Life Lessons I Learned From Cancer

Written by: Traci Patterson, Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

According to the American Cancer Society, the statistics are startling; Cancer is claiming more and more lives every day.  The numbers tell us that over 1.6 million people will have been diagnosed by the end of 2014 – a diagnosis that can rock the foundation of anyone’s world and take the wind out of their sails.

In July of 2012, that’s what it felt like for me and my husband when he was diagnosed with cancer – Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tonsil/neck. This is something that no one ever wants to hear and when you do your heart skips a beat, you feel like you are in a movie and it just can’t be happening, and then you realize… yes it is real.  At one point my husband was told that he needed a very invasive surgery followed by large doses of radiation.  When I asked about possible complications to the surgery – they were catastrophic.  At another point, we asked the oncologist about alternative options to the surgery or radiation to aid in the fight against the cancer.  “There is nothing,” the oncologist said.  The devastation that initially hits along with the diagnosis is enough to knock the wind out of you.

It’s been a journey, but cancer has proven to be a patient teacher that can unlock doors and open your mind, heart and soul to a wealth of lessons if you will receive them.  Here are some lessons I learned along the way:

  1.  Knowledge is Power:   As aforementioned, my husband’s oncologist insisted there was nothing we could do other than an invasive surgery and radiation treatments for my husband’s cancer. I don’t know if physicians say this because they are afraid of being held liable for suggesting alternative routes, if they are not up to snuff on other options available, or if they legitimately don’t believe in the alternative treatments. What I do know is that plenty of people take such words at face value and remain discouraged or never seek other treatment options. My husband and I, however, decided we’d take a different approach. Despite the opinions of the oncologist, we choose to believe we could impact the cancer with integrative medicine and chose to do so. I contacted the Medical Director from a clinic that I had been treated at myself for CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and I knew they also treated cancer patients with integrative medicine. I was fortunate enough to know about Infusio from my previous treatments and was able to reach out to them for an immediate consultation.  We made a commitment to change my husband’s diet, taking all sugar out (sugar feeds cancer), plus many other things were implemented and get him to Infusio for treatment.  It paid off as he came home after 4 weeks of treatment a new man, and here we are wrapping up 2014 with him cancer free.
  2. Accept Support: This is the time to embrace the support of family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. We had a wonderful support system in place from family and friends. It is important to stay connected with loved ones and to allow them to nourish you when you feel depleted. So often, people go through life wanting to shoulder burdens themselves but at the end of the day, you only end up physically spent, emotionally exhausted, and mentally taxed. It’s imperative to allow people to help you and to allow yourself to be helped.  Also know that the journey is not without surprised along the way. Cancer has a way of teaching you who your true friends are; the ones who will be beside you through thick and thin, through up’s and down’s, through the good and bad. Keep those friends close once their faithfulness is revealed through the trials. They are the ones who will help you build a life of unconditional love and memories.
  3. Celebrate Life: Anyone who’s walked through the footsteps of cancer or chronic illness can attest to the way you celebrate life once the storm has passed. With every sunrise and sunset; with every butterfly; every bird song and rainfall; with every blossoming flower in the spring and every golden leaf in the fall – we celebrate the little notes that compose life’s great symphony.  We take the time to breathe in the fresh air. We take the time to savor the sweetness of fresh fruits. We laugh, we play, and we spend time with loved ones. As ironic as it may sound, facing cancer caused us to live life with even more passion.

We received the encouragement that we needed from the doctors and staff at Infusio that allowed us to focus on fighting the cancer and my husband getting better, and he did. Sometimes you need to change your environment, your surroundings, allow yourself to do some soul searching while going through this journey and know that you will survive. Focus on the good!

We know what we have been through, cancer, and it made us stronger. We live in constant gratitude, hearts brimming with love and thankfulness because no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what our present situation, no matter the trials before us… we’re here, we’re alive… and we can continue to make our mark on this world one day at a time.

Treating Pain That Won’t Go Away

By Traci Patterson, Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Chronic pain is pain that will not go away long after the initial injury. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is chronic pain that develops out of all proportion to the initial injury, and it typically will start in an arm or a leg.

In a chronic pain patient there is a distal loop that occurs that doesn’t get to the spinal cord. This pain loop is what keeps the pain going as the neurotransmitters are not firing correctly. Thus, the normal things that stop pain don’t work in chronic pain patients.

There are two types of CRPS. Type 1, which accounts for 90 percent of documented cases, according to the Mayo Clinic, marked by nerve pain when no nerve damage was involved in the initial injury. Type 2 is a more explicable development of regional pain after damage to the nerves.

After a relatively minor or localized injury, perhaps only to a hand or ankle, pain can spread to the entire rest of the limb. The symptoms include either burning or a “pins and needles” sensation. The affected area can become very sensitive to touch (allodynia) and the limb can change temperature, color, and swell. This is due to abnormal microcirculation caused by damage to the nerves controlling blood flow and temperature, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at NIH.

Many cases of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome occur after a forceful trauma to an arm or a leg, such as a crush injury, fracture or amputation. Other major and minor traumas — such as surgery, heart attacks, infections and even sprained ankles — also can lead to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Some psychologists have stated that emotional stress may be a precipitating factor, as well.

After regaining my life and getting into remission myself from CRPS, I am now treating chronic pain patients in my hypnosis practice. I see patients who have persistent pain because of chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, CRPS, chronic back pain, chronic fatigue, migraines, PTSD, cancer pain, etc. I see patients who have not responded to traditional treatments and they are searching for non-invasive, drug free treatment options.

Most people don’t realize that the body is in a constant state of ‘Fight – Flight’ when dealing with chronic pain. This causes the body to be in a continual stress state, and in response you have the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands from the stress. Continued high levels of cortisol have been shown to lengthen the healing period. Therefore, you are in a never ending loop.

The bottom line is that by utilizing hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques, visualization, biofeedback and other somatic therapies you can break the continual loops and allow the individual to gain control.

Yes, many people will say they have either heard of others that tried hypnosis or maybe they have tried it themselves. But, I would ask this question: Did you or the person you are speaking with work with someone that was also certified in ‘Pain Management’ and were they well versed in chronic pain or your condition?

I ask this question because when I was going through my journey with chronic pain I too tried hypnosis early on. Unfortunately, it didn’t work because the person I saw was not certified in ‘Pain Management’ and did not have a background in chronic pain.   Yet when I worked with someone with the proper credentials and someone that worked with the psychology, biology and physiology of the brain and how it responds to pain – I got into remission and regained my life. This is a large piece of the puzzle to allowing chronic pain patients to gain control over their pain and to regain their lives!

If you would like to know more about treatment options for chronic pain please contact Traci at Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.

(714) 717-6633 | |