Several years ago I watched a video in which a woman described how she had learned to love her cancer and then it went away. I’ve thought about that a lot and tried to embrace the paradox. If I love my cancer for the purpose of making it go away, can that really be love? I do still want to eliminate it, and I also want to love it because it is part of me.
I’ve heard people say they won’t use the phrase, “my cancer,” because they don’t accept it as theirs. They say “the cancer.” That has never felt right to me. It is part of me and I think I can exercise more control if I own it. It is in my body and it is mine. I don’t think it is useful to deny a part of my body.
If I accept it as part of my body, it is easier to love. When I was first diagnosed, I felt betrayed by my body and was angry at it. I no longer think my body betrayed me. I think my body did (and continues to do) the best it could to deal with the toxins from the environment, from my lifestyle, my emotions, my thoughts, etc.
In the article Dr. Finkelstein wrote in our recent postal newsletter, called “Loving Your Body,” he says that our resentment and anger toward our cancer can trigger an inflammatory response which, “science shows, supports its existence.” So if I am fighting my cancer and trying to kill it, I may also be supporting its existence with my negative emotions.
He goes on to say, “Paradoxically, by bathing our tumor with love, we activate an innate healing response which has more power to usher it away.” He talks about “loving your body, including your tumor, in such a way that you pull yourself out of fight or flight, fear, anxiety, and angry states, into harmony, health, and healing.”
I have seen the silver lining in my cancer for many years and feel grateful for the path my life has taken because of having cancer. I have had 22 years of a career that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t have cancer. Through Healing Journeys, I have done meaningful work and have met many amazing people. Cancer has given me a rich and exciting life.
Can I be grateful and love it and still want it to go away? I have had conversations with my cancer, thanking it for coming, and letting it know that we’re in this together. If it progresses, it will be killing itself too. I’ve asked it to please back off and let us both live. Maybe it’s not necessary for it to leave altogether. We have lived together for 27 years now and I’m grateful for still being alive and feeling well.
Deep in my heart, I do still want it to leave altogether. I am looking forward to attending Dr. Finkelstein’s workshop in Seattle on July 30th, called “Loving Your Body,” to learn to be more at peace with this paradox (the same workshop will also be in Northern California in September).
I planned this workshop because I feel like I need it. I know not everyone can spend the money or the time to attend a full day workshop. I also planned a free program the evening before, giving more of you an opportunity to experience Dr. Finkelstein. As an added bonus, the program will also include a performance of Jonna’s Body, Please Hold. We are calling the evening a mini Cancer as a Turning Point, From Surviving to Thriving™ conference.
Although a two-hour program is more affordable for us than a one or two-day conference, we still need your help to cover the expenses of these free evening programs, in Seattle in July and in Northern California in September. You can make a donation easily and securely here, or use the envelope that came with your postal newsletter to send us your support. And if you live in the Northwest, please join us. Thank you!
In the Spirit of Healing,
Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director