Don’t Go it Alone

Now I don’t want to mislead that having a mastectomy was an easy decision for me. It definitely was not. There were tears, sadness, grief  but I was determined not to give one more day of my life to Breast Cancer than I had already given. I was done!

I also remember feeling rage that I had never experienced before. I was so angry at my body. I felt that it had betrayed me, not once, not twice but three times! Why? I had a very healthy, mostly organic diet, I exercised regularly. I was a good person.

The first two diagnosis, I felt that I could get through on my own but this time was different. I knew that I needed professional help this time. It was at this time that I found a wonderful place called The Cancer House of Hope. It is a facility set in a home like environment which offers care, hope, encouragement, counseling, and many other free services to cancer patients and their families.

One of the first people that I met here was Annie Knox. Annie is an extremely gifted Reiki Master who specializes in Therapeutic Energetic Reconnection (T.E.R.) I don’t really know what it all means but there were many a day that I would arrive for my appointment completely frazzled and place myself into Annie’s talented hands and an hour later I was a new person. She helped me tremendously dealing with my anxiety and helping me not only preparing for surgery but also dealing with post surgical pain plus the psychological effects that accompany a bilateral mastectomy. Thank you Annie. I am forever in your debt.

The second person I met was Beth Brett. She is a wonderful masseuse who is certified in Oncology massages. Your talented hands and expertise helped to greatly relieve the stress, anxiety and discomfort that I experienced before and after surgery. Thank you Beth.

Also at this time, I met a wonderful counselor by the name of Nancy Ferguson. She called me one night when I was at my absolute lowest. I had been on a crying jag and just couldn’t stop. How she decided to choose that night to reach out to me is still a mystery but I will be forever grateful that she did! Maybe my Guardian Angel was back!

Anyway she talked me down as they say. A great tip she gave me is to take a deep breath and tell yourself that in this very second you are okay. One second becomes 2 then 3. Before you know it a whole minute has passed and the an hour. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow or next week. Live in this moment. It’s not always an easy thing to do but it really works. Try it.

She also recommended a book titled “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston. It is a guide of mind-body techniques that will reduce anxiety and have a positive impact on healing. This book was an absolute game changer for me. It opened my mind to the fact that while I cannot control that I have cancer and that I needed to have a bilateral mastectomy, I could control  how I react to it. It was my Ah Ah moment.

The author states that research shows that patients that have an optimistic attitude going into surgery actually heal faster, require less pain medication and have a more positive result.

It also talks about something called “Healing Statements.” This are affirming, positive statements that your surgeon reads in the operating room before surgery.

Okay. What to write? One of my co workers and dear friend  kept saying to me “I just know you are going to heal beautifully.” That became my mantra, so my first statement was, “Following this operation you will feel comfortable and you will heal beautifully. You will be hungry, thirsty and be able to urinate easily.” I hate catheters! Following the operation: “Your surgery has gone very well.” Keep the statement simple and brief. Remember these people are very busy so they don’t have the time to be reading paragraphs. Both my surgeons were right on board. Dr Parikh in particular truly embraced it and began to call me his “Enlightened One.” I actually  gave him the book as a gift and he has passed it on to many other patients. That makes me very happy. Play it forward!

The only resistance that I got about the healing statement was from a young Nurse Anesthetist who didn’t want to commit his boss to reading the statements. Now 25 years ago I would have folded up the paper and put them back in my purse. That was the old me. The new me quickly said, “Then we have a problem, because this is very important to me and legally in our state you are required to comply if a patient request this.” He took the statements.

I also started to meditate every day and  while I had practice yoga for year I chose to do a restorative yoga practice. YouTube has hundreds of yoga and meditation videos and I could choose a different one every day. Both practices helped to calm and center me and gave me clarity.

Another good friend calls me a “Princess Warrior.” I embrace that. All of these things that I have mentioned above have given me the strength to face this surgery with courage.

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