In the past I have loosely referred to my healing journey with cancer and long-term chronic illness. But, what I haven’t really shared are the pieces of that particular healing journey or what they looked like and the process I used to stay in and be open to the grace that surrounded me during those years of healing.
Hearing that “C” word come out of a doctor’s mouth is something way too many of us have heard either for ourselves or for someone we love. I have had to work through the impact of that word in relationship to my grandmothers, two of my uncles, my mother, and my beautiful little 4-year-old niece (at the time of her diagnosis). My family is made up of warriors, so taking on cancer was no different and another battle they all met head-on. My mom and niece beat the odds and are survivors! For my two uncles, sadly they lost their fights after long battles. Cancer was now on my door step and I couldn’t stop myself from worrying. What was going to happen with me?
From that first moment of sitting in the doctor’s office and throughout the healing process, avalanche after avalanche of thoughts, feelings, and emotions would consume me. I wanted to be a good warrior like my family members had been before me. I took on the strong front and worked my way through the process of testing, meetings, hearing all the different options or lack of options in my case.
I tried to honor and listen to everyone’s thoughts and opinions of how to “beat” cancer, until one day after collapsing in fear and loss of hope, I was willing to surrender to the little quite voice in my heart. I finally was willing to accept that my healing journey had to be just that – mine. I could listen to the experts, do the research, however at the end of the day it was my relationship with myself – body, mind, and soul – that I needed to rely on. For me, the word “fight” didn’t fit. For too long I had fought to just survive. I had fought to be heard. I had fought for pretty much anything and everything. Prior to the diagnosis, I had finally learned how to break free from the fight/flight/freeze survival mode that had run my life in the past and was finally learning how to love and lead my life. I wanted, well frankly needed, the same approach to healing cancer. The warrior strength I needed was not one of fight but one of a spiritual warrior.
I chose the word “love” instead of “fight”. I knew that I needed to have faith in my body’s ability to heal itself out of unconditional love and grace. The problem was that the “faith” word and I were on pretty shaky ground at that moment. How could it not be? I thought I was on my way to embracing leading my life and my soul purpose. In the months prior to my diagnosis, I was finally stepping into believing in my authentic voice. I had started to expand Unbridled Change and the number of clients we could serve. My family life was the strongest it had ever been, and I felt that I was truly leading my life in partnership with my soul purpose.
Then wham! It felt like the universe and God had sucker punched me in the gut, knocked me off balance, and just for good measure did a flamenco dance on me. I felt isolated and alone, cut off from my soul and the amazing power I knew I had when I was connected to source and grace. I felt abandoned by the very source I had felt was guiding me just months before. So yes, “faith” was not a word I really liked at that moment in time.
Let me give you a little background, prior to this diagnosis, I had already developed a very different and holistic approach to how I understood the concept of healing. I believed everyone had an innate power to channel grace to ignite your body’s natural ability to heal itself. My approach was based on the science and teachings of such teachers as Caroline Myss, Gregg Braden, Dr. Joe Dispenza, and Dr. Bruce Lipton just to name a few. I had been incorporating their work in healing chronic long-term illness and also strengthening my own mind-body-soul connection and it was working not only for me but for my clients as well! This cancer curve ball felt like the universe calling my bluff and asking for me to put my money where my mouth was so to speak. Was I willing to take the leap of faith that I could “heal” something like cancer in the same way? To say this was requiring a leap of faith is a gross understatement!
I took the leap and went with where my heart was leading me from “fighting” cancer, to letting the cancer be my teacher and my guide on how to strength my connection with my inner healer. Just to be clear, I don’t buy into I “created” cancer to learn a lesson or any of the what Caroline Myss calls “new age nonsense”. That seriously limiting belief turns me into a victim, something I have had enough of and have no desire to feed into.
What I do believe in is what is called, Post Traumatic Growth. Post Traumatic Growth is defined as “an experience an individual has whose development, at least in some areas has surpassed what was present before the struggle with crises occurred. The individual has not only survived, but has experienced changes that are viewed as important, and that go beyond the status quo” (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2004).
I’m living proof of this concept – a couple times over now J. This last healing journey experience is where I took an experience and found the opportunity that was within it to redefine my understanding of the laws of healing. I found some hidden insights, pearls of knowledge, and skills that really brought together and strengthened my confidence in what I call the second and third stages of how I approach healing on all levels – mind, body, and soul.
Another amazing thing about Post Traumatic Growth is that you feel empowered to share your experience and growth with others, so they too can benefit from the hidden strength you found in your journey to support them on theirs in their own lives. Throughout this blog series I am going to do just that – share in hopes that it supports you too!
I will be sharing a little more about what I call the 3 stages of healing in the Unbridled Change method – helping you move from just surviving life to learning how to live, love, and lead your authentic life! Throughout this series I will touch a little deeper into each stage and a few of the key points we work on at Unbridled Change through our equine partnered psychotherapy and coaching programs. Next week we will dive into Stage One – Learning to Live your Life – I hope you will join me!
Sending light and love on your journey — Michelle