Yesterday I was reminded about my chances of survival of my disease and today I was asked to share a story, so I thought I would share it to all of you so you may benefit or know someone who might benefit from where I am right now in my healing.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer is a really messed up Cancer to begin with. I went to Cancer Yoga on Sunday and met a woman who wanted to meet me. She too was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, but she was a stage 3. That put her ,as she said, in the 35 percentile chance of survival for 5 years. I told her I was originally diagnosed with stage 4. As you may have deducted this is not a very high chance of survival. She looked sad for me. In fact everyone who hears my diagnosis looks sad for me, including medical professionals. I don’t think anybody realizes how hard this is on a persons head.
Lately I realized that from the beginning the medical professionals had written me off for dead. As I had been listening to the difference the exact same doctor had treated me as compared to another lady with the same diagnosis, but stage 3. I had been down, frustrated and often feeling doubt about my chances of survival. I mean, when a professional writes you off it is pretty hard to find hope, but I have great friends who pray for me and remind me that the ultimate healer makes that choice and I believe in miracles.
Recently I recieved the gift of an Oncologist who gave me hope. He informed me that everything he saw on the CT scans showed a person who was healing and it was his job to make sure that happened. Unfortunately it meant additional Chemo, but I am willing to do what it takes to heal, and he said it was his job to support my body. He ordered me up a drug that would help my body get through the Chemo better and he sent me out the door with hope. I was grateful and over the last two weeks I have been feeling better everyday. Hope is powerful and I believe the first thing needed for a person to begin to heal.
Now for the story. Today I talked to a woman on the phone who was heading a program to help people with chronic pain. I told her my story and she asked if she could share it with her group. I said yes it is a story for everyone so I figured I would share it with you too.
If you didn’t know me before the cancer you may not know that I struggled with an autoimmune disorder and chronic pain that went back to when I was a kid. Because of this I have tried many different disciplines of healing. It was through the search for healing that I found belief in God and also the power of the mind. I was guided to understand the power of cognitive conditioning.
Cognitive conditioning is basically a fancy word for brain training. It has been the focus lately as there has begun to be a merge towards scientific reasoning and God. I started learning about God through Quantum physics and psychology. I have been fascinated by the mind since I went to school for psychology and my passion lead to many different processes that made sense. The first thing I realized was that believing in a higher power was essential to hope and the second thing I realized was that our brains, the thing that runs our bodies, are completely trainable. This works for the good and bad of everybody.
When I first realized this I tried therapy but even cognitive conditioning therapy has a lot of analysis in it. When most people think therapy they get a picture in there mind of a person on the couch complaining about there Mother’s. ( Poor Mother’s get blamed for everything) However, cognitive conditioning is supposed to work with habits we do that if we recognize them we can create new habits. Now what does this have to do with pain you may ask? Well imagine this. One day you stub your toe and you react by grabbing the toe and jumping around on one foot. Now imagine you have a place in your room that you stub your toe almost daily on and you react the exact same way. Then imagine you are in a gym class and the gym teacher wants you to jump on one foot and imagine all of a sudden you are hit with an upsetting pain in your toe. What the heck you may ask? Well our brains are really efficient at putting things together. It is called linking. That means our brain actually programmed itself for pain. The trigger was the jumping up and down. It sounds weird but that’s what are brain is best at. Linking information for understanding. So cognitive conditioning helps untrain your pain response to jumping up and down by realizing it’s trigger and then working with the brain to desensitize the response until eventually when you jump there is no pain. Some desensitization is done by something called mindfulness. It is a meditation that allows you to be mindful to the issue and allow it through breathing and stillness to become less reactive. That means by recognizing the pain and allowing it to be what it is eventually the pain becomes less by default.
Now back to me and my story. This lady who called me was telling me about her program and I told her about my amazing healing experience. I get what I call pain storms. It is basically a storm of pain that starts at my spine and works it’s way to my shoulder ,neck, face , and arm. It is intense pain and it makes me either jerk, go paralyzed or both. It is terrifying to be a part of. Basically I scare little children. Four weeks ago I was expecting my psych nurse to come over so we could work on mindfulness. I had read that a big part of healing any disease is the removal of stress and I figured if it exists I will do it to help me heal. When my psych nurse arrived I was in the middle of an intense pain storm. I had been suffering it for fifteen minutes. I knew I could have called and cancelled but I didn’t want to. I wanted to practice the mindfulness in the midst of a storm to see just how well this could actually work. As expected, she was horrified by what she was seeing and she told me I should take my pain meds and go to bed. I asked to her to stay and do the mindfulness but she couldn’t even figure how I could do that with how much I was moving. We did it anyway. She did a two minute mindfulness guided meditation and she watched as I struggled to get my brain to focus on her and not the pain. We did the meditation three times. Each time the movements slowed down a bit more until eventually they were gone. We were both excited and so was my husband. I had a half belief but this sealed the deal.
After this experience I did the mindful meditation every time I even felt a hint of the pain storm. In the past few weeks I have had double Chemo again. During double Chemo I usually have about 5 pain storms a day and sometimes so bad I am not sure if I should call 911 because of the intensity. The other day I had one of what would usually be my trip to the hospital pain storms. My daughter was here with me and she was terrified. I took my pain meds but it didn’t touch the pain. I said we can try the meditation or we can call 911. She said lets try the meditation. When she started she was very fast but after as much couching as I could give her she slowed down and did the meditations over and over for almost an hour. She would say this is boring. I would say then call 911 and she would continue reading. Eventually I was fine. I skipped a hospital trip. I was elated but what also happened was my daughter slowed down and it stayed with her for a day after. She also gained confidence in helping me. It was a complete win win.
So to reiterate since I started the mindfulness and the Doctor that gave me hope I have been almost a different person. I am eating more and even feel a little hungry which hasn’t happened in 6 months or more. I have been able to walk unassisted and for the length of two rounds of our local shopping mall and do yoga. These are huge changes in a short time. This is also miraculous because technically the first doctor informed me that I was getting worse and I was in a bad stage of this Cancer. When you get the second reoccurence of mets your survival chances go down. Mine are already dismally low. It would mean I was on death row but I am showing every visible sign of getting better or even healing.
I plan on continuing with this journey and in particular seeing what this mindfulness training can do. The other things I have been doing is listening to inspirational speakers (Christian and Spiritualists), using laughter as medicine, practicing radical forgiveness and writing conversations with other people saying what I would rather hear from them as responses. All of these things are mind disciplines to change my brain about my illness and so far I have physical responses that show change. I am hoping to continue to see positive changes from these things and I am looking forward to God guiding me to the next step I need to learn for my healing. Once again thank you for letting me share. God Bless. Namaste 😊