Tribute to Shanna

On  April 23rd, my cbyer-friend and fellow cancer blogger, Shanna Sandmoen, left this world.  Although I had only known her for a short time, she touched my life with her eternal optimism and fighting spirit.

On March 22nd, Shanna very bravely posted this picture of herself, depicting how cancer had ravished her body:

Despite her weakened state, she was excited about her latest health plan and looked forward to recovery.  She wrote: “This July I’m going to Kripalu for Gabby Bernstein’s Loveatarian workshop and I plan on having a lovely head of hair, strong arms, a strong heart, and an much smaller tummy.”   Shanna never lost hope.  Cancer took her body, but her spirit remained strong to the end.  Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Below I have re-posted the guest post which Shanna wrote for my blog on April 4th:

Cancer is not a Dirty Word

by Shanna Sandmoen

Cancer is not a curse or a punishment.   It isn’t designed to hurt us, it’s designed to wake us up.  We stopped listening to our bodies, we pushed our emotions down and where Spirit should be sitting, our Ego has taken the driver’s seat. Cancer is a wake up call; you either make some changes, or you die.

Prior to being diagnosed with cancer I was severely depressed, suicidal, a cutter, and just wanted out of this life. I begged the Universe to take me from this world.  Two months later I was diagnosed with cancer.  I celebrated!  Who would blame me if I died from cancer? Suicides are selfish and leave an incredible hole, but cancer, that’s different.

It spread quickly after that, and if I had allowed it, it would have been only a matter of months before it took me. Then one day I talked to my Dad, and he just lost control and started crying uncontrollably, to the point where he had to hang up the phone. In 25 years I’d seen my Dad cry only once; and that was when we put the family dog down. The man doesn’t cry or show that kind of emotion, and it hit me hard. I realized that my intentions were selfish.  In the grand scheme of things, had I given this life thing the benefit of the doubt?

So I decided to live.  I went on a vegan raw food diet; visited many energy healers, including Ressonance Repatterning, EFT, Reiki, The Reconnection, and others.  I found a Naturopath to work with; took a ton of supplements; did colonics and Vitamin C drips; you name it. Over the past eight years my body has done a lot of healing. Things go up and down sometimes, but that is really  because of me. I would say that I am happy today. I have many things to enjoy: friendships, blogging, getting creative, going to the park, hugging my dog, yoga, etc. Currently, I recognize that it is Spirit that needs the work, and as my Spirit continues to heal, I believe that my body will as well.

Happiness is a choice.  It’s all in how we perceive things. I chose to perceive life as a gift and cancer as my teacher. When things go wrong, I figure out how I’m sabotaging myself, and then do some Spiritual healing. I have my mentors: Gabby Bernstein, Danielle La Porte, Gala Darling, Goddess Leone, Marci Shimoff, etc. who really help me get through the tough times.  I smile at myself in the mirror every morning, and if the going gets tough, I take a deep breath, do some gratitudes, and realize that everything will be okay.

My goal is to heal myself holistically and prove that the health of the mind/body/spirit is essential to a joyous life. I choose to be an inspiration to myself and to others who might be struggling with the “perks of cancer”.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and I look forward to being completely healed.   It took cancer to make me appreciate life.

Perk # 92: Cancer Forced Me To Forgive

Long before my diagnosis, I read a book which changed my life:  You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay.  She believes that all dis-ease/disease in the body has an underlying emotional cause.  In the case of cancer, the underlying cause is holding on to resentment, which eats away at the spirit as cancer eats away at the body.  In order to free oneself of resentment, it is necessary to forgive.

I believe in a holistic view of healing.  I took a firm hand to healing my body, through my treatments, diet, exercise and supplements.  I realized however, that true healing would not happen unless I also addressed the needs of mind and my spirit.  I had some forgiving to do!

Every day for more than a month, I would visualize the people who have hurt me, and I would say in my mind, “I forgive you and I wish you well.”   Sometimes a little voice in my head would jump in and say, “I forgive you and I wish you well……you bitch!”  But eventually I came to feel the truth of my words, and I was able to truly forgive.   It does not matter that these people do not know they are forgiven.  Some of them may not even know that they have hurt me.  This exercise was not about freeing them, but freeing myself, since the only person I was hurting by holding on to resentment was me.  Once I was able to release that, I opened a space in my spirit for true healing.

