Labyrinth Walking: A Healing Tool For Cancer Patients

Tool For Cancer PatientsLabyrinth
Walking can be a healing tool for cancer patients. In many ways the labyrinth represents the journey to healing. Healing is not only physical but also occurs on the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. A physical healing is often described as a cure. While a cure might not be possible, healing is always an option. To be healed means to be made whole, and wholeness is fundamentally a psychological and spiritual process of finding meaning. The labyrinth can be used as a tool of healing to help people find meaning in their situation.  You can find more healing tools in the book ABC Workbook for Cancer Patients.

A portable canvas labyrinth can be used and cancer patients are encouraged to walk it as a symbolic journey to recovery and healing. It is suggested that you think about your life from diagnosis through treatment up until the present moment and to relate your journey to the labyrinth walk.

Suggested questions

  1. What is the most important lesson your illness and recovery has taught you?
  2. How has your illness had a positive effect on your life?
  3. How has it affected your relationships?
  4. In what ways are you more whole than before you illness?
  5. What about your illness are you grateful for?
  6. How has your spirit been influenced?
  7. What is required for continued healing?

The path towards healing is not straight and often you feel lost. Perseverance is required to complete the journey. The center represents treatment and the journey out is toward recovery and acceptance. People come and go on the journey. The whole process occurs in the container and context of love and spirit. You feel more connected and relaxed

.Suggested Cancer Self-Help Healing Book:

Writing Your Way to Healing and Wholeness

In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer 

ABC Workbook for Cancer Patients.

Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful Practices: Self Care Tools For Treatment & Recovery

The Gap: An Important Mindfulness Technique

I had the pleasure of listening to Pema Chodron (Buddhist Monk and author) and KD Lang (Musician, singer, songwriter) in a conversation this morning on Live Stream. I was struck by several things, but the one that stood out for me is the concept of the Gap. I want to share the concept of the Gap with you, the reader.

The Gap is that in between space where you come to understand the presence of NOW. It is that moment when you look up from a hiking path and notices the sky, the tree, or the bird. The Gap is a sacred space within, when you realize you are part of the outer world.

It seems to me that as people living in the world of cancer, you can use the practice of the Gap regardless of where you are on your path. For instance, fall is my favorite time of the year and I am so excited about its arrival. that I know I will have many Gap moments when I see beautiful leaves dropping the magic of their colors on the ground as they leave naked branches ready for winter. What Gap moments might you look forward to this fall? What magical part of the day will you practice breathing into the Now. The Gap is that space within you that allows you to breathe deeply from the inside out.

As people experiencing cancer life can become very ugly and painful as rancid smells and nauseating waves of emotion run askew inside of your inner darkness. It is important that you do not live in the darkness. Pema Chodron might say something like, “Don’t run from the darkness, touch it, explore it and move on past it.” The practice of the Gap is a tool to help you move past the darkness into the NOW.

Looking for something good and magical in your day will help you practice the Gap and stay in the Now. If you can’t see magic in your day then create magic in your day. If you are irritated with not getting the results you want with your health care, then focus on something else that you have control over. For instance, purchase some fall flowers. Take time to have a Gap moment with those flowers. Smell them, touch them and notice how each one is uniquely different from every other one. Have you ever noticed that no two flowers are exactly alike? Notice the nuances in the shades of the colors, notice the stems. Notice each flower as you arrange it in the vase. These flowers traveled from rich fertile soil and were “harvested” for your delight. All cut flowers will die. But each flower has its own elegance, story, and purpose in your life today. That purpose is here to bring you joy and to put a gentle smile on your face. Enjoying flowers is a Gap moment. Take a breath and look up and see your room come to life because you placed a vase of flowers on your night stand or kitchen table. You took the time to create a Gap that brings you delight.

As you learn to experience Gap moments, be the Gap in someone else’s life today. Pick up the phone and call a friend and tell them how much they mean to you. Send a card to someone who needs a connection. Smile at the clerk in the grocery store and tell them, “I hope you have a really good day,” as you look them in the eye. Be the Gap in other people’s lives daily and you will experience more Gap moments in your day-to-day life that is full of the necessary medical appointments, follow-ups and tests. I even imagine your health care team will respond to you more positively if you are practicing Gap moments in your life.

