Yesterday, I visited with a young couple. The young man has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and will soon start on another round of six ‘treatments.’ I single quote that word because chemotherapy drugs are so harsh it’s hard to think of them as treatments.
First, a disclaimer: These ways of healing are what worked for me during and after my cancer treatments eight years ago. Two methods are what works for another cancer patient. Discuss your use of any pain relief methods with your doctor.
The young man looked so much better than I expected, he still had some hair, his eyebrows and mustache, his face wasn’t gaunt. I expected him to look like I did after chemo–bald, pale, tired. Different types of cancer, different chemo treatments.
We talked about how he felt, both physically and emotionally. I think it was hard for his fiancé to hear us talk, but she knew he needed to talk.
He asked me how I dealt with the physical pain, especially the tenderness of the scalp, fingers, palms, the joint pain that doesn’t let you sleep, the stomach distress. The pain meds the doctor prescribed did very little to ease pain.
We shared our stories.
These are some ways that helped me heal and cope with the pain of cancer and healing from cancer.
- Meditation music temporarily helped, especially with stress, but also with pain . I slapped on earbuds, played pleasurable music (I seemed to prefer water sounds) and zoned out for a couple of hours. Many hospitals, community centers teach meditation and mindfulness. Dr. Lisa Rankin talks about this and more in her book, Mind Over Medicine.
- Reiki (Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”). This was offered at the cancer center I attended. I was a skeptic, but now I’m a believer. You can find more about reiki here.
“Whatever you do, don’t take Marinol (concentrated THC in pill form). It didn’t help at all with my nausea, just gave me the munchies,” I said.
You should have seen the expression on his face, hearing that I ingested Marinol (under doctor directions) and wished California had medical Marijuana back then. He smiled and said he tried an “Edible,” which is marijuana baked into a food like a brownie or cake pop. It dulled his pain for a couple of hours and didn’t hurt his stomach like the pain pills.
This is legal in California if you have a medical marijuana card. In Colorado you don’t need a card (other than proof of age, 21) and they have strains of marijuana that are lower in THC and higher in CBD (Cannabidiol)a major, non-psychoactive component of cannabis that helps shrink inflammation and reduce pain without inducing the euphoria effects of THC. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about this in his CNN program about medical marijuana. Several studies are researching placing marijuana into a pill for pain relief.
There is an old remedy used in Mexico, and here, where a liniment is made from soaking marijuana in alcohol for a couple of weeks and applying it on painful joints. (I know of a couple of elderly people who use this for their rheumatoid arthritis and they say it works.)
4. Juicing vegetable and fruits. I wanted to heal myself from the inside out. The dietician at the cancer center emphasized 6-8 servings of vegetables/fruit daily. It was so much easier to drink the juice of carrots, apples, celery, spinach than to eat them, especially when you’re nauseous or don’t feel like eating. I still juice a few times a month or buy a vegetable and fruit combo at Trader Joe’s or a health food store.
5. Positive affirmations and prayer, every day. During my cancer recuperation I bought a deck of 64 Wisdom Cards by Louise Hay. The card above and quote below resonated with me.
“The moment I say positive affirmations, I step out of the victim role. I am no longer helpless…I’m taking the next step for my healing.”
Healing really comes from a mind, body, and soul connection. I’m not saying it will cure your illness. For me, I became more holistic in my ideas about healing. Dr. Deepak Chopra has a wealth of information about holistic healing.
6. Hope: This couple made a bucket list of places and experiences they want to enjoy when chemo is completed or on the young man’s ‘good days.’ They look to the future, believing the cancer will be healed. They have hope. Together they tackle the pain of the present and look to the future.
I left our visit hopeful for this young man’s full recovery. I look forward to his marriage, the creation of a family, and the end of cancer appearing in his life ever again, or mine, or your own.