I first worked in the UK in 1993 at what was then the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. I was to return many times over the years ahead giving practitioner trainings and patient workshops. I was delighted to work with and present for the London Breast Cancer Haven and the Helen Rollason Foundation in Essex.
I returned to the UK ten years later in 2003 following surgery in the Netherlands that is discussed in this podcast. I presented the Penny Brohn Memorial lecture where I met Prof Karol Sikora who was then Professor of Cancer Medicine at the Imperial College London. The same year, during my convalescence, I re-edited and re-published my book for women with breast cancer – Women of Silence – The Emotional Healing of Breast Cancer – which has remained in demand ever since.
Just before I had to leave the UK to return to Australia in 2004, Professor Sikora offered me a position in his Harley Street practice. It was one of those potentially life-changing moments; but I had to pass it by as family needs called me back home to Australia in 2004.
As host and Creator of Navigating the Cancer Maze Australia and a similar show formerly hosted at Voice America; it is always good to remember what it is like in the shoes of the interviewee.
The interview you will hear describes my own journey through illness and 22 surgical procedures. There are no dress rehearsals for suddenly being diagnosed with a chronic illness and if one doesn’t have knowledge and strategies in place that have been sculpted by the life already lived; healing and recovery becomes an even bigger challenge.
After a surprise marriage separation that stunned and shocked me; I experienced a totally prolapsed uterus. The bottom literally fell out of my life within a few days and I became a surgical patient. Post-surgical complications led to rectal and partial bladder paralysis. At least I was fortunate when trauma and then repeated trauma struck; that my tenacity to survive and thrive was activated and not thwarted although I became very ill very quickly.
I have a dogged personality and as my condition worsened, over several years I was not complacent and kept searching for a solution despite life and outcome being a very gloomy possibility.
This is the place where often the battle with illness or cancer is won or lost. But it is not that simple!
Due to previous training over decades, when I became the patient, I was able to recognise and balance my need for solid strategies I had learned previously; what we might call a mind-body approach. However, Mind-Body medicine has become rather a loose term, implying that just because you think positively, meditate, change your lifestyle, forgive everyone who has harmed you and do the “right” things etc; that somehow your disease or condition will suddenly “get it” and with new found understanding and personal work – you will become well again. Not so!
This is the same fallacy taught by many schools of thought in cancer healing and recovery. Many cancer patients believe they can make themselves cancer resistant and because of the massive changes and sacrifices they have made, that the cancer will simply go away!
Thanks to the BBC’s terrific interviewer, John Darvall, this interview explores the real and authentic nature of healing and recovery. One needs to remember that Holistic medicine has a “hole” in it if smart conventional medicine is not included.
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