Back from those days where I was afraid to deal with anything real until I’ve got to face a painful reality that I could not really imagine how to deal with.
What’s the painful reality? That I — am sick, alone, and dying — anytime soon!
Hearing those three little words, “You have cancer” makes me confused and scared that I could not bear to tell anyone.
Back from those days where I — was — a person who cannot tame my brain’s emotional response. Where in every positive or negative pitch life has given, I usually tend to react where I tend to judge either myself or other people and make a comparison from everyone that surrounds me or even to myself.
Now, that I had come to realize that I needed to claim this. This was very hard. For how many times I need to deal with myself, I have to claim my cancer. I have to accept this painful reality.
Accepting this painful reality of having cancer, another painful reality arises. Where anxiety, depression, sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness are limitless and uncontrollable.
Being diagnosed with cancer and a crisis management in dealing emotions and stress are both closely associated with each other.
Six months of treatment, from my surgical removal to acupuncture (6 sessions) and the last was radiation therapy (35 sessions).
Of all these treatments I had gone through, the surgery — it did not only cut my skin and left a scar but also cut me off from certain friends or even family members. The acupuncture — it did not only stabbed my body with needles and left blood in certain areas of my body but also stabbed my heart for this is not the life I was expecting. The radiation therapy — it did not only burn my skin but also burned my soul. I feel like I was already doomed to death — but, I have to suffer first!
Now, treatment was done, and everyone thought, “I’m okay”! Everyone thought that I was so fortunate that I was able to beat cancer!
Yes — my battle with cancer was done. But, the battle with depression has continued.
Well, even I — I thought I was okay, too. Until then, I went back to Vietnam after my treatment in the Philippines. I felt so sorry and embarrassed whenever friends and colleagues tell me each time they meet me that I lose weight. You know what’s more annoying? When they did not tell me those the same words, once — in fact, twice, thrice or umpteenth times! No matter how I convince them I was okay and I am just coping, there are still those people who get on my nerves.
So there you see, my reaction after those people keep telling me how I lose weight, or worse is I still look “sick”.
I was even confused how to act being tough whenever I was pounded with negative questions people were asking me for being mentally strong.
Until I realized that I have to stay away from these people, try to manage my emotions and learn how to understand, accept, and manage my feelings first.
For 5 months, after I was able to go back to Vietnam, I tried to cut off some people from my circle. Though things did not go well as I wish to happen, with perseverance, I was able to deal the rollercoaster ride and started being mindful and managed my emotions especially when it is in crisis.
For 5 months, I learned deeper about guided imagery. It is a mental imagery process where sometimes it is commonly called as guided meditation, visualization, mental rehearsal, and guided-hypnosis. Where it follows the usual process: the correct posture (vertical position, either sitting on a chair or a floor or lying down on a bed), eyes closed and breathing.
I have been doing this for almost 5 months — quietly. I started doing this after I did some research and I decided to make this practice a part of coping with my cancer journey.
As I continue doing the practice of guided imagery, it taught me about being mindful and non-reactive to every situation I might put up with.
Mindfulness — knowing what is going on at the moment. Being present with the “now” instead of looking back to the past or being anxious to the present.
Non-reaction where it helps me to deepen the connection I have with myself especially to my emotions. Whatever may happen in my surroundings it is up to me if I will react or not. Whether it could be positive or negative.
Well, I don’t mean that if I am very grateful for someone’s good deed towards me, I will not show a euphoric feeling at that very moment. Of course, I must show my appreciation in order to continue a good relationship with anyone I am connected with.
It is necessary to remember as well to make everything in balanced whether it could be a good or bad experience. Our life is constantly changing. And if we are not able to control how we react, an attachment is connected to our emotions and without being aware of, we already place expectations to the other person.
And when we seeded expectations, that someone who used to make you happy at some point will make you upset and disappointed. Eventually, it will create a negative impact and the separation from others who you used to be closed with begins. Either they will stop talking, create a space in between and keep a distance from you or worse get into an argument. And these are not healthy and helpful for someone who is coping with cancer treatment.
Each one of us is responsible for the way we react to different life’s circumstances, so instead of reacting, we may shift this into a response that is able for you or me to create a more balanced state of conscious and non-reactive mind.
That is why we meditate. We breathe in as we feel the tension, and breathe out to release that tension.
Likewise, if there is any negative pitch had thrown to me, I choose to stay positive and move forward.
Now, when I am being asked randomly, why I am so calm now to any circumstances I am facing. Well, I am doing this for myself first because I respect and honor my body and second to take care each relationship I am involved to anyone around me, whether it could be a colleague, friend or family.
I am just a human being, sometimes I missed to remind myself to be mindful and non-reactive.
Although I had already learned enough from practicing this guided imagery and benefitted positive result from it, there are also times that I get anxious, sad or hopeless.
But the only good thing is, with enough information how guided imagery has helped me cope with my cancer journey, it is always there to remind me to pause or stop whenever I was in the state of negativity or toxicity.
This article is only a testimony how guided imagery works (especially guided meditation) for the author while she was coping with her cancer journey. According to one of her research results, one of the articles from cancer.net, had indicated that as many as 15-25% of people with cancer experience depression and it is more common for people with cancer who often struggle with uncertainty, challenges and fear that a cancer diagnosis can bring. And she is hoping that this article might give some convincing impression that can convey them that this practice can help identify and manage their emotions while facing cancer treatment and will not add to the burden of battling cancer.
There are other ways to treat and manage the rising crisis of emotions. Stay tuned, for this will be the next article soon.
Any thoughts you want to add from your own experience regarding with the practice of guided imagery?
Just leave your comments below.
Cielo Superticioso, is the author of The Cancer Voice Asia created last August 2017. She starts the advocacy of The Cancer Voice after she successfully beat cancer in Saigon, Vietnam by writing articles. She is committed and determined to continue the campaign in order to strengthen the cancer awareness because no one should fight cancer alone.