See you are not cancer. You are not your disease. You are a person with many roles and facets to your life. Don’t let cancer define you. Smile, in spite, of the cancer. Bring smiles to other people’s lives. Make a difference today and you will be happier because you did.

For more information and exercises for cancer patients read Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful Practices.

Dr. Robin Dilley

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.

21 Key Points To Make Your Life Meaningful Today

21 Key points to a meaningful lifeIt is hard to get into your home without a KEY. Your car will not start without a KEY. The KEY to your safe protects your valuables and as you get older (if you are like me) you spend a bit of time trying to locate your KEYS. The KEY to this post is to make sure you know the KEY points to making your life meaningful today.

It is KEY to your health that you take responsibility for it and do not pawn your body off on your doctor. Research and educating yourself is the KEY to you being in charge of your treatment and treatment team. Get all of the information you can about your cancer, its stage and grade, and its many treatment options. Ask a thousand questions. Don’t let the medical professional make you feel you are asking too many. Here are a couple of my favorite questions: What is my prognosis or what are the statistics if I do what you are suggesting? And if I don’t, what are my odds? How quickly does this progress? If this was your mother, wife, husband, what would you suggest? Sometimes it is hard to ask tough questions but the KEY to unlock your choices is through information and information and education is power.

You have other choices that are KEYS to take note of. Eating healthy and reading labels is KEY to you being in charge of what goes in your mouth. Exercise is a KEY to feeling good about your body and keeping it in top shape.

Another KEY to a meaningful daily life is realizing that you are enough. Quit trying to make yourself fit into someone else’s mold, be exquisitely all of who you are. Stop hiding. Open the door of your heart and walk into life. You are the KEY ingredient. No one else can be you and the painful truth is no one else can live your life for you. You are the KEY to your happiness and no one else. Life is made up of KEY ingredients but you are the master KEY. You unlock all the doors and you choose how to deal with what comes at you.

Organized religion is not the KEY to your spirituality. But it can be a KEY ingredient to feeling connected to your God. I found that cancer brought up some interesting questions about God, faith, hope, and prayer. Spirituality is the KEY to understanding those questions and finding peace in journey without concrete answers.

The KEY is to stand up and be responsible for your life and your choices. The KEY to your health, finances, relationships, connections, and life’s direction is in your heart. Open it and live on.

Dr. Robin DilleyDr. 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.

5 Beautiful Garden Ideas For Breast Cancer Healing

Here are 5 Ways to Contemplate in a Breast Cancer Healing Garden
Just as there are many forms of contemplation, people have a variety of needs from a healing garden. Any space where people feel comfortable and safe will be a good place in your garden to pray, meditate, contemplate or simply de-stress. This is about creating a space within your garden to focus your thoughts, calm your mind, and revel in a little peaceful connecting.

Here are 5 Ideas for a Beautiful Healing Garden:

Garden Altars: You can easily create a very focused space outside to gain some peace. Gather items that you find inspiring or calming–a candle, some flowers in a vase, smooth river stones with meditative words etched onto them, a shallow bowl of water–and put them on a bench, a tree stump or a large boulder. Whatever it is that you find restful and meditative.Garden Alter For Breast Cancer Healing

Prayer Gardens: For those who prescribe to a more biblical perspective, try incorporating plants from the Bible into your garden spot. Lilies, cypress, hyssop, mint, roses (Rose of Sharon, actually, but feel free to take some liberties), olive trees–complete lists can be found easily online to create a more encompassing garden theme. The theme may not be immediately recognizable to visitors, but this spot is for you.Prayer Garden For Breast Cancer HealingYoga Deck: Yoga is a great exercise for flexibility and stretching, but it’s also very calming and meditative. With emphasis on movement and breathing, you can easily get into a contemplative mood. Tai Chi works much the same way. If you love these forms of exercise and contemplation, why not create a space in your garden so you can do these things outside? Construct a yoga deck low to the ground, add a possible side wall for more challenging poses and have a small water feature nearby.Yoga Deck For Breast Cancer Healing garden

