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Healing Emotions Hurt More Than The Physical Wounds

Healing Emotions Hurt More Than The Physical Wounds

How to come to terms with the emotions of cancer

There are several reasons that cancer is associated with strong emotions. Cancer is an evocative word, which has traditionally referenced a deadly disease. Yet this doesn’t change the fact it is much harder to heal the emotions of cancer, more often than the physical wounds.

What I know to be true, is that upon diagnosis, there is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty thrown in your face. Your mortality is slapped down in front of you. There is an immediate fear of the future, fear of the unknown and fear of losing control.

I still vividly remember the Saturday morning my breast surgeon delivered the news of my pathology results. I had been able to get myself out of my hospital bed unassisted. It physically hurt like hell, but once I got comfy in the upright chair I was able to settle. The bed was for sick people, I didn’t perceive myself sick then. I was simply recovering from mammoth surgery.

When my surgeon sat at the end of my hospital bed, her face was serious and I knew something was wrong. You know that dread you feel watching a suspense movie? You experience that sensation when you know instinctively something is coming and can’t prepare for it?

She informed me that the results were significantly scarier, from what the original scanning and biopsy had shown. That was one of several days the floor disappeared and I felt like Alice falling down the hole.

I allowed myself to sit in the vulnerable

Hysterical tears don’t even come close to describing everything I felt and experienced that day. Hot mess doesn’t either. But I did both of those things and everything in between. Panic. Terror. Overthinking. Sadness. Worry. Anxiety. I experienced all of it, smothered by it in fact.

There was little resilience left after surgery earlier that week to do anything but cry. At that moment I felt completed defeated. In those conversation moments, my physical pain didn’t even rate. But I was gutted emotionally.

I can now reflect on that horrible day, understanding the true power of the fear of the unknown. It’s crippling and leaves you feeling nothing but raw, extremely vulnerable and very isolated.

The healing I’ve done on myself since has shown me that with patience and the loving support of friends and family, I have turned that raw into MY ROAR!

Even now, as broken as you may feel, you are still so strong. There’s something to be said for how you hold yourself together and keep moving, even though you feel like shattering. Don’t stop! This is your healing. It doesn’t have to be pretty or graceful. You just have to keep going. — Unknown

It did, in fact, take the promised eight weeks to recover from that mammoth reconstructive surgery. In hindsight that was the easy part. The hardest part was dealing with the resultant PTSD emotions that arose from a traumatic biopsy experience.

I had buried myself inside the physical recovery from surgery with very little time to deal with the magnitude of why I had surgery and my diagnosis in the first place.

The subsequent emotional feels that are incorporated deeply with diagnosis, and were often expressed as feelings like dismal failure and depression. Feelings of perpetual entrapment ensued, both physically and mentally.

 

Identifying dark places

That was a dark hole, which took some intense therapy to work through. With hindsight, I can see exposing the darkness of those negative emotions with external assistance, allowed me to openly explore all the feelings as the gift it was. Healing those emotions was so much more intense and way more challenging than healing from breast cancer surgery.

The talking therapy was the trick. I didn’t avoid it, I couldn’t, for that messy bitch of emotions slapped me every day. I didn’t process having cancer at the time of diagnosis. I was too busy being shuffled between appointments, having surgery and learning to walk again.

The emotional bastard bit me as I started chemo. The feels oozed out with my energy as the magic medicine flooded into my body. This was the time that my strong facade faded. And once again I was back to feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable.

 

The talking therapist supported me to gently explore the maze within and find myself again. The talking granted permission to the floodgates to open, which had been bolted tight. Those gates had held everything inside. It was everything inside that robbed me of my energy to recover physically. 

 

As soon as I wrote in my journal or purged with my therapist the cascading avalanche of all my stuff spilled out. There was a release. It was those moments of releasing the emotional that granted permission for the physical to relax and heal.

A friend shared the following quote with me during these darker days. The message was received. Be kind to self. Put self first. Do what it takes to heal. So I did.

