WELCOME TO THE CANCER COACHING COMMUNITY™
Supporting people affected by cancer to live well
In the words of Dr Peter Harvey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist “...once heard, the diagnosis of cancer can never be forgotten.
Whatever your prognosis, whatever your hopes, whatever your personality, the second that you know that you have cancer your life changes irrevocably. ”
Cancer casts a big shadow over those who are diagnosed with it and their loved ones yet I find myself drawn to my client’s shadow side. What is the client’s shadow? It’s their dark side, the place inside they don’t want to look at, that’s often been suppressed for many years, unacknowledged but hanging over them and casting a shadow over their life. The shadow holds powerful emotions that are hard to live with, such as guilt, grief, shame and fear – is it any wonder that people don’t want to go there? And yet the unresolved shadow always follows them, holding them back from being their best self.
‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed is the story of a young American woman who went off the rails after losing her mother to lung cancer at the young age of 45. It’s a courageous book written with great honesty: Strayed has bared her soul to herself and her readers, sparing nothing. It’s about grief and loss and being lost when our anchor gives way. It’s also about ‘the journey from lost to found’ (the book’s sub title) through recognising the need for solitude and the healing power of nature.
I’m sure you will have noticed how many stories there are in the press these days about cancer. Sometimes they are about celebrities, sometimes they are about ordinary people, coping with and overcoming cancer and sometimes not. These are always inspiring stories of human resilience and emotional strength in the face of gruelling treatment and often terrible uncertainty about outcomes.
Fear is there from the moment you are in the process of running any tests to find out whether you might have cancer.
Fear jumps at you at the moment of your cancer diagnosis: ‘you might well die from this cancer’. At that very moment the world stops spinning, your life has changed forever (you don’t quite know how yet), there is only the unknown ahead of you and suddenly you’re terrified you might not be around for your children? All of that, and more, crosses your mind in those very first few seconds when you hear you have cancer.
This book has filled a space that has needed filling for many years. It manages to tackle the subject of radical remissions from terminal cancer in a remarkably matter of fact and not at all airy-fairy way. I always thought it strange that no one was interested in unusual recoveries, and have come across a handful of such recoveries in my work and life. It seemed many of these people had to go it alone as health professionals found it difficult to even admit the possibility that non-medical factors might play a part in an individual’s recovery.
If we have a partner this may be the first time that our partner has experienced us as really vulnerable. The effect of this depends on many different factors and to some extent is out of our control. It may also be the first time when our own need to take care of ourselves has taken over from our caring for others. All sorts of shifts take place and we cannot predict how things will be when the dust settles.
A cancer diagnosis is often a catalyst for change in our lives. A significant health challenge like cancer will draw on resources that you may never had to use before – strength, resilience, emotions you don’t like, and some you do.
Life purpose might mean what you do with your time, what you’re passionate about, what brings you joy, happiness and wellness. Life purpose might be what your job is in the world – paid or not, employed or not. Life purpose might be what we feel we’re drawn to that brings us meaning.
I love books and learn so much from them, particularly those where the story and the learning is the author͛s journey. With exquisite timing,
Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani came my way recently courtesy of Petra Vasileva at Animas Coaching Centre – thank you
We tend to have an idea of ourselves and who we are. This includes our physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects. We tend to resist change, and more so when it’s sudden and not chosen like cancer.
It takes time to acknowledge what we’ve lost and to grieve in whatever way is right for us, and to develop as people so that our experience is something that has happened to us and we can find a new balance in our life.