If someone had asked me this question twenty seven years ago I would have thought they were mad. I remember sitting in a cancer support group when I was first diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. I was discussing the difficulties I was encountering with this life-threatening diagnoses, when a woman look straight at me and stated: “Having cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to me.” I thought, “You have to be crazy lady! I could not comprehend this statement from her. How could anyone even suggest that cancer is a blessing?” Today I understand her wisdom.
One of the important things I learned on my journey to the present is how to look after myself. We often put everyone and everything else before our own needs and yet there is a little part of us that silently questions “When is it MY time?” In our society, putting oneself first can be judged as selfish. However, investment in our basic needs is a vital element in maintaining health. Cancer evokes many emotions and one of those can be regret. Regretting missed opportunities. Regretting not pursuing dreams. Regretting not taking control of the direction of our lives.
It was important to me not to die with regrets so I had to do something about it. My time was decreed limited by the medics. I had to find ways to accelerate my desire to be fulfilled and satisfied with the decisions I made in life. Being diagnosed with cancer was like placing a magnifying glass over my whole life. Nothing was left unexplored and I made rapid changes in response to the news that I only had two months to two years to live.
My questioning of myself began. Where do I start to make changes? How do I achieve them? How do I find the resources to support me through this? These were only a few of the quandaries I contemplated.
Nutrition was an easy one. I booked myself into a naturopath who skilfully worked out which foods were best for me. Healthy, live foods which gave a very strong message to my body that I wanted to live. Foods that gave it the perfect building blocks to rejuvenate, regenerate and repair the damage that I had done to myself over the years. There was never any sense of self-blame that I had done anything wrong, just a fleeting observation that I had not previously educated myself on the powerful impact of various foods upon the human body - with both a positive and negative influence. (More page 133 - My Answer to Cancer.)
So the invitation to change my diet was accepted easily without any hesitation. My body responded quickly to being fueled with optimum nutrition, and rewarded me with more energy and a very deep sense of well-being. This is a choice that everyone, in sickness and health, makes many times in a day. It is important to be aware of consequences, remembering the quote ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, so listen to your body and respond appropriately. Look at your food and ask the question “Is this food life-giving or life-taking”. You will intuitively know the answer.
Emotional responses in families can be passed down through the generations without ever being questioned. Some families hold emotions in, some explode, some express them vocally and these varying expressions can also be linked to the body-mind connection and their consequences. In my family, emotions were held in, buried and very rarely expressed, so when I encountered stressful and confronting situations, I did not have useful strategies or skills to safely express the feelings I was experiencing. Instead I buried them deep inside and trapped them in, like a pressure cooker, until one day I couldn’t contain this negative energy anymore and my world fell apart. (More page 135 - My Answer to Cancer.)
Fortunately I realised what I had been doing, and I knew I had to find a new way of dealing with stress and anxiety. After much searching, I discovered that meditation was the key for me to unlock the vault deep in my mind and access the incredible power within. This allowed me to make helpful, insightful choices and create healthy, positive responses to stressful situations which confronted me.
One of my big aha moments was when I realised that we exist in a world of duality: ying-yang, hot-cold, up-down, night-day, war-peace and fear-love. I realised that I had subconsciously focused my mind on fear which resulted in me living a restricted life. Cancer gave me the invitation to change this perception. I chose to re-train my mind to look for the love and peace in situations which led me to a sense of empowerment and choice. My life had to change drastically and I was the only one with the control to do so. The driving engine was my mind. I decided then and there that my life was going to be an adventure and filled with wonderful experiences – whatever happened to me. I programmed my mind to seek constructive and alternative ways of perceiving and responding to uncomfortable situations.
To me, reiki was an incredible vehicle to instigate change. It opened my heart and mind to a whole new world. Yes, I was very sceptical at first, but the more I worked with energy, the more convinced I became of unseen forces in this world. I believe in the unseen influence of gravity when I drop something, but I can’t actually see gravity. I can’t see wind, but I can feel its effects and see how it blows trees back and forth and rolls leaves along the ground. I can’t see radio waves, but expect my radio and TV to work when I turn them on. So why wouldn’t I trust in a force called reiki. Millions of people have now encountered this gentle healing modality, which for me, changed just about everything in my life. (More page 32 - My Answer to Cancer.)
So is cancer an invitation to change? It certainly was for me and can be for anyone else who decides to alter their perception of disease. It is most certainly something I would not wish upon anyone, but what if disease is simply a messenger who is trying to get your attention. If not acknowledged, it knocks louder and louder with the message that something must change! That something in the body, mind or emotions is out of balance. It may be bringing you an awareness of toxic food, thoughts, emotions or relationships which need to be addressed, and have been ignored or buried far too long.
I will leave you with two questions to contemplate:
- Are you living the life you want and deserve?
- If not, is there anything you can change in your life before life invites you to change?