Labyrinths: Labyrinths can be created in your yard on a large or smaller scale, and for a lot of money or for just a bit of cash, depending upon the materials you choose. Pave, plant or place rocks in between the pathways, and walk your worries away til you reach the center. Stay for a bit at that point, then turn around walk the same path out. The bilateral movement is known to promote a sense of peace, calmness and tranquility. Backyard Garden Labyrinth For Breast Cancer Healing

Meditation Garden: Meditation gardens have calming background sounds such as the breeze-driven rustling of ornamental grass, the delicate clatter of bamboo, and water gurgling from a fountain. Muted foliage works along with the scent of blooms or herbs. Backyard Breast Cancer Meditation Garden

Just as there are many forms of contemplation, people have a variety of needs from a healing garden. Any space where people feel comfortable and safe will be a good place in your garden to pray, meditate, contemplate or simply de-stress.

Photo Source: Garden Alter –, Prayer Garden,  Yoga Deck –, Labyrinth –, Meditation Garden –,featured photo –,  Article Source:

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.

HOPE: How to Make Decisions From a Position of HOPE

How To Build Build Hope From The Inside OutCertainly at this time of your life HOPE is an important word. Traditional Christian and Jewish stories speak of HOPE ranging from the miraculous conception of the Christ child to the Jewish Hanukkah story of the one day supply of holy oil miraculously turning into the necessary eight day supply needed. Some schools of Buddhism caution about too much HOPE, believing that HOPE sets up expectations. That seems to be the case when people use HOPE in a passive way. One cannot just HOPE that things change. HOPE requires you align yourself with positive action. Be the captain of your ship and do not sit by idly, HOPING things will change. HOPE is needed especially when the chips are down, and it feels like every resource has been explored.

Hope and How to Make DecisionsDeath is not the enemy. We all will die. HOPE can assist us to execute what choices we have about dying. One gift in breast cancer is that you do not die suddenly. You get a chance to say good-bye and let people know how meaningful they have been in your life. It is a fine line walking the balance of HOPE and despair. Despair is never helpful or useful and HOPE helps you stay away from the brink of despair when life is looking fairly bleak. Taking positive action one step at a time helps build HOPE from the inside out. HOPE activates action and action activates HOPE. You have nothing to lose by investing in HOPE. Even if things don’t work out the way you want them to, HOPE helps your mood and keeps despair at bay. HOPE can be practiced and increased when you build positive resources around you.

HOPE is part of feeling empowered. Acting on that empowerment allows you to execute the choices that you have. It is very important you recognize that you do have choices in your treatment options and when you cultivate HOPE in your daily life, then you make decisions from a position of HOPE rather than despair. In the despairing moments it is important to use HOPE to just pass through the despair and move into gratitude and action about the options that you do have.

Reading other people’s stories that are going through what you are going through can fertilize HOPE. Watching biographical movies that tell stories of struggle and success can increase your HOPE thermometer. Going for a walk in nature can uplift your mood and help return HOPE.
HOPE is a tool of positive self-care and I wish you well on your journey with HOPE by your side.

Dr. Robin DilleyDr. 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.

Spiritual Fighters: Faith And Hope

A positive attitude towards an illness helps your body fight it faster.A positive attitude towards an illness helps your body fight it faster.

According to the WHO statistics cancers is listed among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide with approximately 14 million new cases and around 8.2 million deaths related to cancer following the year 2012. However, the numbers are improving each year and the survival rates of cancer patients are higher each year.

Still, these alarming statistics are behind hopelessness and fear in people diagnosed with cancer. But it is believed by most of the physicians that in reality, cancer fighters get best results from their treatments if they are determined and hopeful. Hopefulness provides a cancer patient with a framework for bringing to light the perspective and understanding via greater source than oneself. It builds a sense of emotional self-control and helplessness.

Researchers’ point of view:

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan Medical Center, more than 90% cancer patients mentioned that it was their faith that had increased their ability to stay hopeful.

