Those of you who are signed up to the Soul Whispering blog will know how delighted I was to welcome Aoife (pronounced Eefa) as a very special guest writer and artist just recently.
Aoife speaks to the hearts of us all, in words which are simple and genuine. This particular post is very close to her own heart and we are grateful to her for sharing her own recent experience of breast cancer and the insights it brought her.
While this is Aoie’s story and experience, it’s definitely worth adding here the value of homeopathy in supporting the mental, emotional and physical aspects of this often scary diagnosis and in managing side effects of treatments.
Welcome and thank you Aoife, Melanie
Yesterday I met a man who announced, “I am a cancer survivor. If someone tells you you have cancer and you’re going to die, don’t believe them. You can cure yourself.” Last year I may have been dubious but after my own experience with cancer I’d have to agree with him. I have now read of, heard of and know so many people who have successfully cured themselves of cancer and there is so much information on the internet about the many natural cancer treatments.
My new friend claimed that cancer is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B17 and he cured himself by eating apricot kernels. But he also stopped smoking, drinking and embraced a living foods diet and, I’m pretty sure, adopted a strong, positive attitude.
It sounds insensitive and unrealistic to say you can cure yourself of cancer. After all, millions still die from it every year, just as millions died of bubonic plague and leprosy before their causes and treatments became understood. We’re just starting to understand the true causes and treatments of cancer. When you talk about its causes people can feel judged, as if you’re saying it’s their fault they got cancer or they deserved it. No-one deserves cancer and it’s not your fault if you get it. If you get caught in the rain and get a cold do you deserve that cold? Is it your fault? Of course not.
The reason researchers haven’t found a cure for cancer is because it’s not a disease as such. It is your body/the universe saying, “Hello, something’s out of balance here, wake up and fix it.” And we’ve usually been getting those messages for a long time but our lack of understanding leads us to ignore them.
Take my case. I grew up on sugar. I suffered recurrent colds and tonsillitis and, in my late teens, depression. When I was 25 I read about the negative health impacts of sugar and cut it out. My physical and mental health improved immensely. But over time sugar crept back into my diet until I developed thrush and gave it up again . . . for a few years. But, still not listening to the wisdom of my body, which was saying NEVER EVER EAT SUGAR AGAIN, I relapsed.
So what was the first thing I did when I knew I may have cancer? Gave up sugar FOR LIFE. Science now knows that 97% of our immune system is in our gut and one of the most important things we can do for our overall health is look after our gut flora. Sugar destroys our good bacteria, allowing the bad bacteria to flourish, leading to proliferation of yeast infections, inflammation and eventually, cancer.
My body had been telling me for years that sugar was bad for me but I hadn’t always listened. So, was it my fault I got cancer? Did I deserve it? Of course not. But I can see a chain of cause and effect. Does everyone who eats sugar get cancer? Obviously not. But my body knew what weakens my immunity and was warning me off it.
It’s easier to see in the case of a smoker. They smoke, they develop a cough – the body is saying ‘stop smoking’. They keep smoking, they become short of breath – ‘Stop Smoking.’ Finally, they have a heart attack or develop lung cancer, ‘STOP SMOKING!’ It’s easy to see. We know smoking is bad for you. But do we point the finger and say, you smoke, you deserve cancer? No, we have compassion. It’s not so long since smoking was encouraged as healthy. When doctors smoked and recommended menthol cigarettes for coughs. Now science knows better but our bodies always know best.
So, the lesson is to learn to listen to the wisdom of our bodies before science catches up with us. But cancer doesn’t just have a physical cause. We are mind-body-spirit beings and all of those elements need to be in harmony for perfect health. We now know that stress is a killer and that poor mental health affects our physical health and vice versa.
Just as gut flora imbalances can lead to depression, our spiritual imbalances manifest physically. Illness is a great catalyst for spiritual growth. I spoke in my Soul Whispering blog – Reconnecting the Heart – about severing my heart connection with my daughter, and where did my cancer manifest itself? In the breast, right slap bang in the middle of my heart centre.
Fear is the emotional equivalent of sugar, wreaking the same havoc on our bodies, destroying our gut flora and weakening our immune system. Which is why one of the most important things to eradicate when faced with a cancer diagnosis is fear. I know it’s not easy. Cancer = Fear. I don’t blame anyone who gives in to it. But it can be done, though it’s hard work. I worked really hard at staying calm, cheerful and positive, because I knew my life depended on it.
