Cancer doesn’t have to rob you of your joy and peace. In fact, if you choose, it can serve as an opportunity for tremendous personal growth, insight, and deeper healing. Psychologist and cancer survivor Susan Apollon’s new book, An Inside Job, offers insight into the true nature of healing and how to tap into your personal power during a cancer challenge.
Anyone facing a cancer diagnosis is no doubt walking through one of life’s darker valleys. But amidst the doctors’ visits, unfamiliar treatments, anxiety, and fear that follow a cancer diagnosis, it’s crucial that cancer patients maintain a sense of stability and peace along their journey.
“Cancer is a wake-up call, and the way you choose to answer it is very important,” says Susan Apollon, author of An Inside Job: A Psychologist Shares Healing Wisdom for Your Cancer Journey (Matters of the Soul, LLC; 2017; ISBN: 978-0-9754036-0-0; $24.95; www.aninsidejobforhealingcancer.com). “When cancer comes into your life, it is vital to embrace the idea of healing from the inside out. Healing from cancer goes far beyond a physical approach; it is a matter of the soul.”
Apollon, who herself has survived breast cancer, explains that fear is the greatest obstacle in facing and overcoming a cancer challenge. It manifests in the form of stress, depression, and anxiety, and hinders your healing potential. Learning to answer that fear by showing yourself unconditional love allows you to meet your cancer challenge head-on and gives you the best chances for beating it.
“Well-being is made up of so much more than physical health,” says Apollon. “Therefore your healing potential is greatest when you care for your mind, body, and soul. You must use every possible resource to maintain a healthy and functioning immune system. When you learn to answer fear by tapping into love, hope, and joy, you will make a beneficial shift toward healing that so many never realize they can achieve.”
Full of practical tips on how to care for your body, mind, and spirit; advice from cancer specialists; and true stories that will validate, comfort, and support you, An Inside Job is a valuable resource for anyone facing cancer. Read on for just a few of Apollon’s principles of healing.
Choose to see cancer as a gift. When you receive a cancer diagnosis, the last thing you feel is grateful, but Apollon points out that you have a choice in how you view everything that happens to you. You can choose to lock onto fear and negativity, and spiral into despair, or you can let cancer be a catalyst for learning once and for all how to take care of yourself.
“Here’s what often occurs,” says Apollon. “Years before your cancer diagnosis, life moves you along, and you deal with the problems and obstacles it puts in your path. You don’t chart your own course, you compromise, and you allow stress to dominate you. But hearing ‘you have cancer’ causes you to shift your perspective about the life you’ve been living. And when you understand the truth that the responsibilities of life aren’t worth it, you’re free to fix whatever is not working in your life and start caring for yourself in a way you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) before. Even as you work to meet the challenging demands of cancer, you can live freer and healthier than you have in the past. In this way, it is a gift and an opportunity.”
Allow yourself to grieve. For many, a cancer diagnosis causes tremendous grief?not only for your diagnosis, but from unprocessed past grief as well. Fully experiencing this grief, instead of holding it in, is healthy and natural. Apollon insists that you must allow yourself to grieve fully and points out that grieving is very different from wallowing in negative thinking.
“We all grieve differently, and it can manifest in different ways,” says Apollon. “You may be numb, weepy, anxious, or even panic-stricken. Remember, it’s okay to have the symptoms you’re having?whatever they are?and it’s okay to work with a professional if you need some extra help. Taking the time and the steps to process your grief, whenever it occurs, is the greatest gift you can give yourself.”
Utilize crucial tools for healing. In addition to your medical treatment plan, there are steps you can take to balance your energies and increase your healing. Remember that a cancer diagnosis signals the loss of your life as you knew it, and after grieving this loss, it’s very important to let go of lingering feelings of negativity, fear, and stress.
An Inside Job offers countless exercises to help you raise your vibrational energy and become fully present as you move forward along your cancer journey. Apollon delves into various modalities to help patients release the past and tune into their bodies and souls. She explains that integrative practices like meditation, mindfulness, energy medicine, and energy psychology can help you better tune into your needs and encourage healing.