  • It enables them to cope actively with all the hurdles and difficult life situations.
  • It builds a high quality of life.
  • Patients adjust themselves in a better way in receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • It provides them the stamina and tenacity to face the anxiety of their illness and the treatment

Another group of studies published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2004 reports that religious morals, activities, and beliefs are associated with:

  • A good immune function
  • Lower mortality (death) rates due to cancer
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Better cardiac outcomes
  • Improved health behavior i.e. (more exercise, good sleep, less cigarette smoking).

All this increases the lifespan of an individual fighting cancer.

Role Of Spiritual Mentors/Instructors:

The majority of cancer patients get anxious, stressed out, depressed and angry, thinking that “Why God is angry with me? Why am I the victim of this dreaded disease?” For such questions, spiritual counselors relax them with answers like: “It is not a punishment from God for you. It is your test of patience, and He knows you will be strong and fight this until you get better. He will help you through this. You need to have faith in Him and yourself.” It comes as a welcome relief to cancer patients and puts them in peace and serenity that is necessary for the healing process.

Spiritual mentors might not be able to change their thoughts, but they provide them that energy that assists them to fight cancer. It leads them to a state of tranquility by letting them share their feelings. They show them a bigger picture where faith, hope and medicine work together.

Role Of Family And Friends In Building Faith:

A cancer patient’s company has a high role in building confidence and faith to fight cancer with energy. A survey conducted by the researchers at John Hopkins University reported that successful coping with stress at the end stage of cancer was associated with two variables:

  • Caregivers or social contacts of cancer patients
  • Support that cancer patient receives from spiritual/religious faith

Religious teachings help the cancer patient to become a responsible and careful person. It is an important source providing long-term care. It helps to maintain a good quality of life.


Although cancer challenges a cancer patient’s faith, still many people fundamentally seek their belief to be strengthened due to this experience. Learning new aspects of life restores faith in a better living and humanity. Faith and hope are equally significant in the healing process as other treatments for cancer.


  1. Cancer and faith
  2. Coping with cancer (faith and cancer)
  3. Religion, Spirituality, and Medicine: Research Findings and Implications for Clinical Practice
  4. Supportive care:Rehabilitation

Dr. Adem Gunes

Dr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.

BALANCE: A Gift of Mindfulness

Mindfulness, Balance & Waterfalls For Breast Cancer HealingMindfulness, Balance and Waterfalls

Come along with me as we visit the waterfalls of my memory. I have many memories of waterfalls and imagine you do as well. When I think about waterfalls, I think about the big falls like the wondrous Niagara to tiny falls in the middle of gardens, like the one at my favorite coffee shop or even the electric trickle of the one in my office. Each waterfall brings to me a sense of contentment and a peculiar sensation of being whole. When I stood and watched the falls of Niagara for the first time I experienced it radiating throughout my chest… calling forth the vibration of life within me. Just last month, in the illusion of a hot desert, Phoenix experienced the freezing of waterfalls in the front yards of many homes. For me, that was a magical experience, as magical as Christmas lights during the Holiday Season. I can never get enough of them.

A certain trip to a waterfall taught me about inner balance. Balance, personal core balance, has been an issue for me probably all of my life, even though I don’t remember being a klutzy kid, I am a klutzy adult. I walk into things that I did not notice or look one way and miss a step the other way. What does all of this nonsensical chatter have to do with the waterfall that is begging for a space within my mindfulness on waterfalls?

