fbpx
Breast Cancer Is The Time To Gather Your Tribe

Breast Cancer Is The Time To Gather Your Tribe

Breast cancer is challenging enough, there’s no need to do it alone. No one needs to be that strong.

Have you got a tribe? A girl posse if you will? I do and I’m the luckiest girl in the world with the love they have gifted me during my breast cancer chapter. Without them, I know I would not have made it. It’s a strong statement, but that’s my raw truth.

I know I needed them when I was initially diagnosed. I needed them when I had multiple surgeries. I reached out in tears when I received my pathology news. My tribe caught me before I hit the floor and held me until I could stand on my own again. 

My tribe triple dog dared me to dress up and make chemotherapy my bitch (which I totally did!). And together we have a big enough collection of titty jokes for me to do stand up comedy.

MY tribe was and continues to be, a sacred circle of trust, love and laughter, and unconditional love. It’s a space that awakened my true warrior spirit. Women are incredibly powerful in their own power, but when they gather, something magical happens when they combine their energies

Reaching out for comfort and support is vital when you’re feeling too many feels during a personal crisis such as breast cancer. This is a time when overwhelm can set in, and that bullshit gets in the way of connecting to your intuition. Knowing what you innately need (in terms of deciding your treatment), when you need it, and choosing who will provide that all require you to have your wits intact, not shattered in pieces on the floor. 

Without a connection to your gut instinct, you may struggle to make sense of the diagnosis, or clearly decide with your full heart knowing of your treatment. Furthermore, your recuperation to treatment may be hindered as you hang onto to unwanted or unresolved emotional stress.

Never risk blindly stepping along a pathway navigating a crisis, and be solely rely on the advice by an external party. By all means, gather your medical teams (and there will be multiple parties), and listen to their recommended actions and reasons behind that. But make your decisions always being true to your gut instinct. 

I’ll happily talk to anyone who wants to about my breast cancer experience. I strongly feel that open dialogue is critical to demystify the array of fears associated with the disease and it’s treatment. I know the conversations I had with my posse were emotionally charged, as we dissected scientific-based facts and how that related to my cancer now and my long term prognosis with or without treatment. Some of these conversations even prompted some of my friends to finally go and have their initial screening mammograms.

I recently watched a webcast presentation by Breast Cancer Network Australia which included very wise advice by Breast Cancer Oncology surgeon Miss Carolyn Baker:

  • every person’s breast cancer experience is unique and different;
  • be careful of the avalanche of war stories of other people’s experiences
  • seek an individualised care plan
  • understand the pathology of your cancer which will set the tone of your treatment — grade, size, receptors, and nodes must be in your discussions
  • age, breast size, general fitness all determine the best mode of care by your team (multiple modalities incorporating various treatments)

Every breast cancer experience, in my opinion, is an enormous opportunity to learn and refine so much about yourself. It’s also a gift to solidify the bonds of friendship and your tribe. Whilst there are proven treatment protocols for various stages of your cancer, with the loving support from my tribe, I decided to drop the cancer fight and embrace it — I made my experience my own. 

I am a firm believer, your cancer is not your journey. It is an experience. There is no way I will allow cancer to dictate how I live my life. If detected early enough, the survival rates are exceptional with varieties of treatment options available. 

Having a posse to hold space and listen whilst you verbally purge is exactly like going to group therapy. Do you feel renewed when you gather? You know what I mean – do you laugh so hard that your ribs and jaw ache as you talk to each other?

Can you share your deepest secrets and still be supported? Do you all take turns sharing your fears and worries, and talking out options and solutions?

Do you gather often to share yourselves and get stuff off your chest? Ahem, pun not intended but worthy of a snoopy snigger nonetheless.

For me having a posse during this shit festival called breast cancer was soul-saving. 

My posse collectively lifted me up and held me high to the rising sun every time I felt low. Energetic medicine is miraculous like that. And even if you don’t believe in it just think of someone you love who isn’t home — does your love for them change? No. Do they feel your love regardless of where they are? Yes.