I know you are hurting — really bad. I will not tell you to love yourself or smile, but to keep surviving, to get through this day, to eat whatever you want and not feel guilt. I will not tell you to stay in bed for a week, a month or a year if that is what your soul needs. I will remind you that you are still beautiful, even when you are dressed in all the grief. — Rune Lazuli

The emotional roller coaster of cancer is expected and very normal. It’s our human response to a stressful situation. The various things we feel are simply exaggerated because there is a societal perception that we are fighting for our lives.

 

I worked with a therapist

With the support of my therapist, I dug deeper into the abyss of the connective tissue within the wounds I now wore. Initially, those new lines caused much shame and embarrassment.

 

I openly explored my old wounds

I openly explored what my breasts had meant to me as an individual, a woman, a girl, an infant, and mother. I healed more mother wounds, and in doing so in poured an immense and deeply felt gratitude for my feminine.

 

I worked through the physical loss

I worked through what it meant to have nipples, and the grief I felt when I lost one. I was forced to process the new bumps to my milky white chest landscape.

 

I worked through the tears

I worked through months of crying every time I looked at my new chest landscape. The red scarring, the skin graft, the puckered skin and the limited range of motion made the emotions raw. It was this rawness that slowed the physical recovery. I was looking too closely at physical wounds, spending all my energy literally trying to fix them. Trying to control the uncontrollable.

From every wound, there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says “I survived” — Ft Craig Scott’’

What I’ve learnt is the depth that connective tissue stores emotional trauma. It stores a negative outlook. The tissue stores the false expectations we think we need. The stretch of the tissue holds onto the need to control and keeps you in a state of physical stuck and emotional disbelief. This equates to non-acceptance and inability to flow physically and mentally.

Now that I am embracing my role as a patient it’s getting easier to see those new landscape lines. I’ve researched tattoo designs, and the meaning of the symbol I’ve learnt that the ancient Amazon Warrior amputated her right breast in order to shoot her arrow strong and true.

The lesson learnt and accepted is that I now point true north — metaphorically, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Final words

 

If you find yourself, a friend or relative, on the cancer rollercoaster, and the likelihood is that someone in your life will be affected at some time, I offer you this. We are gifted challenges, not to endure but to experience. These challenges which arise enable us to explore more of self. These challenges gift us the chance to choose a mindset to focus on what is in our control and surrender to that which is not.

The more we can soften our emotional and mental perspective, the faster and more at peace our physical vessel will respond.

 

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Wellness Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

How To Stop Making Excuses And Start Living Your Best Life

How To Stop Making Excuses And Start Living Your Best Life

How To Take Charge of Your Stuff

 

How you perceive these current global circumstances is a mindset choice.

  • I don’t have support.
  • I don’t have equipment or resources to achieve my goal
  • I don’t know the best way
  • I’m too old or young, to do what I want
  • I’m too busy to do what I want.
  • I’m too tired.
  • I’m too sore, too much pain or simply not feeling the vibe of wanting to do what I want.

Recognise the excuses are no valid, they aren’t you. They are conjured and fabricated from your self-doubt. The doubt arises from the fear that you may fail, miss out, be left behind, fear to be considered yourself unworthy, fear of feeling not good enough, fear the future, uncertainty or unknown.

Our truth is our capacity and commitment to rise above the experience and show the world who we really are, despite the fears of showing the world our true self.

And here’s the catch. You have to choose that outcome. You have to want your truth more than you avoid fear.

Starting your day with a positive intention-based mindset sets you up for success. Being aware of any negative dialogue you have during the day and reframing a negative thought, like a judgement, into something positive allows you to drag the energy of the excuse (and it’s associated behavioural pattern) into the consciousness to be addressed.

Being happy is like a savings account at the bank. It takes regular deposits into the account to make it grow, to evolve the habit and turn things around.