It was in March of 2001. My partner Pam and I took a trip to the tropics of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is a small island in the Eastern Caribbean, where the people are lovely, friendly, and have welcoming smiles. We mostly hung out at our all-inclusive but wanted to do some “adventure sightseeing”. After careful research, we took an all day jeep tour. The day included a banana plantation, sugar cane mill, an unpaved road where we bought some local coconut, and wrapped up the day with a trip to one of their many waterfalls. We arrived around three in the afternoon and the coolness of the tropical trees, emerald green vegetation, and beautiful flora accompanied us to a narrow path that led down to the rocky beach below. To our right, a magnificent waterfall bellowed out of the mountain above us. The path down to the beach below the waterfall was not treacherous, if I fell; I was not going to tumble down the side of a mountain and into the river. However, I did notice I was tense negotiating the wet rock along the way. At the bottom, our island guide told us the best view of the waterfall was across the shallow river. I was not particularly in the mood to get wet and assessed that the rock was slick, being that it was covered in green and brown moss. I began a very tentative plod across the water. I was carefully placing my feet, watchfully examining each step. I watched our guide. He was barefoot. He was perfectly balanced in his brown molten skin, shiny now with spray from the falls. He never looked down at his feet. He walked with a balance so perfect, as if he was walking on a grassy lawn in a beautiful park. Soon, he noticed my tentativeness. He watched me for a moment and I of course became even more tentative. He came back beside me. He gently took my hand and said, “Look ahead. You are going over there. Let your focus be on where you are going and let your body relax on to the rocks. Your feet, even in your tevas, will find their way on the rocks. Let them do what feet do, while you drive the bus to the other side. Your feet are your wheels. They will adjust to the rocks as you focus to that opening over there.” We started together, he let go, and coached me to keep focusing and allow my feet to work for me. I began to feel as if I was weightless. My body became upright. My posture perfect as I allowed my body to relax into my feet. I have practiced that exercise so many times since then. It is as if I gathered poise and strength from the sound of the waterfall that quieted my fears and heightened the compassion of a young island man that was one with the earth.

Finding our way in the treacherous path of cancer treatments and recovery means allowing ourselves to focus on the looking ahead and taking one meaningful step at a time.

Photo Source:

Dr. Robin DilleyDr. 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.

Growing Sage Indoors To Nurture Breast Cancer Well-Being

Sage For Breast Cancer Gardening TherapyBy: Breast Cancer Yoga Staff.

Growing the medicinal herb sage indoors can be fun and emotionally therapeutic. Learn how to grow, harvest and dry sage as a breast cancer gardening therapy. Another therapeutic benefit of sage is smudging. Sage smudging is a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition in which herbs are burned for emotional, psychic and spiritual purification.

Growing Sage Indoors
To raise the medicinal herb sage indoors, just plant several seeds in a five to six-inch pot. It is suggested to:

  1. Use plastic containers, as they tend to hold moisture longer than clay pots.
  2. Once the sage has sprouted, thin It back to one or two seedlings in each container.
  3. Fairly rich soil is necessary to produce healthy herbs.
  4. Plants should be placed on a sunny windowsill.
  5. When sage shoots are four inches high, enrich with water and a good liquid plant fertilizer.

How To Dry Sage
After the plants have reached maturity, they may be harvested as often as three or four times a year. To do this:

  • Cut the longer leaf stems back to about six inches and leave the little central shoots intact.
  • The Sage plant may look a trifle sad for a short time.
  • With small shears snip the gathered leaves from the severed branches, discard the stems.
  • Spread the greenery thinly on cloth or paper in a subdued light.
  • When the leaves are crispy dry, store them (whole or crushed) In a container that will keep out both light and air.

Spiritual House Cleansing With Sage Smudging
Spiritual cleansing is done to remove the negative energies or unwelcome spirits from your home using purifying herbs. It is good to cleanse your home once in a while to adjust the emotional environment of your home and maintain peace. Sage smudging is a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition in which herbs are burned for emotional, psychic and spiritual purification.

Sage Smudging For Breast CanverHow To Perform Sage Cleansing:

  1. The first step involves de-cluttering the space and turning off all electronics.
  2. Take several deep breaths and bring your mind in a relaxed and positive state.
  3. Once you have reached a positive frame of mind, prepare the sage for burning.
  4. The white sage for smudging is available in the form of wrapped long bundle.
  5. If you have loose sticks of white sage, place a handful of sage in the earthen bowl. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and light the end of the sage stick.
  6. Hold it in upward position and say your prayers, chants or requests for positive energy to cast out of any negativity.
  7. Visualize a bright light within yourself that will provide you shield against dark forces and negative energy.
  8. Offer the smoke of the sage smudge in all the directions of the house.
  9. Slowly, carry the smudge in the entire room to make sure smoke reaches every corner.
  10. Use a large feather to fan the smoke in distant areas of your house.
  11. During cleansing focus on positive thoughts, recite prayers, chants. or soothing music in the background.
  12. Once you have completed the spiritual cleansing process of the entire home, extinguish the remaining sage bundle and you can save it for future use.