Although I was diligent in practicing this exercise, I still had a nagging feeling that I was forgetting to forgive someone.  Hmmmmmm……my exes?  Check.  Friends?  Check.  Family members?  Check.  People at work?  Check.  Then, one day, while waiting for a radiation treatment, I was practicing my affirmation: “ I love and approve of myself just as I am”, when that little voice in my head spoke up once again.  It said, “How can you possibly approve of yourself just as you are?  You are far from perfect.  You are bossy, stubborn and you expect perfection in your relationships with others.”  I then realized that the person I was forgetting to forgive was myself.  I had never really forgiven myself for a failed marriage, and I harboured guilt for having hurt other people.  I was also having trouble forgiving myself for Ben’s autism.  Deep inside I wondered if I had done something wrong to cause this disorder.   So I was then forced to forgive the one person most in need of my forgiveness: Me.  Now when I say my affirmation, “I love and approve of myself just as I am,” I really mean it, warts and all.

Tip:  Repeat after me:  I love and approve of myself just as I am.

 

 

 

Perk # 91: A Great Save On The Heat

 

I was recently pleasantly surprised by a decrease in my heating bill.  As I pondered the reason for this stroke of good fortune, my daughter said, “It’s no wonder, mom, this house is like an ice box since you started taking that new pill.”  Ahhhh, Tamoxifen.   While chemo-pause causes “tropical moments” Tamoxifen can bring on what I can only describe as “oven hours”; prolonged periods of intense body heat.  I will not kid you, this can cause discomfort at times, but just consider the money I am saving in heating bills!  (So kids, go put on a sweater.)

Tip: Don’t try to resist your hot flashes.  Recognize when they are coming, and focus on deep breathing until they pass. 

Photo Challenge

I just found an interesting blogging challenge started by Jen at “Keep The Calm.”  The challenge is to post a picture of myself which depicts who I have been in the last six months.

For me, the past six months included my cancer treatments, and a lot of time to go within and do some soul searching.  So here it is:

 

Solitude

Perk # 90: …….And To Adopt Some Good Habits

My son, Donovan, walked into the kitchen one morning and asked, “Mom, why does it smell like someone just mowed the lawn in here?”

“Well, son, that’s my breakfast,”  I replied.

Yes, my friends, I am doing grass; wheatgrass, that is.  In case you are wondering, it tastes every bit as good as it sounds.   However, along with kicking some old bad habits, cancer motivated me to adopt some new, healthy ones.  Juicing wheatgrass is one of them.

I have read a lot of good things about wheatgrass juice.  I am no medical expert, but taking living grass, squeezing the green “blood” from it, and then drinking it, has to be good for you.   The fact that it ranks right up there with broccoli and raw cabbage in taste tests, is further proof to me that it is healthy.   Therefore, while it takes a lot of work just to produce just one ounce of the juice, I plan to continue with this healthy habit.

Tip: Be open to trying new foods  for their health benefits.

Perk # 89: Cancer Motivated Me To Drop Some Bad Habits……

Before getting cancer, I considered myself to be living a healthy-ish lifestyle.  I didn’t smoke, I exercised on a regular basis, and I even ate the occasional green salad.  But ya know, we all have our vices.  For some it is chocolate (I couldn’t be bothered); for others it’s fast food (I’d much rather cook a leisurely meal at home); for me it’s wine.  Nothing brings me more pleasure than sipping on a cold sauvignon blanc.  First my taste buds spring to life, then I feel the warm sensation as it hits my belly, followed by the  comforting feeling of wine-induced relaxation.   Ahhhhh……

 It is not my fault that I was born loving wine.  What did mom expect by giving me a name like Florence?  Obviously with a name which originated in Italy, I am genetically predispositioned to want wine with every meal.  But alas, I have learned that alcohol in any form- even red wine which can be good for your heart- is not good for cancer.   Therefore I have had to break my bad habit of having a glass of wine on a whim.   While I still do engage in the occasional libation, I make sure to limit it to just ONE glass.

Cheers!

Tip:  Limit your alcohol consumption.

 

Guest Blogger: Debjani Dass St. George

Today I am happy to welcome my old friend, and former Psychologist-colleague to my blog.  Debjani blogs about food, and today shares an old favourite of ours, seafood chowder.  All you vegans and vegetarians had better close your eyes for this one!

Here is the link:    http://debjanidass.wordpress.com/author/debjanidass/

 

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