By Debby Kowit Are you a cancer survivor? I might be. Like many, I have been through the fear and angst of trying to decide what to do about a lump – which in my case never ended up being diagnosed.
Let me explain.
At the time I was not a stranger to cancer. My mother had passed on from it nearly two decades earlier and I had already spent many years working amidst the medical community. In fact, at the time of this occurrence, I was managing the business office of, believe it or not, a Medical Oncology practice.
Needless to say, the detection of a lump brought a surge of fear. Add the anxiety that our patients and their families brought daily to this Oncology office and I had a recipe for overwhelming stress.
Helping people deal with stress is a key element in treatment according to the website of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Inquirers want to know, “How can I protect myself against the effects of stress?” The Foundation’s answer shares that, “People with better support tend to have better functioning immune systems.”
Support was definitely what I needed.
Increasingly, doctors are realizing the need to care for the whole person rather than the physical problem alone. Dr. Jordan Grumet, in his video, blogs and social media comments, says that physicians can do a better job of developing caring relationships with their patients. And, he wants to see the profession grow in humility and humanity to provide better healing.
I couldn’t agree more. In my own experience, however, support came from a different angle. I was drawn to an undeniable spiritual element that helped to change my course. I began to pray daily. In my silent prayer I was not only asking for help but more importantly I was quietly watching and listening for new ideas.
To console myself and clear my thinking during this period, I would also reach for a Bible, open it at random and read. One passage that became a favorite was from the book of Isaiah, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;”
I pondered the meaning of those words often over the next few days and weeks. In my free time I also read and studied additional Bible passages to gain a clearer understanding of my relationship to God. Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The calm and exalted thought or spiritual apprehension is at peace. Thus the dawn of ideas goes on, forming each successive stage of progress.” And, it was certainly a time of great spiritual progress for me.
Co-Authors, Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD acknowledge in their article titled, You Can Transform Your Own Biologythat the mind-body connection is strong. They suggest that we have the ability to direct our own health. My experience, however, felt more like I was letting God do the directing. I was not trying to cure the lump. I just wanted to feel calm. And, as I refused to allow fear to consume my thinking, a feeling of peace and confidence slowly replaced the terror. The mild pain I initially experienced stopped increasing, then completely dissipated.
Probably several weeks or maybe even months went by before I thought again about seeking a diagnosis. By then, the lump was gone and it has not returned. Since that incident – 20 years ago now – I’ve been free of any sign of cancer. I’ve also continued to recognize the role fear plays in my health and make sure I don’t let it overwhelm my thinking.
Debby Kowit blogs on the link between spirituality and wellness and the positive impact of healthy thinking on our lives. She is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Pennsylvania. You can follow her on Twitter @PAComPub