Suggested Sage For Smudging
A good general purpose smudge is sage (Salvis Apaina), because it is a healing plant. It is known to create an atmosphere of protection and security, immortality and longevity. Sage when burned has the effect of transforming the atomic structure of the air it affects, and the living creatures who are breathing that air.

Drinking sage tea and inhaling clary sage essential oil may affect estrogen-related cancer, such as breast cancer. During breast cancer it is suggested to avoid both sage tea and clary sage aromatherapy.

Suggested Links

How To Grow Sage Indoors
How To Make Your Own Smudge Stick
When And How To Smudge

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.


“Boy Do I “Get It.”

Spiritual Healing Process Boy Do I “Get It.” My Update
By: Diana Ross, Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

“Anyone who has witnessed the gradual lessening of someone’s spirit (or enthusiasm) for life, for relationship, or for his or her work knows what it is to see the physical part of that person’s life shrivel into dust. Without participation of the human spirit, nothing can remain in healthy physical form.

This is absolutely real in the world of healing. Those that heal have Spirit. Spirit is essential to the healing process, and when any individual is unable to engage the power of his of her own spirit on the healing journey, that person is preparing to die.”

Intuitive Diagnosis Caroline Myss, Ph.D

It has taken me this long to be able to share with everyone my current journey with lung cancer, my quality of life, and Spirit. I have been humbled by this disease. I have been blessed by this disease. I have been closer to God and felt forsaken by God but I get it that maintaining a healthy “Spirit” is the key; without it quality of life is over.

After having my breast cancer I thought cancer isn’t that hard so when I was diagnosed with lung cancer my attitude was the same. I thought I had the answers. Well I can officially say I don’t have the answers and am humbled by my gross misunderstandings. My heart goes out to everyone who has to walk this walk of cancer and especially to those that don’t have the support, love and hope.

Dawn and I started Breast Cancer Yoga to offer Hope; to Inspire our readers to continue seeing their healing journey. To read about miracles, to make better food choices, to try new healthy alternative sources but it all pales if your Spirit is beat up by the disease. I have been there. Crying in the shower because I had zero energy to wash my hair – so I cut it off and now take baths and ask for help. I cannot do this on my own. Nor can anyone else. Ask for help. Let your friends help. They want too. I never knew I was loved so much until now. Heck I fell in love with my husband all over again. He has been my hope. Maybe instead of the blog reading being INSPIRED it should read being INSPIRIT.

My comments I want to leave you with is forgive everyone, which includes forgiving yourself, release all resentments; they are useless for healing. Don’t regret what you have done just shine a light on it and send it too on its way. Love is the answer so don’t hesitate with the hugs and loving comments. Be sincere. God is watching. I want to live but I do realize that cleaning my spiritual house is important and impermanence is just that – The flow of life.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.

Depression is Deadlier than CANCER?: 7 Ways to Survive Treatment (Part 1)

Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos Interview

Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos – R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor

By Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos, Cancer Hotline Counselor and Author of SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing .

Today, a statement made by a woman I mentor shocked me into silence. It also made me realize how devastating and emotionally defeating depression is as a mental illness.  No wonder Robin Williams chose to take his life rather than continue in a state of illness he felt was incurable.  His lonely death left us with many unanswered questions.

However, according to The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, Robin Williams was not alone because mental illness is very common. One in five Americans aged 16-85 experience some form of mental illness in any year. According to WHO, lifetime prevalence rates for any kind of psychological disorder are higher than previously thought. This may be because people suffering from psychological disorders tend to keep them a secret either out of shame, fear, or their inability to communicate their symptoms to practitioners. These disorders are increasing in recent cohorts and affect nearly half the population.  Suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for all ages.

