Breast Cancer Mini Series With Dr. Dilley (Part 4 of 4)

Dr. Robin DilleyBreast Cancer – Learning To Heal And Grow

The Messenger by the River – Another Lesson from The Miller’s Daughter: Part Four
Dr. Robin Dilley, licensed psychologist.

One character in this story that gets little attention is the Messenger.  We find the Messenger once the King’s wife gives birth to their child. The King went off to war when the King’s wife was pregnant. The Messenger plays an important role in the story and in our lives, especially when are trying to cope with a life-threatening disease like cancer.  The Messenger in this story falls asleep by the river.  In order to understand the importance of the miscommunication that takes place, we will look at five separate parts:

The significance of the River: Throughout ancient times, River’s metaphorically represent spirituality. The baby Moses was placed in a basket and sent down the river where his mother knew the Queen would find him and raise him as her own. John the Baptist was baptized in the river. What are some of your River stories?
This is the second time in this story that we find the significance of water. Water represents healing on so many levels and as far as I know, no one has ever had a significant spiritual relationship without confusion in the mind and the heart.

The Messenger who falls asleep:  This character falls asleep at the river twice.  During your journey with breast cancer, you are going to experience your messenger falling asleep many times.  The car ride from your oncology appointment to your home is going to become a mumble jumble of “What did the oncologist say and what in the world did s/he mean by that?”  If you are one of the lucky ones that has a friend or family member accompany you to the oncologist’s office, you will still think/feel that the two of your were in different rooms as each of you will recall the doctor’s visit so differently.

The Strange Character that switches the message (which for the purpose of this story I will call our brain):
 The more we learn about our brains, its chemistry, and the way it processes information, the better we become at understanding why and how things go wrong in simple conversations.  The brain is an amazing computer that programs itself to focus on the information it is given.  We build positive pathways in our life by focusing on positive feelings, thoughts, and actions.  We often create our own distress by focusing on only the “what ifs”, the negative, and the internal judgments we make against each other and ourselves.

The messages get switched twice, once with “Your wife has given birth to half dog and half human.”  And the second message, “Kill my wife and child and save the tongue and eyes to prove it.”

That is exactly how harsh our brains are to us.  As humans, we are pre-conditioned to the negative and when something traumatic like breast cancer comes out of nowhere, our brain makes our life very confusing.  Negative chatter starts and does not let up easily.

The King’s unconditional love:
 When the King gets the first message that his wife has given birth to the half-dog and half-human, at first he is distressed.  But, he writes back and says “Love her and love the child.”

However, often times we find love to be intolerable to our soul and when we receive it, our brain reacts with a strong negative feeling like in the second mixed message, “Kill my wife and the child.”  It often sounds something like this in your head, “I deserve to die with this because of that awful thing I did in the past” or “God does not love me as much as those without cancer. “

Then there is that whole part of our journey with Breast Cancer where we come to understand and have to learn to live with the whole phenomena of chemo brain.  Chemo brain is the brain fog that settles around our synapses and creates memory loss, slow speech, slow recall, and that general malaise of blankness because the brain is overwhelmed with drugs, major information, and millions of confusing feelings all vying for attention NOW.

The King’s Mother’s Wisdom: When the Messenger returns to the King’s Mother the note reads, “Kill her and kill
the child.  Keep the eyes and tongue as proof they are dead.”  The King has to be obeyed so the King’s Mother wraps the child to the breast of the Mother and sends her out to the forest.  The King’s Mother kills a doe and saves the eyes and tongue as proof.
Breast Cancer leaves us with scars, sometimes lifetime emotional and physical scars.  They are the proof that we have been traumatized and have wounds. They are the eyes and tongue of our innocence of immortality.  That innocence is forever gone.  However, we have new life, opportunity, and creativity attached to us and we are sent on our way to heal and grow our own hands.  Right after treatment, we still have the hands of the medical community and once that is finished we must go again and recreate our future.

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

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  1. […] 4 Learning How To Heal And Grow Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast […]


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