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Archive for the ‘Coping With Cancer’ Category

As you may remember from this post, I set an intention to work through the Healing Journey Program (as far as it is available for download) and report back here on my progress. The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that it is much more than one week since I did that. Knowing myself, I put out a request for a buddy to keep me accountable and through the Healing Journey newsletter I got my wish, so then there were no more excuses.
I’ve now completed the first week of the program and so it’s time to let you know my thoughts. (more…)

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When cancer appears, our identity as friends or family members can change – though becoming a carer or just in our relationships due to stress and worry. But what about when the person who has cancer seems to change – maybe so much that you hardly recognise them?
I already talked about loss of a role by which we define ourselves (through becoming a carer) here. This is obviously also an issue for those dealing with their own cancer – either through temporary leave or through having to give up a job or role. This can have an additional effect on someone as well as their feelings and fears over the illness. (more…)

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Cancer Fighting Strategies

On this blog our focus is on the friends and family of those who have cancer – their problems and concerns, how they are affected, and how they can help both themselves and their loved ones. Often for friends and family their top concern is how will the person with cancer heal? Whilst healing cancer is not your job, it is understandable that you would want to be aware of the best cancer resources.

Information on the internet can be bewildering, so here is our selection of some resources which may help with support for the person fighting cancer. (more…)

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Mind Healing?

The Healing Journey Program was presented at the NCCSHG conference by its creator Alastair Cunningham and Petra Griffiths, who heads the program in the UK.

The Healing Journey is based on the premise that healing can take place from outside (conventional medicine and most complementary and alternative practices) and from inside (psychological and spiritual change and self-healing). Both of these are valid and may well be necessary, but they can also work in harmony. Evidence also shows that quality of life improves when people work on that inner healing. This is taking an active approach to a cancer diagnosis in yourself or another – rather than the passive approach of leaving it all up to the doctors.

The Healing Journey Program itself has been used extensively in Canada for over 25 years, and refined using research and feedback into a 5-level program where participants progress to the level they wish, with each level going deeper into the mind and spiritual aspects of being. The program is open to those who have or had cancer, and their friends and family.

A UK edition of The Healing Journey: Overcoming the Crisis of Cancer book is now available, and I will be reading this and reviewing it in due course. As a healing journey is appropriate for everyone, not just those who are ill, I’ve also decided to work through the programme myself and report back here how I get along. (I am always very conscious that dealing with, thinking and writing about cancer on a day-to-day basis takes some managing on an emotional level so I definitely have something to gain) Both the Healing Journey UK and original Healing Journey websites have access to workbooks and audios to make that possible. What would make things even better would be to have someone to share the journey with, so if anyone would like to join me in self-study and keep in touch by email as to how we are doing, then please do get in touch.

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Self esteem. How much of your self-belief comes from your role in life? For many it is a great deal, with people gaining energy and confidence from their job, or their roles as a homemaker, parent or volunteer. What happens then when suddenly you have the role of carer thrust upon you due to a loved one’s cancer?
This is one of the aspects of ‘Who Am I?’ that I wanted to look at as a result of attending the NCCSHG conference.
You might still be working, but be less able to give full attention to your role due to distractions or worries. Or you may find you are a full-time carer. You might excel at your caring role, or feel that you are poorly suited to it but have no choice. Either way, being a carer is not who you are it is what you are doing – an important difference.
This is why this year’s Carers Week had the theme of ‘A Life Of My Own’. Only by continuing to pursue other interests, by following what matters to you (yes, I know the caring matters, but other things can too), can you maintain a sense of yourself. That sense of yourself helps you cope with the demands of this role, and helps you build into the future when that role is no longer needed.
On top of this, you could go further still and take the path to even greater self-awareness. This is where what defines who you are comes from within rather than being based on activities and interests. This is an option I will be exploring more over the summer.
‘Who Am I?’ is such an interesting question to ask yourself!

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Last year when I attended the NCCSHG conference, I was invited to lead a workshop, and was glad to do so. Not surprisingly I talked about Life in the Cancer Fallout Zone, and on the form there were three workshop slots listed. As I didn’t mind when I gave the workshop I ticked all 3 boxes – and ended up running the workshop 3 times! Now, I didn’t mind this and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with each set of participants, but it was rather tiring!
Fast forward to 2010 and I was again asked if I would like to lead a workshop. This time, though, I knew I was only going to be there for one workshop session, so I said no. Instead I decided to do something for myself – to attend a workshop. I went to learn a little more about crystals and particularly pendulums – and it gave me a real boost before I set off on the long drive home to Dorset. The drive went well and I arrived home in good spirits. Compare that to how I might have felt had I been ‘working’ up until I left the conference.
When someone in the family has cancer, it can seem really radical to do something for yourself. But it can also do a lot of good. Sometimes it’s extra hard because it means saying no to someone or something – as I did. What I found was that although I didn’t need to I explained that I was taking care of myself – and got a really positive response.
There are so many demands in life that sometimes you end up with no time to call your own. You may even want to do all the things you are asked to do, or invited to attend. But maybe next time before you say ‘yes’ automatically you should think about what else is already happening. You may want to do each thing, but do you really want to do all of them? And if saying yes really means saying no to doing something for yourself then maybe a gentle ‘I’d love to, but I’m afraid I can’t’ would enable you to be more supportive in the long run.
PS It won’t make you a selfish person!

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Last year I attended the National Conference of Cancer Self-Help Groups (NCCSHG for short) cancer conference, and in doing so I missed my sons’ school fete day. This year they clashed again and the boys came first, but I was still able to go to the cancer conference 2010 for one day – dashing up to Manchester and visiting family as well!
Even though I was only at the conference for a short time, it felt very different from last year. I already knew where to go, recognised some faces (and some remembered me too), and felt altogether more relaxed. I guess I’m like most people – I prefer places and people I know. But if I hadn’t been prepared to attend last year for the first time then I would have been missing out, as this is a truly excellent event.
I’ll be reporting back my impressions and comments on the sections of the conference I did take part in over the next several weeks – in fact it may take the whole summer as there is so much to think about!
My first impression though is that for me there was a theme to the conference. It wasn’t an official theme, just something that came up a few times and meant something to me. The theme was ‘Who Am I?’
This is an issue that can come up for someone with cancer as their world and self-image is rocked – and this has a knock-on effect for everyone around them. It is an issue for friends and family as their role alters, sometimes dramatically if they are thrust into a caring role. I’ll be looking at these issues in more depth in future posts, but for now I would be interested to hear your stories. How was your self-image affected by cancer diagnosis or treatments? Was it someone else who felt all at sea and that affected you? Please share your story as a response to this post, or feel free to email me.

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