This past weekend I left the east coast and headed west to Sonoma, California to advocate for brain cancer awareness at The Pirelli World Challenge. While there, a 6.0 earthquake rocked the wine country. And I slept right through it.
We live on plates pushing against each other, and one day they violently pull apart, leaving destruction in their path. Cancer is like an earthquake. When you're diagnosed, your whole world rips apart, leaving devastation and plenty of aftershock in its wake.
In retrospect, it was reminiscent of my initial diagnosis where I essentially slept through the doctor telling me I had cancer because I felt like I was floating above the clinic room. I did not fully digest all the information right away -- it came later on in waves.
You never expect the aftershock. Well, you never expect the initial "BOOM" either, aka the "You have cancer" moment. But it's the aftershock that is even sneakier. It leaves you shaking because you thought the worst was over.
They can come in many forms anything from sudden panic attacks to overall anxiety. Something I noticed was how the aftershocks changed when I came home from treatment. Treatment time felt like one big protected bubble. I knew where I would be everyday and what would be expected of me. Now that I'm back home, I know where I'll be each day, but I'm not interacting with nurses and doctors on an everyday basis, yet rather my parents, little brother and sister -- each of whom have a very deep personal investment in my well being. An investment that sometimes can cause more anxiety and weight to the already heavy circumstance.
The greatest challenge of getting through the shocks is the fact that it feels like you're the only one that can feel them. No one looks to be shaking, but you.
What helps me ride somewhat peacefully through the shocks is reiki and reflexology. Reiki is when an energy healer lightly puts their hands on or slightly above your body. It works to restore the "life force energy" within the body. High "life force energy" means a healthy individual whereas low "life force energy" means the opposite. After a reiki session you leave feeling at peace and balanced. In conjunction with reiki I also find reflexology helpful.
Reflexology is different than reiki in that actual pressure is used on the feet to target specific energy zones within the body to release the tension to allow for energy flow and in turn healing. In my case my energy healer focuses on my big toe mainly because the big toe is representative of the head. Sometimes when she is working I feel tingles in my head where my tumor is located. At first it scared me, but now after everything I've been through it comforts me knowing that what she is doing is working. After a session combining both reiki and reflexology I leave feeling at peace and free from anxiety, which is next to impossible these days.
Everyone, cancer or not, deals with aftershocks. They can ripple through our lives causing anxiety, depression and a host of other issues until we confront them. After a huge catastrophe in your life it unfortunately doesn't end there; we have to deal with the debris around us. It's all about how we choose to work through the debris. Do we let it pile up on top of us or do we pick up the trash and slowly throw it away piece by piece?
I'm very slowly throwing the trash away by using strategies such as reiki and reflexology, but there are so many other ways as well. What helps you get through your aftershock? Let me know in the comment section below!