Tag Archive | cancer

Perk # 93: Cancer Introduced Me To Some New Saints

Being raised Catholic, I kinda have a thing for the saints.  From the time I said my first novena at 10 years old, me and St. Theresa have been BFF’s.  I refer to her as my multi-purpose saint, as I can call on her for any reason.  Sometimes however, it is necessary to pull out all the stops and throw in a prayer or two to the patron saint of your cause.  When my sister, Lynette, was having trouble selling her house for example, we called upon St. Joseph, the patron saint of selling houses.  Shortly thereafter, the house sold! (I’m not so sure if her Jewish husband is privy to this information.)  Any time I am traveling and the road conditions are risky, I call upon St. Christopher, patron saint of travellers to accompany me on my journey.  Even if I find myself in a situation which seems beyond hope, I can always call upon St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes.

It did not surprise me in the least when, following my diagnosis, fellow Catholics started lunging at me with prayer cards.  It turns out that there is not just one, but actually two patron saints of cancer: St. Peregrine and St. Michael of the Saints (to distinguish him from just plain old St. Michael).  Not wanting to pick favourites and offend anybody up there, I prayed to both of them.

A prayer is a powerful thing, sometimes so powerful that you can actually feel the energy of the words as you say it.  I found that to be the case for this prayer in particular.   Please pause for a moment and offer a prayer to St. Michael of the Saints:

We praise you, Most Holy Trinity, for having sent us St. Michael of the Saints to be our friend and intercessor in the fight against cancer.

Grant us, we pray, a humble faith that we may follow in his holy footsteps and believe without a doubt in your generous gift of healing.

With humble and childlike trust, we ask your Divine help through St. Michael of the Saints in this urgent necessity.

May this gift of bodily health bring us peace and joy which are but a foretaste of heaven, and may we be counted one day among your saints in glory.

Father, your world is ill with cancer and frightened.  We pray you ease the suffering of those afflicted, give loving hands to those who care for them, and light the way for those who seek its cure.

Merciful Father, extend your healing hand so that we may cry out: A cure, at last!

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Tip:  The most powerful prayer is a prayer of gratitude.  Give thanks for all that you have.

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.




Inspiration Saturday

Think about a rabbit who escapes capture from a fox.   It shows all the signs of the “fight or flight response”:  it’s eyes are popped out, it’s breathing is quick and shallow, and it’s heart is pounding.   But soon it calms down and goes about the work of being a rabbit.

We too experience the fight or flight response when we are stressed.  Our breathing is quick and shallow, our legs may be shakey, and our hearts pound.  But unlike the rabbit, often we don’t let it go once the stressful event has passed.  Instead, we perpetuate the feeling by reliving the stressful event over and over in our minds.  The rabbit does not go to sleep at night thinking: “Geeze, I almost had it today!  I could have died.  What if that fox had caught me?”  Nor does the rabbit wake up thinking, “I don’t think I’m going out of this hole today, that fox might chase me again.  That mean old fox could be lurking anywhere.”

For those of us who have experienced cancer, cancer is the fox, and we are the rabbit.  However, unlike a rabbit, too often we re-live that stressful time over and over in our minds, living in the past  (“I could have died.” ) or worried about the future (“What if the cancer is still lurking somewhere in my body?”)  If we are to experience peace, we must strive to be like the rabbit, and just BE in the present.


Perk # 84: Eat Pray Love

Elizabeth Gilbert was on to something when she wrote the bestselling book “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Since getting cancer, I have more fully and consciously embraced these three things, and ironically, I’ve never experienced a stronger feeling of well being in my life!

Eat: I can hardly believe that in Perk #18 I wrote about eating a smorgasboard of Halloween treats.   Since I got serious about my cancer fighting diet in January, not even a piece of gum will sneak past my lips unless it is sugar free.  Apparently, cancer LOVES sugar, and I have no intention of feeding the enemy. My diet is now mainly plant based, with lots of “living foods” like sprouts and fresh spinach.  While I still eat some meat, I am just a pork chop away from being a vegetarian, folks.

Pray: Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have made prayer and meditation a focus of each day.   This is not just based on “blind faith”, but also on scientific evidence which proves the power of prayer and meditation in promoting good health and overall well being.  I recently discovered the work of Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of several well known books.  I love this guy, not just his work, I mean I LOVE this man!  Dr. Siegel strongly advocates meditation for cancer patients, saying, “I know of no other single activity that by itself can produce such great improvement in the quality of life.” (Love, Medicine and Miracles).  Works for me!

Love:  AAAhhhh love.  The first thing that probably comes to mind is the butterflies and rainbows feeling of falling in love.   I was very fortunate to experience that at about the same time that I was diagnosed with cancer.  What a wonderful gift!   But through my cancer journey, I came to discover that the true gift of love is only possible if you first love yourself.   If you are harbouring any resentment or ill feeling, especially towards yourself, forgive and let it go.  Allow yourself to experience the healing vibration of love.  Dr. Siegel sees a strong relationship between surviving cancer and the degree to which you can love yourself and be open to receiving love.  (Don’t ya just love him?)