My posse hugged me (even remotely), made me laugh and cried alongside of me when I needed it the most. I never felt alone. We did this together. I am endlessly grateful for their constant presence.

I was never judged, only loved unconditionally. This is the gift of gathering your tribe. When women come together we form an unspoken union, a sacred space if you will.

I pulled together those people in my life that I could trust unconditionally, who would honour my secrets, hold me up, not gossip and offer me, love, in their own unique way. 

The reward for that trust I have been gifted a space so sacred that I could enable a self-healing so powerful that I could reinvent myself.

Here are my tips for when to gather your tribe! 

Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

A cancer diagnosis is a button pusher. No doubt about it, this news is a life changer for you as the patient and can induce terror in those around you. Everything you thought life was going to be is destroyed at that moment, at best it is put on hold. Expectations of how life was going to be are decimated.

To deal with the shock of diagnosis you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel all the feels, at your pace and in your way. Don’t hold anything in. 

Allow yourself to ask for help. And make this time about your healing.

Accept there may be gossip

It’s human nature that people will talk. They’ll talk behind your back. They’ll talk about your diagnosis, your treatment, even your hair loss!

Sometimes people talk about your stuff behind your back because they are afraid to talk to you. They are afraid for you. They are afraid of getting cancer themselves. 

Cancer is like cooties, it’s not catching but people don’t want to be associated with bald eagles! My rule of thumb is what people say about me is none of my business. They are entitled to opinions, and to vent or share their concerns.

My inner circle of friends speak to my face. We talk about everything and anything. We take it in turns going around the table when we do talk. That’s what friendship is all about. 

Limit your communications

I used a private messenger chat forum via Facebook to communicate with my tribe. It meant I only had to provide an update once, rather than repeat bad news over and over.

My tribe included persons of trust in all aspects of my life. This way if I was out anywhere at an event or activity, I knew there’d be a posse member somewhere who I could lean on to simply walk, or run interference from nosy bastards.

Share info from your specialist 

Your medical team are likely to throw a tonne of information at you. Share this literature and links, like that at BCNA, with your posse, so that you are all on the same knowledge page. It does make for great open conversation where you can openly debate science, facts and your emotional response.

Your job is to digest the knowledge you have cancer. Your friends have the job of holding space whilst you do that.

Have a communal calendar 

Let your posse know when the big appointments are coming up. That way you have an entire tribe manifesting abundance in your favour. Additionally, you create the potential for offers from your tribe to give you lifts, cook meals, babysit kids, clean, and even shop for you.

Accept help when it is offered

After my mastectomy-reconstruction surgery, I had 145cm of suture line healing. It was difficult to stand for weeks. My whole body was battered and new. It was difficult to cook and clean. So when friends offered a meal to mop I begrudgingly accepted. 

One of my friends said this to me. “Honey you are always the first to offer, please let me love you by cooking a meal or doing this one little thing. I can’t do anything else and feel helpless so let me do this little thing“.

I couldn’t argue with that and had to stick my ego in the closet! Believe it or not, your tribe make offers to help you because this is their way of showing you they love you!

Have firm boundaries 

I was very strategic with who I invited into the messenger group and shared details with. There were representatives from all aspects of my life. These friends all knew they were in a circle of trust, and respected the confidentiality I had shared with them.

These people were able to share vital news within my networks on my behalf. My tribe fielded questions and nipped gossip in the bud. They were protective and loving, and this created space for me to focus on my healing. I was so blessed to be held in such a special space of loving support.

Know Who To Tell & Trust?

There is nothing worse than having to discuss and re-tell your cancer story over and over again. There’s only a number of critical people in your life that need to know the news immediately. Your partner and your kids. That’s it. You may choose to only tell this group and leave everyone else guessing.

Final Words

A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying, and not a chapter of your life that needs or should be done alone. No one needs to be that strong. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable, share the emotional load, and be supported strengthens your relationships.

