Last September I found a lump under my arm while having a shower, and within 10 days had a diagnosis of early breast cancer that had also affected a couple of lymph nodes under my arm.
"No-one expects to get cancer, and I'm no exception -
I had never felt healthier and there is absolutely no history of cancer in my family."
Fortunately I had begun a regular daily meditation practice several years before which gave me an enormous advantage when it came to dealing with the inevitable shock and fear that follows such a diagnosis. I had joined Vicki's meditation class towards the end of 2011 when I felt I needed more guidance than the the books I'd been using could give me. The weekly meeting and hour of practice became an essential support throughout my journey through the surgery, then chemotherapy and radiotherapy that followed.
I found I was able, not all, but a lot of the time, to stay in the moment, rather than waste energy fretting about future problems or treatments. I could genuinely enjoy the good parts of my days, without ignoring or denying the nasty parts.
I had also taken the opportunity to enrol in a Reiki One class early last year, which added an extra layer to my meditation practice, as well as giving me another tool to help me deal with the physical and mental rollercoaster I found myself on. I had had a few Reiki treatments before doing the class, but my understanding of the meditative basis and healing benefits possible from treatments, as well as the ability to self-heal, were much clearer afterwards.
The extraordinary deep relaxation I felt during a treatment stayed with me for days afterwards and helped enormously.
I established a routine with Vicki once I began chemotherapy, in which I had a treatment the day before, or on the morning of each 3 weekly chemotherapy infusion, and then fortnightly, after I began the daily radiotherapy treatment. These Reiki treatments were all slightly different, and sometimes resulted in less pleasant effects, such as a bout of diarrhoea, which were an integral part of the support they gave my body during the stresses of the chemotherapy in particular.
As Hamlet says, 'there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so', and I have learnt the truth of this all over again during the last, nearly nine months of my cancer journey so far. Attitude and mindfulness are all-important in tackling the surprises that life throws at us on a regular basis, and a regular meditation practice, with Reiki treatments to back it up, have helped me maintain a kind of equilibrium throughout this particular surprising and difficult episode in my life.
I'd like to add a heartfelt 'Thank You' to Vicki, and to the members of my meditation class just for being there over this time. It's meant more than you might imagine.