Every year, over 800.000 people die from suicide. This is an alarming statistic.  

One in two people or half the population in the world will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. One in three people will come down with some form of cancer in their lifetime. More people will have mental illness than cancer.

The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder could also develop depression, or a person with depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate.  A third combination would be incompatible pharmaceuticals that exacerbate  mental illness during treatment for a physical illness. This was brought to my attention by the following story.  As an R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor, I mentor woman newly diagnosed with cancer who seek help through the HOTLINE’s center by calling 1-800-433-0464. The conversation I had today saddened me beyond words.

A woman recently diagnosed with stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer, a formidable form of  cancer, shared her sad story:

 “I was just released from a week long stay in the hospital after trying to commit suicide. I could not help myself. I have been dealing with severe depression most of my adult life and the Adriamycin/Cytoxan chemotherapy I began taking two months ago made it worse. My husband found me unconscious in the morning after I had swallowed seventy-five pills during the night when I got up to use the bathroom. I don’t remember doing that. I always remembered trying to kill myself before. This time I had no memory of it. ”

This was chemo-brain in action. Chemo-brain is a result of the chemotherapy on brain synapses and memory. It is described in my book, Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing in chapter 31,Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll.

I asked her if she had attempted suicide because she felt she could not recover from the triple negative stage-four breast cancer.   “Oh, no. I know cancer is curable. Depression is not.  And I don’t want to live depressed anymore.”

That statement made me realize just how depressing depression truly is. When a patient facing advanced aggressive cancer is not afraid to die with cancer but afraid to live with depression, something needs to be done about how our society tackles BOTH illnesses because cancer treatment often triggers deep depression in patients who do not have a history of mental illness. Imagine what it does to those who are already battling it when the chemotherapy cocktail of pharmaceuticals mix with anti-depression medications. The result is an emotional roller-coaster-ride beyond comprehension.

This CancerLand ride is the focus of chapter 33 in my book.

If you are already prone to depression, or perhaps you are taking anti-depression medication or ever took medication for depression and are facing cancer treatment, here are 7 things you can do to survive depression while getting well.

1.Tell your oncologist about your previous experiences with depression, even if they are no longer an issue in your life.

2. Ask your oncology medical team for the name of a psychiatrist at your treatment center so that everyone can be informed about your emotional progress during treatment.

3. Journal your emotional journey during treatment to help you be aware of your progress during times of depression. This can be a light at the end of the tunnel.

4. Share your journal with your therapist or psychologist so they can monitor your emotions and watch for “red flags” or troubling behaviors before they become a dire situation. Creating an online journal will be easy to email to your therapist.

5. Most depression during treatment occurs five to seven days after chemotherapy. Do not be alone during those times. If you do not have someone to stay with, be sure to check in with your therapist often.

6. Have a family member or friend remove or hide all dangerous pharmaceuticals that you are not currently taking from your home during treatment.

7. Stay connected to your Higher-Power and belief system through dreams, prayers and meditation. This can be a guiding light in your hours of darkness.

Cancer AND depression are curable. Some medical practitioners prefer to say that cancer patients, after successfully completing treatment are in remission. They believe that with proper lifestyle adjustments that include a healthy diet and outlook on life, the cancer will remain in remission. Others prefer to say, “You’re cured!”  The same holds true for depression. The treatment regimen of finding medications that work at proper doses may not be easy, but the alternative is less so.  After surviving cancer three times, 15 and 10 years ago respectively I always say, “I’m cured.”  Join me and celebrate life.   In part 2 of this article titled Surviving Cancer & Depression: 4 Steps to Success we will discuss ways  to survive cancer and depression.

Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos Breast Cancer Authority ContributorBIO: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos believes dreams diagnose your life. Did you have a déjà-vu or did your dream come true? Kat survived three cancers diagnosed by her dreams. International bestselling author, inspirational speaker, radio-host, columnist, blogger, Cancer Hotline Counselor; she has been featured on radio and TV, in magazines and newspapers, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing is the first in her three book series on waking up to healing dreams. Kat taught Special Education and Psychology at (USF) University of South Florida.

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