Allowing yourself to be part of a tribe means you get to surround yourself with love and concentrate on healing. My wish for you is that you have a powerful posse too who can conjure a sacred circle if you are ever in need. 

My Tribal Prayer
May my tribe always shine light upon you to find your own light.
May you never feel alone and always supported.
May your posse be filled with abundant love xxx

Resources & References:

Breast Cancer Network Australia Webcast –

Just diagnosed: what’s next?

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.’ 

Expectations Are the Biggest Form of Self-Sabotage

Expectations Are the Biggest Form of Self-Sabotage

We often invest in daydreaming but aren’t really aware of what we are doing to ourselves when the dreams aren’t fulfilled.

We don’t realise the full impact of having an expectation until it’s not met. We often invest in daydreaming but aren’t really aware of what we are doing to ourselves when the dreams arent fulfilled.

Expectations are a funny thing. Defined as “a belief that something will happen or be the case,” they are often formulated from a mental energy-based ‘misperception.’ They can be linked with our ‘intention setting,’ but they aren’t always positive, and they’re often unrealistic.

When they are unreasonable for us, they can be downright destructive in terms of the thought processes we use to punish ourselves when we perceive we have failed.

This can be demonstrated when a couple learn that they are pregnant. The expectation is that pregnancy will be a magical glowing experience — go to the hospital and come home with a baby. Life will be amazing. And yes, we all want this as the outcome. However, it’s not always the case.

Some pregnancies don’t proceed after 12 weeks, some women feel nauseated the entire pregnancy, or lose their hair, or become incontinent, or get hemorrhoids, have horrific birth experiences. Some women even experience all of this. Some babies are stillborn. Some babies were expected to be boys and yet born girls.

Where the heck is the rosy picture of pregnancy then?

Isn’t it interesting, how quickly your brain went from pregnancy to expectation of seeing the mother hold the newborn? That’s how subtle an expectation can affect us.

The subliminal perceptions that are associated with outcomes are very interesting. While you want to go straight to an easy and nice outcome, there’s often no pausing by the brain to assess anything alternative.

It is this point that we establish an anchor point for negative perceptions and links to future failures.

Travis Bradberry talks about expectations in terms of goal setting and suggests it’s a good thing to have positive expectations when working towards your goals. I happen to disagree on one level in relation to this.

Why?

Because to focus on the expected outcome without making any connection to the emotional juice — your feelings — means that you’ll lose motivation, get mindset wobbles, and ultimately fall off the moving forward wagon.

Bradberry talks about the following unrealistic expectations that bring you undone, and I find myself often supporting clients within my clinical practice in defusing negative emotions associated with these:

  • Life should be fair
  • Opportunities should fall into my lap
  • Everyone should like me
  • People should agree with me
  • People should know what I am saying
  • I’m going to fail
  • Things will make me happy
  • I can change him/her

Christine Hassler has the right idea and looks at flipping expectation on its head so you turn potential negatives into positives with a couple of hot tips. I would add to the goal-setting process, that you take the time to actually understand your emotions which motivate you and drive you to want success.

For it is this understanding which will support you to pick yourself up from any future perception of failure and remind self of the ultimate goal — to feel happiness and joy.

After all, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

1. Have A Dream.

 Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have dreams. We need something to drive our motivation and reason to live.

 Yet having a dream without a clear connection on how you will arrive at the change destination is a recipe for disaster.

For example, it’s great to set a goal to lose weight. But you don’t burn enough calories through worry or stress to drop the desired kilos. It requires actions such as smaller portion sizes, calorie counting perhaps, or even increased movement to achieve the results you want.

Having a dream enables you to manage how your dream life will feel when you are living. The trick is to make the dream fluid and flow, rather than write the script of exactly how things are to unfold.

2. Set Small Implementable Goals & Actions.

To be able to realise your dream to fruition, you need goals. In order to tick the goals off the list, it’s critical to identify small actions which you can easily implement and achieve.

