Mind Over Cancer
The mind is a powerful ally: in order to heal, you need to have faith in the type of treatment that you are undergoing. In order to achieve this, the first battle you need to win is in your mind.
A patients’ mental outlook greatly affects their healing. Those who have come to terms with their disease, tend to positively engage their minds and bodies, and therefore do better with their treatments. One of our greatest challenges is helping patients get over their anxieties and fears. Patients who have a lot of fear and anxiety are always tough to heal. No doubt that those who come in for cancer treatment are scared, but they have to have faith to get over their fear otherwise it is going to affect their healing. What are the sources of fear and anxiety? There are many. One of the critical issue is convincing the mind that the treatment option chosen is the right decision .
We work with those whose minds are for the ‘Integrative care’
Choosing the treatment options and convincing the mind that it is the best option is one of the most important task that the cancer patient has to do. We normally assess or ‘feel out’ the inclination of the patients before-hand to see if they would rather be in the mainstream treatment protocol.
Your emotions and intentions should be in sync for it is your ‘voluntary’ choice that supports your immune system and your health. If emotionally, receiving conventional treatment and the support of the medical community behind you is what you need in order to feel confident and positive, then that’s where you should be. Even though we know (through experience) that conventional treatment isn’t going to work for some patients, there is really no point in taking in a patient who would really rather be taking the conventional route.
Not everyone will support your decision
Unfortunately, sometimes it may not be you, but your husband/wife, cousin, daughter/son, doctors who think that there is no scientific basis for the integrated healing therapies and in fact fear that it might interfere with the conventional therapy that you are currently on. In this scenario, if you choose to go ‘integrative’ with your treatment you have to be strong in your conviction as you may not get the support for this kind of medicine from your oncologists or family and you may also be subjected to criticism and ridicule.
Believe in your therapy
When you believe, you are more likely to comply and be in harmony with your belief system. This can lead to powerful biological changes that will support the healing process. However, if you don’t, but proceed with it anyway, your mind may sabotage your own healing process.
It takes great courage to take control of your own health and be independently able to make treatment decisions. It is also very important for you to be at peace with the treatment decisions you have made. Quite often we find that patients achieve a great sense of relief which can be liberating once they get past this point. We consider the decision to be a good one when the patient is at peace with the decision made. Ample time and space to reach the decision is vital.
TAPPING INTO THE POWER OF THE MIND TO HEAL
You need to get your mind to work with you not against you.
Very often we come across patients arriving at our center feeling overwhelmed, scared, depressed and anxious. Many are not only afraid of the disease, they are also terrified of their oncologist who may pressure them to do certain treatments. Although many instinctively realize the irrationality the destruction - based treatments proposed by their oncologists, they are too afraid of going against the grain.
Your emotional and mental states play significant roles, both in susceptibility to and recovery from cancer. Your mind is capable of making your body ill, and it is also able to stimulate your body to heal itself.
Thoughts can change your body chemistry and physiology, for better or for worse.
In integrated treatment, the healing of the body starts from the mind due to the simple fact that your thoughts, fears and attitude affect the rest of your body. Your attitude is important for two reasons:
(1) it influences the emotions in response to your illness and
(2) it determines the actions you will take.
An attitude of helplessness will feed depression and passivity whereas a positive attitude brings optimism and motivates one towards success. We know of people who survive the most severe illnesses by sheer determination and by embracing the necessary changes - and we also know of others who lose the will to live or have so much emotional burdens that they actually welcome the disease as a way out.
If you are determined to beat cancer, you have to ‘lift’ your mental state from that of a victim to that of a survivor. In reality, when it comes to your potential for health, you are in the driver’s seat. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. Use it positively in your overall strategy to overcome this disease. Let’s look at some of the tools you can use to help foster healing.