Tip:  Eat, Pray and Love your way to a healthy and happy life.


Perk # 82: I Have Been Published

April 16th Edition, Woman's World

I have always enjoyed writing, and one of the top things on my bucket list has been to be published.   “Thanks” to cancer, I can now scratch that off my list.

In January, on a return flight from Florida, I picked up a copy of Woman’s World magazine to pass the time.  I immediately skipped forward to my favourite section of the magazine, “My Guardian Angel”, in which readers share their stories about experiences with angels.  “Hey,”  I thought, “I have a story  to share.”  (See Perk # 46:  https://perksofcancer.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/perk-46-receiving-special-gifts/ )  So I jotted down some notes, sent them off to the editor, and lo and behold I am now published in a magazine with a circulation of more than 1.7 million!

My story tells of how throughout my cancer journey, my angels have made their presence known through the symbol of a butterfly.   Now my story has a sequel.  It happened at the Skills for Healing breast cancer retreat which I attended last weekend.   We were on our lunch break on Saturday, and since it was such a beautiful day, Shawn and I took a walk by the lake, stopping along the way to take pictures.  We were soon joined by a lady from our group, Faye, who offered to take our picture.

Photo by Faye

As we were chatting, Faye pointed to a butterfly in the distance.  It is unusual to see a butterfly this early in the spring in Eastern Canada, so this sight was a rare treat to behold.  I thought, “Come join me”, as I held out my hand.  The butterfly then changed direction and pitched right on my hand!   Faye, Shawn and I continued to chat quietly, so as not to disturb this peaceful presence.  It stayed there for about a minute, and I proceeded to tell Faye how I interpreted this as a message that my angels are around me.

The thing with talking about your angels is that for some people, you may as well be talking about visitors from outer space.  They just think you are coo-coo!  I wasn’t sure how Faye took my comment until the next morning at our healing circle group.  It was then that she shared her beautiful story of a near death experience in which she was visited by six angels.  In that moment I knew that the butterfly was not just for me.  It was also a sign to Faye that her angels are watching over her, just as they watch over each of us.

Tip:  Be open to the loving presence of your guardian angels.

Wednesday Guest Blog

Happy Wednesday!  In keeping with my schedule of featuring one of my favourite bloggers each Wednesday, it is my pleasure today to introduce you to Shanna.

Shanna is a cancer “thriver” who blogs about healing holistically. She is a Spirit Junkie, vegetarian, animal lover, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic, and book lover (check out her blogs Enlightened by Books and Radical Self Love Goddess). You can also read about her healing journey at Existing’s Tricky.

“When it’s dark and I’m all alone, and I’m scared and freaking out or whatever, I always think ‘What would Buffy do?’…you’re my hero.” Xander Harris ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

“These little earthquakes, doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces…Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.” Tori Amos ‘Little Earthquakes’

“existing’s tricky: but to live’s a gift.” e e cummings

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 # 71: I Haven’t Been Sick Since I Got Cancer

Last night, amid hacking and coughing, Shawn turned to me and said, “Darlin’ maybe I should sleep in another room.  I don’t want you to catch this cold.”  To which I promptly replied, “Oh, don’t worry about me.  I haven’t been sick since I got cancer.”   The words were already out of my mouth before I realized the irony of it!  The truth is, I have not had a cold, flu or stomach bug in the past year, despite being surrounded by contagious kids.   Cold seasons have come and gone in my home, and I have nursed each of my three children through the dreaded stomach flu, but for some reason, I have been unaffected.   Even my lifelong companion, irritable bowel syndrome (yes, it is as irritating as it sounds) has taken a hike this past year.

Hmmmmmmm to what do I owe this reprieve from boogers and other un-pleasantries?   I chalk it up to a robust immune system.  Before getting cancer, I took my immune system for granted, assuming that it would ward off the enemy fueled by the likes of diet cokes and Doritos.  While my killer T-cells snoozed, viruses  and bacteria moved in and took up residence in my body.  Then came the ultimate ambush: CANCER.  What a rude awakening.  I knew it was time to make friends with my killer T’s by feeding them  nourishing foods and giving them some exercise.  I even spend time each day picturing these little soldiers traveling through my body seeking and destroying the dreaded enemy.   It has paid off.   Other than the adverse side effects of my treatments, (which cannot be blamed on a lazy immune system), I am one of the healthiest cancer patients you will ever meet.

(Click on this link to watch a live Killer T cell in action, destroying a cancer cell:  http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/watch-a-killer-t-cell-in-action-as-it-attacks-a-cancerous-cell-20120211/)

Tip:  Keep your immune system strong and healthy by feeding your body nutritious, cancer-fighting foods, getting plenty of rest, exercising, and reducing the stressors in your life.