In the 2019 Sundance awarding-winning movie The Farewell by director Lulu Wang, there is a powerful scene where the uncle expresses a common Chinese philosophy about cancer: “People don’t die of cancer — they die of the fear.” This dialogue occurs between the granddaughter of the diagnosed grandmother and her uncle. The family has chosen NOT to tell the aging grandmother that she has Stage 4 Lung cancer; that it is the family’s responsibility to “carry her” through her journey without telling her the extent of the dis-ease.
That statement in the movie is a powerful truth that is expressed in the Asian culture. Being afraid is common when you first discover you have cancer. There are ways that you can gently manage your emotions so that they become your allies, not your enemies on your healing journey. (PS – This movie is a “must watch”! Spoiler alert – it has a happy ending which supports how powerful your mindset can be.)
Science Confirms Emotions Play a Part in Healing
There is a strong and growing list of evidence-based research studies to support the fact that our emotions affect our ability to heal. In fact, there is a connection between doctor-instigated fear brought on by a cancer diagnosis resulting in both suicide and heart attacks. A 2012 Swedish study cites, “Cancer patients were 5.6 times more likely to die from heart-related causes, such as heart attack, in the days after receiving a positive cancer diagnosis, not from the cancer but from the heartbreak and devastation wrought by the news.” This connection was seen especially within the first 12 weeks after diagnosis. It was also most prevalent in those individuals that had received a “terminal” diagnosis.
Negative Emotions Feed Cancer
There is another piece of the mind-body-emotions connection concerning cancer that occurs at the cellular level. Cancer cells “advertise,” so to speak, for adrenaline by putting out what are called adrenergic receptors. These receptors respond to the overabundance of stress hormones (also called catecholamine hormones) that naturally occurs during stress. The result, which has been documented by a handful of studies so far, is poor treatment results when using chemotherapy and poor prognosis in general. In some cancers, the overabundance of adrenaline can even lead to an increased expression of certain oncogenes and mechanisms that insure cancer cell survival.
What You Can Do
Your body can heal faster and in more profound ways than ever before when it is placed in an environment that it can do so. In fact, making the slightest change to lifestyle and diet can often slant the body towards healing. A study led by Dr. Dean Ornish found that simple lifestyle/dietary changes helped to up-regulate 48 tumor-suppressing genes and down-regulate over 400 tumor-promoting ones!
Take Time Every Day to Turn Fear into Healing
When I first began my second healing journey with Breast Cancer, I often woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat reacting to the subconscious fear, as well as the shock and “disappointment” in my myself. Eventually, as I dove into the work of healing, the fear turned to gratitude, hope, and a firm conviction that I was doing all that I could to turn things around. This is what I wish for you, but you must take it one step at a time. The power of this path lies in the little actions you take every day. Here are six such steps you can start today:
1. Have a Healing Plan That Works for You
Your worries will lessen when you know that you are doing all that you can to be proactive about your healing. Few of us are 100% confident that all of the choices we have made along the way are the “correct” ones. What we can do, however, is to put a protocol plan in place that we can feel confident in, based on our research, the consultation of healing professionals we respect, and our own intuitive “gut” feeling about our own bodies.
2. Get Support
Surround yourself with individuals who will support you in whatever decisions you make. These individuals don’t necessarily have to be your closest family members and friends (and many times, they are not). Hundreds of women have found a supportive, like-minded community through the 7 Essentials System™ Healing Diva retreats, one-one coaching, group coaching and other support services.
3. Do Your Emotional Work
If you have fears that linger or turn into anxiety, depression or hopelessness, they may be connected to unresolved traumas. Trauma can be created by the experience of the cancer diagnosis itself, or may have been formed years ago. The good news is that there are many modalities that can assist you in healing them, and the chronic stress that accompanies them. Emotional Freedom Technique (i.e. Tapping) and EMDR are two proven techniques.
4. Connect to a Source of Inspiration Larger Than You
Studies have found that those who have a regular spiritual practice such as prayer have significantly decreased stress responses in general.
5. Do Activities You Enjoy
Take up a hobby you have always wanted to try. Watch a funny movie. Enjoy a good belly laugh with a friend. Pet a cat. Take a dog for a walk. Paint a picture. Dance to a piece of music. Curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Volunteer. Take the time to really enjoy life, unplug from your worries and reconnect to the beauty of life every day.
6. Practice Gratitude Every Day
Take the time to appreciate all the good things in your life right now. Write them down in a gratitude journey.
If you do this practice and the others mentioned every day, feelings of gratitude, hope and faith in your body’s ability to heal will begin to grow exponentially within you. What’s more, your Healthy Breast journey will be more successful and better for it overall.
Dr. Véronique Desaulniers, better known as Dr. V, is the founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror® and the 7 Essentials System®, and co-founder of My Breast Friend™. Her signature process has empowered thousands of women in over 56 countries around the world. Her mission is to “save lives, one breast at a time.” Dr. V has personally conquered breast cancer twice, which gives her an empathetic perspective to understand other women facing a healing journey. Our coaching programs are designed to calm the fears, clear the confusion, and support you in your ultimate goal of creating vibrant health.
If you are feeling confused, frustrated and overwhelmed, please reach out to email@example.com. 1-888-852-2596.