OWN YOUR TREATMENT PROGRAM
It is your personal responsibility to believe in your treatment program and be committed towards it. See it as your ally and believe that it is there to help you instead of feeling that you are being forced to undergo the program. (No doubt some treatments that you decide to pursue can be painful - still, see it through. Otherwise change your course - it is important not to be indecisive).
PROJECT A POSITIVE IMAGE AND INTENTION OF HEALING
From the result of decades of research, we know that cell chemistry can be directly influenced by human intention. This knowledge helps to explain the placebo effect, spontaneous remission and the value of faith and prayer in human health.
Use mental imagery (visualization) – a technique where you use positive mental images (eg. a beautiful place where you are happy) to manage stress and physical discomfort. Guided imagery can be used to help in dealing with pain, nausea and anxiety, and support the immune system. Focus on the desired outcome, such as the restoration of health. Imagine and take charge of everything that happens within your body.
Do you realize that when you watch a horror movie, you feel frightened and may get chills up your spine. What happens in this case is that you are getting a ‘negative suggestion’ through what you see in the movie and the sound effects. This sensory perception produced an emotion of fear which in turn sends chills up your spine.
Positive ‘visualization’ on the other hand uses positive images to produce emotions that manifest into positive physical sensations in the body. Sounds simple? Initially no, but with practice you can learn this technique. What you think actually has an effect on healing through the simple fact that bodies do react to the thoughts you make. Therefore, visualize positive thoughts and focus on your intention to heal .
COPE WITH DEPRESSION, PAIN AND FEAR
Living with cancer involves much more than just coping with the physical wear and tear; the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can dramatically affect the mind as well as the body.
Cancer disrupts many aspects of the life you have had before the diagnosis; this ranges from relationships to work, lifestyles and hobbies. The degree of disruption depends on the seriousness of the illness, the prognosis (chance of recovery) and your coping mechanism. Many people with cancer describe feelings of anger, lack of control, sadness, frustration, depression, fear, guilt and also a change in the way they think about themselves and their future. The transition from a “normal” life to one with cancer can overwhelm you with many fears, the biggest being fear of the unknown.
Some of the things that can help: meditation – emptying the mind and creating inner peace. Regular meditation can provide a deep sense of peace, hope, love and fulfillment not possible in any other way.
- learn some relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, tai chi and qi gong.
- spiritual awareness – faith can be a source of refuge and support through prayer.
- read books and watch movies that are uplifting or inspiring.
- read accounts of those who have successfully overcome cancer or other adversities.
BE TRUE TO YOUR FEELING
Understand that fear and despair are normal natural responses to a life-threatening illness. Face it, some days are lousy, some days may seem hopeless — feel the feeling — both the positive and negative. Turning towards rather than away from difficult emotional experience, and embracing change as a constant are helpful antidotes to these difficult realities.
* Do not get into the habit of replaying negatives memories/ emotions,
* Do not let anger control your emotions and
* Do not give up hope — for belief and hope are very real and very powerful forces in health and healing.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. -Helen Keller-
IT'S ALL IN THE MIND
Not all changes are negative — it’s all in the mind. There are people with cancer who have reported positive changes in outlook such as gratitude, appreciation that life is short and special, awareness of life, a shift in priorities and clarity about the meaning of life. All this positive changes resulted because now every day matters.
Battling cancer is more than a physical battle with cancer through radiation and administering powerful drugs. Personal beliefs, positive attitudes and hopeful expectations make a contribution to cancer recovery. If you have received a cancer diagnosis, you know that the hundreds of questions and concerns you have about what's to come can be as stressful as the cancer treatment itself. However, if you mentally prepare yourself to handle cancer treatment by getting stress and anxiety under control, you can improve your quality of life and become an active participant in your own recovery. Therefore, engage your mind to work with you and for you in your healing journey.
|“I fight because I’m finally happy. I love living life… A lot of people when they’re diagnosed look at it as “I’m dying,” the way I look at it, I’m living until the day I die.” Source: A cancer patien|