Identifying small actions removes the negativity of expectation because you are forced to ask yourself during planning, whether you consider you can actually achieve what you are wanting to implement.

Making small easy wins in the first few days is critical for driving your motivation through the slightly harder tasks and maintain your willingness to continue when it gets tough.

3. Openly Communicate With Self & Others.

Open communication is an absolute must whereby you provide or seek clarification of what you are wanting to in your dream life. This means you need to be clear on what you think, say aloud, and not what you infer.

No one is a mind reader.

We don’t understand your individual thought process. I haven’t lived your life with your experiences and inherited patterns, therefore I can’t possibly understand or recognise your stress triggers unless you tell me. Even then, I’m only processing your needs in relation to your stress triggers, with my stuff filter on!

Furthermore, if you’re trying to communicate something specific in relation to what you desire, it often pays to link your emotional juice to validate the reason or purpose.

For example, if asking a colleague for a task to be done without specifying a deadline or reason for task sets everyone up for failure. Openly communicating exactly what the task is, when it’s due to be completed, and why it will support all parties to work collaboratively to achieve the goal.

It’s a bit like making an informal agreement so that everyone involved understands the part they play.

The same reasoning applies when communicating with yourself about living your intended dream life. You have to be honest within your internal dialogue. Check-in with yourself and audit the depth of positivity or negativity. If your internal dialogue is on the negative nancy side, you can attempt to use affirmations and positive intentions and get nowhere fast with a single negative thought.

You’ll quickly frustrate yourself that you’re not achieving and the resultant expectation will leave you feeling like you’re a failure.

4. Connect To Your Emotional Juice.

This concept can be expanded further to our own goal-setting process. As a Wellness Coach, I work with clients to focus on creating goals to work towards living their dream life.

Whilst we set goals, we place our focus on the new habit that needs to be created to embrace the feeling, the emotional juice, of that dream life. Hassel refers to this as ‘secret sauce’ and I believe she’s onto something there!

When we create goals, part of the learning experience is that we experience mindset wobbles. It’s a bit like the universe subliminally asking us “are you sure this is what you want?

When the motivation waivers, I encourage clients to return to my notes on “what do I want to feel,” which associated with their goal.

Asking yourself these simple questions then enables you to dissociate from the negative perception of failure and focus on the positive outcomes. When coaching, I often find identifying weaknesses (or as I like to call them opportunities for growth) the most powerful exercise of goal setting we can undertake.

Asking the following questions prompts our logical thinking to find solutions outside of the box, find evidence of previous success (ie what has worked before), and how we can change in the future.

  • What did I learn?
  • How can I leverage this learning to achieve my next goal?
  • How can I behave differently in the future?
  • And based on what I learned, what agreement can I make to myself or someone else regarding future goals?

Through identifying the challenges (ie weaknesses), you have the conscious opportunity to circumvent the expectation of failure by actively reframing and planning to succeed through connection with all your good juju.

5. Validation

Seeking validation that you have been understood during communication ensures that all parties are on the same page. Sometimes, this communication helps you to remain very clear on what it is exactly that you want.

As we undertake work towards achieving the goal, sometimes it changes and we receive unexpected bonuses. Validating your emotional juice, your feelings in relation to life is a fantastic opportunity to clarify — yes I’m on the right path.

Validating your feelings enables you to maintain connections between your emotional brain and gut reaction — ie open heart space. Validation of our feelings reduces expectations because we remain connected to that inner knowing, and allow ourselves to be guided through the change obstacle course.

It’s when we disconnect from feelings during the reaction that those Negative Nancy monkey chatter patterns kick in and we misperceive what’s going on around us.

6. High involvement in actions, low attachment to the outcome.

Hassel refers to this as an expectation hangover, and I completely agree. As we walk our path, it’s vital to focus on how good we are feeling at moving forward on our journey, the lessons we are learning, and our growth.

If we focus on outcomes like acquiring stuff, more money, etc then there is no internal satisfaction and we crave more external to validate our internal sense of self-worth.

