By KATHY McVEY
At the very basic level, cancer is your own cells attacking themselves. When I learned this after my own breast cancer diagnosis – early on – I felt like I’d been given a kind of power. I had a total belief that if my own body had created cancer, then surely I could reverse it. So I started reading…
Getting Well Again: The Bestselling Classic About The Simonton’s Revolutionary Lifesaving Self-Awareness Techniques
by Carl Simonton, Stephanie Matthews-Simonton and James L Creighton.
One of the books that most helped me to heal myself was Getting Well Again. The book is based on the Simonton’s experience with hundreds of patients at their Cancer Counselling and Research Centre, and introduces the scientific basis for the ‘will to live’.
The key idea in the book is the link between stress and illness, that emotions can cause illness. In this book the authors profile the typical ‘cancer personality’ – how an individual’s reaction to stress and other emotional factors can contribute to the onset and progress of cancer, and how positive expectations, self-awareness and self-care can contribute to survival.
Getting Well Again taught me how to recognise the gifts in my serious illness and offered techniques that (three years later) I am still using to discover my own emotional needs and take the opportunity to satisfy them.
YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE
by Louise Hay
Louise Hay believes that what we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us, that every thought we think is creating our future. She writes: “The body, like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs. Every cell within your body responds to every single thought you think and every word you speak.”
You Can Heal Your Life lists Probable Mental Patterns that create illnesses in the body as well as the New Thought Patterns or Affirmations to be used to create health. For instance, the lungs represent our capacity to take in and give out life. The heart, of course, represents love.
But the breasts – according to Hay – represent the mothering principle. “If cancer is involved, there is also deep resentment.” I had read this book prior to discovering my left breast harboured a Grade 3 infiltrating ductal carcinoma, but I re-read it following my diagnosis and I still refer to it, and the exercises it contains, regularly.
You Can Heal Your Life was originally published in the 1980’s, but in 2007 Hay released a DVD of the same name. Her works have been translated into 29 different languages in 35 countries throughout the world.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
by John Kabat-Zinn
John Kabat-Zinn is the man who made meditation a daily practice for me. He is also the founder and director of the stress reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
Long before I ever heard of ‘mindfulness meditation’, I’d tried TM, the transcendental meditation made famous in the 1960s by the Beatles. I’d also tried various chakra opening exercises and different kinds of relaxation yoga.
But after I was diagnosed with cancer and realised stress-reduction would be a key step on the path back to full health, I discovered Full Catastrophe Living. “When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world.”
Both the book, and the programmes at Massachusetts focus on mindfulness, a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and being rather than doing.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel to Massachusetts – where 16,000 programme graduates report that they are coping more effectively with both short- and long-term stress, enjoying greater self-respect, energy, and enthusiasm for life, as well as lasting improvements in physical and psychological well-being – so I did the next best thing. I read this book from cover to cover and bought Kabat-Zinn’s four CD-set. I’m addicted to the sound of his voice during my 45 minute Body-Scan meditation.
(“The full catastrophe” is the name Zorba the Greek gave to the bump, grind and sometimes stressful richness of daily life.)
COOKING WITH FOODS THAT FIGHT CANCER
by Richard Beliveau PhD and Denis Gingras PhD
Yes, this is a recipe book. It’s the companion to Foods that Fight Cancer, the book that kick-started a revolution in our understanding of the cancer-fighting properties of food. Now we know the value of green tea, dark chocolate and red wine, how can we incorporate these foods into our daily diet in practical and creative ways? asks the blurb on the back of this full colour coffee-table book.
Cooking With Foods That Fight Cancer showed me how! It features 160 specially-created recipes (all from top restaurant chefs) from quick one-pot family meals to more impressive dishes for entertaining.
“Around one third of all cancers are directly linked to poor diet, generally characterised by a lack of foods of plant origin,” write the authors early on in the book. They then move onto the food types, and the understanding that mushrooms, garlic, berries, seaweed, flaxseed, soy, tomatoes and citrus contained cancer fighting properties gave me hope that my anti-cancer lifestyle wouldn’t have to be tasteless.
The final third of the book is recipes, carefully grouped according to type of meal (appetiser, snacks, mains, salads, soups etc) with specific instructions to make delicious meals, including estimated preparation time and an indication of the ease or diffulty of each dish.
by Eckhart Tolle
I was an Eckhart Tolle fan long before Oprah, although I admit I’ve listened to most of the podcasts of Oprah’s much-hyped, Skype-sponsored sessions with the German-born spiritual author about his most recent book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
I’ve also read Tolle’s fabulous first book about living in the moment, The Power Of Now, but it was Stillness Speaks that was most useful to me during the months of my treatment for breast cancer in 2005.
This is a small book and my copy is now severely battered from time buried deep in various handbags. Tolle invites us to sontemplate the spiritual truths which come through embracing silence and stillness. I carried it everywhere for more than half a year, opening it at random pages whenever I felt low.
Stillness Speaks is a collection of 200 concise and illuminating entries, arranged into twelve reflective themes. Three favourites:
Surrender comes when you no longer ask, “Why is this happening to me?”
Whatever you accept completely will take you to peace, including the acceptance that you cannot accept, that you are in resistance.
Feel the energy of your inner body. Immediately mental noise slows down or ceases. Feel it in your hands, your feet, your abdomen, and your chest. Feel the life that you are, the life that animates the body. The body then becomes a doorway, so to speak, into a deeper sense of aliveness underneath the fluctuating emotions and underneath your thinking.