This commitment to self means no more cheating the rules, calling yourself on the laziness, and basically being committed enough to self to just do the life you want, over and over until it becomes the new habit of doing you.

Summary

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland

About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, self-confessed laughaholic, and now Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

All You Can Ever Do Is Your Best

All You Can Ever Do Is Your Best

I was trolling through my LinkedIn newsfeed this morning and I stumbled across something that stopped me in my tracts by The Female Lead. This caption caught my eye. “Someone needs to see this today.

Talk about a slap upside the head! This resonated viscerally for me.

I’m home-schooling a hormonal monster today that has lost her homework due to a ‘saving’ issue with a word document.

There’s been a frustration tantrum, and everyone is exhausted. It’s just ticked over 9 o’clock, and frankly, I’m ready to exorcise demons from the house or go back to bed.

Today feels like I’m participating in a Tough Mudder race, but I didn’t sign up for the competition!

This article I stumbled across resonated because there is just so much societal pressure these days to get it right. To be the perfect woman or man, wife/husband, and mother/father. I am finding this is especially so during the lockdown. And like so many working parents like myself, who have added home-schooling to their already full task list, there has to be a breaking point somewhere.

Just like this post, there are times when I am happy to admit I have piled various leftovers from multiple previous meals, onto the plate and called it dinner.

Or I’ve cooked up some noodles and padded out leftovers.

Or I’ve made a gravy, mixed it with the leftover roast, dished the new invention into macaroon dishes with puff pastry on top and called it ‘pot pie’.

Tada!

There is one exception between myself and the quoted mother above. I choose not to feel guilt for the picnic or dishing up leftovers. I just don’t have the energy for that bullshit.

I’ll admit, our family has pretended we are at a fancy restaurant and had little dishes of what is left in the fridge. We all got a taste but it wasn’t enough for a meal. So what do you do? You pad it out with whatever else you have! You make do. You have to otherwise food goes to waste or you end up purchasing takeout which does you no real favours.

In my household, we are also known for using the picnic tray a lot. We grab little serving dishes (picked just for the occasion) and organise slithers of this and slices of that with some GF crackers and call it a meal. This is actually a favourite lazy Sunday afternoon when it’s raining outside and we come together to watch a movie.

At the end of the day, I am ok with this. Everyone gets fed. End of story.

This incessant pressure applied through our evolved society sets a false expectation that you have to be the perfect parent and dish up cordon bleu every time. This is utter bollicks and I call BS on it all.

On a good week, when I have scheduled the time, I tend to meal plan out the future week. I also do the majority of cooking and food prep then. This system works.

But there are times it doesn’t for whatever reason, and those weeks are stressful and hurried at mealtime. So you do the best you can. I place the priority on food in mouths rather than not eating.

Given I tend to only purchase healthy food options, my family members can get as creative as they want on those days that I have run out of steam. I have learnt, and I’m getting better at the implementation of waving the white flag of surrender to the mother role and telling my family — today I’m not 100%.

Those are the days that I shelf the guilt and exile myself to the couch to rest. This is probably one of the best things which have happened to me during breast cancer treatment and lockdown — voicing externally to those around me that my batteries are in need of a recharge. I give myself permission to stop.

I no longer see this pause as a failure, or that I’m not good enough. I no longer perceive the act of stopping as not meeting the position description of ‘mother’. I now choose to see this as a gift to self.

Don’t ever think you have to compete with the external image of the ‘perfect plate’ for every single meal – it’s just not real and never will be. It is simply a marketing illusion designed to make you feel bad unless you’re purchasing a certain product.

Just do your best.

And when those picnic moments come along to enjoy your kids’ faces who think they are getting a treat and pat yourself on the back that you got them fed.

Its time to slow down and get out of our heads — you know that space where we overthink and over analyse. Give yourself a treat and step into our heart space where all the feels are. Kick back and charge the battery up.

You can only do your best today and continue to strive to stretch your best tomorrow (if you have the energy to do so)!