Sometimes just having clarity in the small steps forward that we take can alter our perception of the journey we walk.

So take action — and plenty of it.


Connecting with how the action makes you feel as you migrate towards your ideal life. It’s this continuous investment into your happiness account by acknowledging your feel-good moments that motivates you to do more, rather than focus on the outcome.

Disconnection from how you feel whilst taking action boosts mental energy for you to attach to expectations. It’s here you lose access to being able to go with the flow.

7. Own Your Beliefs and Values.

Understand and recognize that your values and beliefs are yours — they don’t belong to others.

We are all different and unique — thank goodness or the world would be a boring space! With that said, it’s impossible to expect others to share your exact beliefs and values.

Why? Because they don’t wear your underpants. They don’t walk in your shoes. They don’t have your environmental experiences or genetic inheritance patterns. They aren’t you.

So remember this when in a moment of misperception or misunderstanding of a situation (this can cause conflict). Take a breath and if necessary utilise the coaching questions:

  1. Am I in control of the situation?
  2. Can I shelf my feelings until later?
  3. Can I choose to change my perception?

Asking these questions enables you to step out of expectation by consciously connecting to your emotional juju and letting go.

8. Gain a Different Perspective.

Journalling or debriefing (or even Kinesiology and Wellness Coaching) with a person of trust can support you to gain a true perception of reality. Talking or writing about scenarios supports you to defuse the negative emotion which has arisen.

As the expression commences, this enables you to step out and perceive different viewpoints of the fishbowl of life.

When we step out of the intensity we can then grant ourselves the opportunity to understand what might be a motivational factor for another party. We may be able to gain some understanding of how they might process or react to a situation.

Stepping out of expectation is a gift because you gain clarity on how you feel. As a bonus, you also can gain insight from how another party may experience a situation.

9. Accept What Is.

I had a client recently who had become so disillusioned with her partner that she declared she would stop talking to them because she felt disrespected. Four months later a conversation had still not eventuated and she was left heartbroken, angry, sad, and confused. I know, four months is an incredibly long time to share space but not words!

Imagine how your body feels when you stuff those unexpressed emotions into it? Pain. Discomfort. Now imagine how much energy you utilise to not express out all the emotional juice! It’s exhausting!

The unwanted negative thoughts of shoulda, woulda, coulda all start to form a merry-go-round inside your head and your ability to perceive reality becomes tainted with reality. Sometimes you need to take a breath, step back one pace and own this place you’re in.

Acceptance of situations is the first step towards climbing out of the hole. When you can acknowledge a situation, thought, or feeling on a conscious level, you can then engage your logic brain to find a better solution and change.

Sometimes acceptance of a situation, no matter how sloppy the sh*t sandwich tennis match has become, is the first step to telling yourself “why am I choosing to maintain this?” Acceptance also creates a positive space for you to entertain gratitude.

As Shakespeare says, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” It sets us up for disappointment, heartache, and a perception of failure because we don’t achieve our desired outcomes. Is it time to take a breath, step out of a current negative situation, and assess your thoughts, feelings?

Is it time to communicate your needs openly, and include a reference to your feelings?

Is it time to consider how the other party might be feeling so you can understand and adapt your feelings and responses?

Is it time to stop punishing yourself with shoulda, woulda, coulda thought patterns, and adapt I am willing to learn to change?

10. Manage Disappointment.

It’s a rare thing to immediately achieve a goal. And if you did, well done. Perhaps you need to stretch yourself a little further now.

Just like learning to walk as an infant, it’s rare that we stand from lying flat on our backs. We need to develop muscles in order to roll, sit up on our own, then crawl, walk, and eventually run. This is why breaking down the obstacles to achieving the dream are so critical.

Managing your disappointment when you don’t achieve what you really want is also vital. You need to remain open enough that you can reflect on any lessons learned along the way as you perfect the practice. Additionally, congratulate yourself on maintaining effort and continuing at all.

