Shawn and I met literally days before I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. When I got the news, I called him in tears to break off the relationship before it had really gotten started. But for some reason, for which I will be forever grateful, he wanted to be with me despite my uncertain future. We soon fell in love, and the rest, as they say, is history. For most of our two year relationship, I was a cancer patient: bald, one-breasted, and sick from my treatments, surgeries and many infections. But this man, who came into my life like an angel, never left my side.
The more I read and research the mind-body connection, the more I am convinced that our mental and emotional state can have a huge impact on our physical state. In her book, Mind Over Medicine, Lisa Rankin provides hundreds of studies which document how the mind body-connection can not only contribute to making us sick, but can also help to make us well. Stress, for example, can impair the functioning of the immune system. Without a strong immune system, we are less able to fight off the bacteria, viruses, and yes, even cancer cells, that roam our bodies. In the two years leading up to my diagnosis, I was under stress in every aspect of my life, and I firmly believe that stress was a significant contributing factor to me getting cancer.
While the mind-body connection can be detrimental to your health, the wonderful news is, you can also harness its power to help the body to heal! And boy, did I ever make use of that power during my recovery from cancer. I practiced many exercises to make maximum use of the mind-body connection, such as: forgiveness exercises, visualization, affirmations and gratitude, just to name a few (these are all discussed in my book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It). Just as I believe that stress contributed to my diagnosis, I also believe that falling in love, with all the feel good hormones and the relaxation response that it induced, helped in my healing.
Having a keen imagination, visualization was one of my favorite mind-body exercises. My favorite thing to visualize while going through my cancer journey was Shawn embracing a healthy me, (with nice hair) on a wharf overlooking the moon-lit water. In my vision, we would both be happy and thankful that the whole experience was behind us, and we had made it through together. I imagined that such a beautiful view as I had conjured up must take place in some tropical destination, such as Florida or Jamaica. However the exact location was not important, as long as the elements of water, moon, good health and Shawn were in the picture.
Even though I had not given this vision any thought since my recovery, last night the stars magically lined up and my vision came to be my reality! As we stood on the wharf in beautiful Shelbourne, Nova Scotia with Shawn embracing me from behind, I experienced a sudden sense of deja-vu. I realized that in that moment I was living the exact same dream that I had conjured up many times to help me through difficult cancer treatments. Then I cried tears of pure happiness.
Visualization is such a powerful tool! Look around you: your computer, the chair you are sitting on, the lamp in front of you, everything around you first began as a vision in someone’s mind; visions that have become manifested as reality. Be careful of the visions you allow to inhabit your mind, as they too will very likely become your reality.
And I think you will have to agree, even the “Nice Hair” part of my vision came to pass….and that is the real miracle!