We went here - Hidden Beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. I returned during a guided meditation.
I’m in an interesting space right now – the blissful stage between scans. Right now I can almost forget I have cancer. I’m taking Affinitor and Aromasin, two oral medications to target the estrogen driving cancer. Sure I go into my oncolgist every few weeks for a checkup and get blood drawn, but I don’t have to deal with infusions. I am fortunate that I’m not experiencing many side effects, with the exception of a bloody nose and occassional acid refux. I don’t want to think about cancer; I just want to live my life. Those of you with metastatic cancer can probably relate.
It is still in the back of my mind, however, and I’ve been driven to things to distract me from it. I have added an obsession to the games Words and Scramble with Friends to my Facebook habit. I tell myself I’m doing this to sharpen my chemo brain. I watch TV, I sometime compulsively eat … anything to numb myself from the fact that my life does not appear what it seems to be. I know in a couple of weeks, I’ll have another scan that will either show that what I’m doing is working or that it isn’t, forcing me into the medical muddle of making a decision what comes next. I simply don’t want to think about it.
This was obvious to me at a recent visit to my in-laws. A well-meaning and sweet individual asked how I was doing. Instead of saying, “Fine, how are you?” as I should have done, I gave her a medical update. And then she asked “where is your cancer now?” Ugh! I see the pained looks of people surrounding me. I don’t know if it’s out of sympathy or if they don’t want to think about it either.
I have found a healthy way to distract myself: guided meditation. When I was first diagnosed in 2002, I received a Pink Ribbon Bag from the ProScan Fund . In it was a guided meditation tape by Bellaruth Naperstek that was designed to help promote healing while going through chemotherapy. I listened to it frequently then but got out of the habit soon after. I’ve been doing an exercise/wellness program for cancer patients and again was re-introduced to guided mediation. I’ve always had trouble with traditional meditation and was amazed how easily I was able to transport myself to a beautiful healing place during the session. God must have been nudging me, because at the same time a dear friend invited me to a guided meditation group she attends regularly. And the meditation tape they used? Bellartuth Naperstek’s.
I’ve always had trouble with sitting still and meditating. I took an 8-week course and even tried walking mediation. My mind simply wandered too much and it actually caused anxiety, which is the opposite of what it’s supposed to do! I love guided meditation because, as the name indicates, it guides my monkey mind to where to focus. A calm, soothing voice tells me to focus on healing light moving throughout my body. It encourages me to visualize a beach or forest or whatever brings me peace. And I found it’s most effective for me in a group setting.
Research shows meditation can actually change the brain, and it has been used to reduce the number of symptoms experienced by patients with a wide range of
illnesses and disorders. Medical practitioners are recommending it as a therapy for panic disorder , generalized anxiety disorder, substance dependence and abuse , ulcers, colitis, chronic pain , psoriasis, and dysthymic disorder. It also has been used as an adjunctive therapy for prevention of cardiac arrest ( heart attack ), stroke and yes, even cancer.
For me, it’s a way to take a vacation or a hike in the woods without going anywhere. And even if it that is the only benefit, I think it’s worth it.
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