The trick with disappointment, like trying to quit smoking is to celebrate what you did achieve and start again. Implement strategies to avoid the obstacles you observed got in the way. Seek support if you can’t see the strategy and have someone guide you over the hurdle.

References:

Bradberry, Travis. (2016, January) “8 Unrealistic Expectations That Hold You Back”.
Hassler, Christine (2015, February) “Tips To Avoid An Expectation Hangover” Success.

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.’ 

Let Your Autumn Leaves Fall

Let Your Autumn Leaves Fall

This is the season to get ‘bare’ and heal.

Favourite time of year

Autumn would have to be my favourite time of year on so many levels. The nights are cool so you can sleep. The days have glorious warm sunshine which doesn’t burn you or cause you to sweat to the point of chaffing!!

Energetically, autumn is the time of year we acknowledge the abundance of summer. The peak of sunshine and solstice has passed. We can celebrate the goals kicked and reflect on those that missed the posts and didn’t score.

Autumn should be when we slow down and progress towards our hibernation period of winter. As we lose external daylight we are energetically forced to find the light within. This is a normal part of our transitional process for our evolution.

I don’t know about you, but I reflect on my NYE intentions during this season. I review my goals and ask myself whether they are still relevant, and if they are, I question myself whether I am on track. I do this from a place of non-judgement.

It’s like a self-audit. You can pick and choose the feelings, thoughts and actions, and make any required modifications to your life.

It’s ok to not be in a space where you expected. Life is meant to be fluid and filled with unexpected change as we walk our journey path.

It is in this reflective space that you can be kind to self and explore any opportunities that have arisen along your path. You can embrace cross roads, instead of being fearful of them.

Just like the leaves on the deciduous trees which constantly change, we are entering the energetic phase of baring our branches (our patterns and beliefs and dreams). The falling of the leaves allows us to become vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be exposed for this is where you find your raw truth — your hidden treasure of innate wisdom.

Before the equinox descends upon us, be gentle with self. It’s like filling up your love account for self. The more happiness deposits you can make, the larger your capacity for more love.

Set your intention to be open to all possibilities which allow you to be happy. I find simply setting my intention for being open to experiences of joy each day, invites the unexpected into my life. I am constantly surprised at my capacity to love when I set simple intentions, rather than planning out life to the last minute.

Set your intention which allows you to be connected to self and your inner harmony and peace of mind.

Set your intention for ‘easy’, so that you can always be open to the fork in the road and connecting to your intuition and innate knowing.

Just keep breathing, watching the tree colours change each time you are outside and walk. Allow nature to trigger your imagination and the universe to surprise you with wonder.

Be like the tree and allow your change process to evolve.

Here are some steps to support your pruning phase this autumn.

Sharpen the shears

You have to be prepared to cut out the deadwood. Journalling is a fabulous activity for this. Writing out all the arising feelings as you sit quietly and explore, reflect, and goal setting is an extremely liberating and purging gift to self.

Rake up the fallen leaves

Collect your thoughts and feelings through journaling and meditation. It’s important that when the feelings arise into consciousness, you don’t dwell on them. Use the breath to acknowledge and gently release that which no longer serves your higher purpose.

Mulch the tree roots

Fuelling your body with sufficient nutrition and water is essential in your change process. A healthy gut promotes your brain to work better and be more readily adaptable in this stressful world.

Fertilize the soil

When I first typed this I wrote fertilize the soul. By this I mean to be selfish and meet your needs.

Self-care is vital with any change process. For some, this may include a relaxing bath each night. Perhaps a walk in nature. Cuddle the pets or kids can reinforce your physical connection to others. Massage is another ripper activity for the self-care tool kit.

As always be sure to get good sleep to rest the body and the mind.

Summary

In summary, allow yourself to align to the seasonal change. Surrendering to the energetic shifts aligns you to your unique path and the steps you are about to take. Surrendering to your leaves falling and your branches becoming bare will prepare you for your upcoming winter hibernation.