Lessons Learned From Cancer

By: Traci Patterson, CH, CI, Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

December, 2014 I wrote an article, “Life Lessons I Learned from Cancer”. Well, it’s time to update that article a bit.

In 2015, there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. These are startling statistics to say the least; Cancer is claiming more and more lives every day.

Cancer is a diagnosis that will rock the foundation of anyone’s world and take the wind out of their sails. Yet, does it really have to be this way?

In June of 2015, the wind was taken out of our sail for both my husband and me when he was re-diagnosed with metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The official results of the PET CT came in while I was out of state treating a chronic pain patient. This is something that no one ever wants to hear and when you do your heart skips a beat, your stomach churns, you feel like you are in a movie and it just can’t be happening, and then you realize… yes, it is real.

In the United States we were faced with the grim reality of the spread of my husband’s cancer and were given the reality check that with this type of cancer that even chemotherapy would not stop it. In short, we were told to get our affairs in order, work on his “Bucket List”, spend as much time with family and friends, and my husband was asked where he was spiritually. I think that pretty much summed it up.

For me it’s yet another life journey, but cancer has proven to be a patient teacher that can and will unlock doors and open your mind, heart and soul to a wealth of lessons if you will receive them. There are many lessons to learn but here are just a few I have learned along the way:

  1. Knowledge is Power:   As aforementioned, in the United States we were told there really was no stopping this type of cancer. We were pretty much told to get our affairs in order and live life to its fullest as long as my husband was able. When we asked about getting treatment out of country and doing alternative or integrative treatments we were told we would have nothing to lose, but none of it was proven. We were told if he did get better with these methods he would be, “an anomaly”. 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 integrative/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(s), we choose to believe we could impact the cancer with integrative medicine and chose to do so. I contacted the Medical Director of Infusio, a clinic that I had been treated at myself for CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and my husband had been treated at previously. I was fortunate enough to know about Infusio from both of our previous treatments and was able to reach out to them for an immediate consultation. We made the decision to get the treatment needed with Infusio in Frankfurt, Germany. They gave us the best options to give us hope and health in the long run.
  2. Mind – Body Connection: The importance of the individual going through cancer to realizing the mind – body connection is huge. Utilizing hypnosis, self-hypnosis, meditation, relaxation techniques and biofeedback can be a big facilitator to the body having the ability to heal. Decreasing stress levels for cancer or any type of medical condition is a great starting point.
  3. 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.
  4. Celebrate Life: Anyone who’s walked through the footsteps of cancer or chronic illness can attest to the way you celebrate life as you are going through the storm and 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, we work on the “Bucket List”, and we spend time with loved ones. As ironic as it may sound, facing cancer has caused us to live life with even more resilience and passion.

We have 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. 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 continues to make 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.

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ Francis of Assisi