A year before my cancer diagnosis I suddenly experienced severe panic attacks and anxiety, lasting several months. I was lucky enough to find the cause – over-breathing – and cure, Buteyko Breathing Retraining. It wasn’t hard to see the connection when I was diagnosed with cancer. And I wasn’t actually scared then. Cancer was something I could understand and tackle. Not being able to breathe in the panic attacks was much scarier. You don’t breathe, you die.
My cancer was caught early and I knew I wouldn’t die. I had been given that reassurance almost from the start. And I had a LOT of spiritual help at staying strong and calm. I was given the gift of strength.
If I was religious I would say that God lifted me up in his hands. That’s what it felt like.
I don’t know how I would have coped if my diagnosis had been serious but I do know that there was an amazing woman in the bed next to me in hospital, who did have a serious diagnosis, who was undergoing horrendous treatment and who was working her darndest at staying positive under far more difficult circumstances than me.
So, what if you approach cancer with a positive attitude, do everything you can and still die? Have you failed? Or have you lived your last few months to the full?
Perhaps a big issue is our culture’s attitude to death. We all expect to die in our sleep in our 80’s and anything else is seen as failure. Is that a realistic concept? On the one hand we are living longer, healthier lives. Our hygiene, sanitation and medical systems have improved hugely. Until fairly recently, infant and child mortality were common, death was a sad, everyday fact of life. But many people still die younger. Is it just because we’ve pushed death away, behind hospital doors? Or is it that we are no longer prepared to accept illness and premature death as an inevitable part of life?
Maybe it’s a part of the awakening of the spirit, fitting in with the new scientific understanding that our DNA is controlled by our thoughts and environment. Our inner self knows that perfect health and longevity is our birth right, but we are only just beginning to investigate the amazing healing abilities of our minds.
Death is not a failure, death is the inevitable end of our life journey. We are all going to die and we don’t know when. Sooner or later we have to come to terms with our own mortality and make peace with death. It’s something we prefer to put off, like making our will.
But when you have stared death in the face, you understand the preciousness of life. In my case, even though I knew my cancer wasn’t terminal, the very word cancer brings you face to face with death. You realise there are really more important things than unwashed dishes. You value every new day of life as a gift. You see the beauty and wonder in the small things. I look on my cancer as a gift from the universe, because it has given me so much and I guess Gratitude is one of the biggest gifts. Last year I was depressed because I was approaching 50. Now I feel, “I’m going to be 50, hooray! I’ve survived! I am alive.”
I’m not going to die of breast cancer right now but I know that I will die and I don’t know when, so I really have to make the most of the time I have left. I always thought that if I only had a short time left to live I would want to do things I’d never done, go places I’d never visited. But I discovered that what was important to me was not what I did but how I was. How I was with the people I love. I didn’t want to be naggy, demanding and irritable. I wanted to be kind, loving and cheerful. I wanted to make life pleasant for the people around me. I wanted home to be a place where my family felt comfortable and happy. And my heart opened up with love. I think gratitude is an essential part of unconditional love.
I was lucky. I detected my cancer very early and it was easily treated. But I had to participate. It wouldn’t have been any good if I’d undergone treatment but still kept eating sugar and ignored my emotional disconnect. It was facing a mastectomy that made me realise, “Ok, this cancer can be easily removed but if I don’t tackle the underlying causes it may come back again, even nastier next time.” If my father hadn’t given up smoking after his first heart attack, his health would have continued to deteriorate. You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.
I asked the universe, “what am I missing here?” I asked questions and the universe answered them. And they were the big ones, the ones I hadn’t wanted to face for many years. Humility standing out as the biggy. Not to believe I’m always right, to listen, really listen to other people and accept they can be right without making me wrong. And it keeps coming back. Every time I think, ah, now I know everything, the universe sends me another lesson. I have to remain humble and open to every new lesson it sends me.
In the past six months I have dealt with and let go of all my ‘stuff.’ I have healed my relationships with all of my family members. I have let go of all judgement and criticism of others because I see everyone as fellow travellers in this journey of life and we’re all in the same boat. My heart is open and filled with unconditional love for everyone. I am exactly where I always wanted to be in my life, which is perfect, and the only thing that has changed is my perception. And it’s all thanks to cancer. It’s the best teacher because you really can’t ignore it. Cancer can take life, true, but it can also give it.
“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” Helen Keller.
The Biology of Belief – Bruce Lipton PhD
Mum’s Not Having Chemo – Laura Bond