One easy exercise from An Inside Job is Apollon’s technique Face/Embrace/(Breathe)/Replace. Here’s how to do it. Anytime you are conscious of feeling “not good,” place your dominant hand on your heart and ask, What am I feeling: good or not good? Then, when you receive an obvious “not good” response, place your hand on your forehead and ask yourself, What am I thinking that is creating the pain in my heart? When you are facing cancer, these thoughts might include, I am afraid of dying, or, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. Once you have identified the feeling, and the thought creating the feeling, it’s time to truly acknowledge and release it. Embrace and feel your emotions?no matter what they may be?and do not discount them. Next, use your breath to enhance the release of this emotion, by breathing in the energy of peace, and exhaling the energy of the toxic thought as you imagine your body filling with warmth, love, and peace. Finally, for at least 30 seconds or more, replace your “not good” thought with a feel-better image or thought, using all your senses, that makes your heart sing. (This is equivalent to creating a feel-good virtual reality movie.) Use this tool any time you need to process anxiety, worry, or distress. When you are finished, do something?anything (such as making a phone call, running an errand, cleaning something)?that serves as a distraction. Repeat when a distressing feeling arises. The more you practice this, the easier and more effective it is.
Use the law of attraction to affirm better health. Apollon explains that we live in an energetic universe and that we, including our thoughts, are energy. She also emphasizes that like energy attracts like energy. Therefore, the words you say to yourself matter greatly and affect the level at which your energy vibrates. In order to support healing, your energetic vibrations need to be high.
“If you choose to dwell in anger, bitterness, and grief, not only will you feel bad emotionally, but the low vibrations you’re emitting will also weaken your immune system and slow healing,” asserts Apollon. “It’s vital to think feel-good thoughts and affirm gratitude. Positive affirmations can help with this process. Each day?and especially when you feel yourself slipping into despair?say a few affirmations to support your healing.”
Here are a few affirmations Apollon recommends: I am healing, little by little; I am aligned with my heart; I am love and I am loved; I am grateful for my blessings; My chemo and medications are helping to eliminate cancer.
Treat nutrition as medicine. If you are dealing with cancer, please become familiar with the concept of food as medicine, insists Apollon. She explains that it’s especially important to be vigilant about what you’re eating when you’re ill, because many illnesses, including cancer, thrive on specific types of foods?while other foods help defend against diseases.
An Inside Job covers many dietary guidelines for those facing cancer, but here are a few basic principles to remember. Avoid processed foods and drinks and focus on eating whole foods instead; eat and buy organic whenever possible; eat plentiful antioxidant-rich vegetables, which stimulate your immune system; cut out refined sugar as soon as possible as it feeds cancer cells; consume omega-3 fatty acids through coldwater fish such as sardines, cod, salmon, halibut, and mackerel; and filter your drinking water to remove unknown toxins, heavy metals, and chloride.
Do something selfless. (It helps you more than you realize!) While cancer does require you to be selfish with your energy, it’s important to also realize that any time you spend helping others also expedites your healing. Apollon explains that doing good for others raises your vibrational energy and supports healing.
“Having a positive impact on the world will feel right to you on a heart level,” comments Apollon. “In turn, these feelings will set off a chain reaction of happiness and healing in your body. Furthermore, when you’re actively engaged in helping someone else, you don’t have time to wallow in a sea of worry, grief, and self-pity. Try to find a cause that means something to you and find a way to help, whether by organizing a fundraiser, teaching others a skill, or simply performing small, meaningful acts of kindness.”
When choosing your healing team, think integrative medicine. Today, cancer patients have impressive options for their medical treatment, but Apollon advises you to consider an integrative approach when selecting your healing team. Yes, it is important to take advantage of all modern medicine has to offer, but it is equally vital to find healers who will listen to you, treat you as an individual, and help you choose a protocol that supports your body, mind, and spirit.
“We are lucky to live in a time when Eastern medicine is being honored and married with Western medicine,” asserts Apollon. “A holistic approach recognizes you as an energetic being and allows you to restore well-being in a variety of ways. My patients meet with their oncologists and surgeons for chemo, radiation, and surgeries, but they also incorporate acupuncture, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, tai chi, qigong, yoga, nutrition programs, herbal supplements, and meditation and mindfulness into their healing routines. This allows them to care for their whole bodies and souls?and many have experienced physical healing as well as an improved quality of life.”
“Though nobody wants to receive a cancer diagnosis, your perspective moving forward will greatly impact the level of healing you achieve,” concludes Apollon. “Answering cancer with unconditional love for yourself and giving your whole self the energy, nourishment, and peace it requires will unburden your body and prepare you for greater healing.”
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