship...

lakeviewer said...

You are sending out timely reminders to your brain, and to your friends.

Be your best friend; nurture your thoughts as you would your body.

Sorround yourself with people who are sweet, positive, energized. Children, for instance.

secret agent woman said...

"There is no need to keep the peace/calm at any cost." You are so right.

I love the idea of visualizing the cancer cells as weak and confused, Like wasps that have just been sprayed with insecticide, staggering around before they die.

Still holding you guys in my heart.

Marion said...

That is one awesome book, Renee! It's overflowing with great advice. Hugs, Love and Blessings, dear friend of my heart!

Ces said...

Aaaah! I know! I can't help it. I was always the teacher's pet even if was full of mischief. Now about the drawing, I just realize I have not finished your Moleskine, so now I have to come up with something in order to get that A+++.

Ces said...

Oh and BTW, Bella will definitely be your favourite and I will not be jealous at all, in fact be very delighted. I would kick the ass of every bully who touched her!

Sonia ;) said...

Lovey...How you inspire...Keep shining..

xoxox S

Silke said...

You are such a beacon of inspiration, light and love! I am so happy to have met you and cherish your wisdom immensely! I think about you and your family all the time and hope that healing has begun! Love, Silke
P.S. Thanks for inviting me to visit your home on blogland lane! I think I will...:)

Woman in a Window said...

The power of positive thought. It can make real things happen. Must stick with it, you and me.

Ces said...

HAHAHAHA! You are the coolest teacher ever! You will be the kind of teacher the students will shower with gifts during holidays and at the end of the schoolyear! You will be,..you are the kind of teacher that touches the lives of her pupils until after they have graduated. You are the teacher who they will consider their friend.

Blech! Why would I eat a banana out of someone's ears! Ah yes of course, we will share the bananas with the other children.

That bella, she is the most studious of all your students and I think Marie is the sweetest of all. Marie will be the student who will always have positive ideas about fund-raising. Never a swear word from her lips and Bella will keep saying "What the..." that's all she's going to say because she does not swear or cuss, come to think of it, she never has, and you will gasp because you heard me call the bully a real nasty name but you won't punish me because the bully tried to trip Marie, but I also boxed the bully's ears, so this time you call my parents and they come marching to school. Oh great! I am in trouble now.

Seriously, I need to finish the Moleskine. It will be my priority.

Ces said...


I did not say that!

(You made me gasp and scream! Daisy started running into the bedroom to check me out!)

I said something like...I can't repeat all of it but it was still related to school supplies, something like "You short stubby pencil (something)!"

Ces said...

Goodnight dearest renee, I love you too. Tsup!

yoborobo said...

Renee - I'm toddling off to bed, the house is very quiet, all the chicks are in bed, and I'm thinking of you. Times like this I wish I had one of those high-falutin' transporter gizmos, so I could stop by for a cuppa tea and a quick chat before bed.
Love to you, my friend. xox Pam

kj said...

renee, i like how you empower yourself. pouring hot water on those ice cube cancer cells will stick in my mind forever more.

still, i don't subscribe to the notion that you/we are the cause of our illnesses. i believe that accepting blame for cause and effect can be counter-productive, and i would not like to think of you struggling the belief that it's "your fault." i do believe in taking responsibility for whatever happens, which i think is different. maybe it's just semantics. i just know that your attitude is a huge reason why you are alive, teaching and supporting and inspiring others.

today, as always, i am proud to call you my friend.


~Babs said...

"Peace/calm at any cost"
is not affordable.
We all know it, but still often fall into it.
May it not always be so.
Thanks for holding the mirror, Renee.

Kim said...

Thank you for taking the time to drop by and leave kind words on my blog. You must be so busy so I do appreciate your visit. Your conversations with Ces have made me laugh this morning :)

Thinking of you all today

Kim x

ruthie said...

Always better out than in, something i have been learning to my own amazement Renee, for most of my life i kept things all inside- over the past months have been learning to let it all out. i got pretty scared cause suddenly all this anger was there inside me!! i feel awhole lot better now & understand so much more. i know it is so not healthy to try & keep it together, being strong & wanting to stay strong, so not easy to let it out, to let go, but so worth it in the end. love & hugs to you x x x

LDWatkins said...

I do so admire your strength. We're all praying for your body to accept the many prayers being sent up for you. Your mind has already done that. We love you. Lynda

Chris said...

Being TRUE to your feelings, which are real and valid, is all that has to be done. We nurture all the time, and it's not habitual to be so honest and immediate, because we don't want to 'bother' others. But this is a time for direct acceptance of your feelings, for everyone.

Sherry Byrum said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. It gives me a way to be supportive of my loved one who has cancer. It gave me just enough of a view into the thoughts of my loved one that may help me cope and be more supportive.

You are a brave, courageous person to share yourself with the rest of us in such a personal way. I will continue praying for you and send healing energy your way!!

Many blessings,

Daria said...

Distress levels in spouses are as high as those in patients. Cancer is a family affair.

I think it might even be harder on the family than on me. The treatment keeps me preoccupied.

Thanks for posting these quotes ... it teaches us all so much.

mermaid said...

Very powerful reflections.

rochambeau said...

Yes!! To all of your thoughts, Renee and also the quotes from 50 Essential thing!!
Love to you
and may you continued to be healed and made whole!

rochambeau said...

Congrats on all the wonderful, well deserved awards on your sidebar~right!!!!!


A Palmer said...

Renee, this is a great post for all of us to remember. We women seem to always want to put everyone else first, suck it up, be the brave one. But it is exactly as you have written - we end up the victims of that. We have to learn to say "no" so that when we really need to we can say "yes!"

Big hugs, Renee. Anne

Angela Recada said...

My mother, too, was the kind of person who swallowed all her pain, disappointments, frustrations and anger. She had breast cancer twice. The first time at age 46. She finally stopped, and she's a feisty 70-something now.

A friend of mine who worked for many years with cancer patients said that there was definite connection with repressed stress and breast cancer.

I've had "pre-cancerous" lumps removed twice, had gruesome diagnostic procedures done on me (ductal lavage - horrible, horrible stuff!), take medication to hopefully prevent cancer, had a hysterectomy to end estrogen production, refused to have "prophylactic removal" of both breasts, and I now let out all my frustrations. I refuse to let anything negative fester in me anymore. Negative energy is toxic.

Thank you, again, dear one, for so generously sharing your experiences, pain, and insights with all of us.

I love you and your honesty. I love your strength. And I especially love your wicked sense of humor.

(Haha! The word verification is "mushi", so I guess I'll stop gushing all over you now!)

Kelly Lish said...

Renee, thank you for leaving me a comment-I don't even feel worthy of your inspiring gifts. I think God has given you a very difficult job, that you are handling with such grace and beauty. He must be so proud of you. Your words are touching and inspiring and will help others with illness and those without also. I love you Renee, and am going to keep you in all my prayers. You are one of Gods special Angels on earth, with an important job-you're wonderful.