Improving Mood Through Diet

Foods to help prevent depression & anxiety for breast cancerIn one of my videos last year, I reported on the finding that vegetarian men and women had significantly better scores on the Depression, Anxiety, Stress scale. Why were vegetarians significantly less depressed, anxious, and stressed than even healthy meateaters in this study?  “Negligable arachidonic acid intake may help explain the favorable mood profile observed with vegetarian diets. As I talked about last year, this arachidonic acid stuff in our diet produces inflammatory compounds which may inflame our brain.

The omnivores ate 9 times as much arachidonic acid than the vegetarians, which is not surprising, given that arachidonic acid is not found in plants. That’s why vegetarians and vegans, have significantly lower levels of arachidonic acid flowing though their bloodstream. In fact you can even measure it right out of saliva. They found significantly lower levels of arachidonic acid in vegetarian drool.

This was a landmark study, but it was also just a cross-sectional study, a snapshot in time. What you need to do to prove cause and effect is do an interventional study. So in a follow-up study presented at the annual American Public Health Association conference they took a bunch of meateaters and split them up into three groups. The control group maintained regular intake of flesh foods The second group ate fish, but no other meat, and the third was put on a vegetarian diet with no eggs. The whole study only lasted two weeks, but what do you think they found?

If it was primarily the saturated fat inflaming the omnivores’ brain, then the moods of both the veg and fish groups would presumably improve. If arachidonic acid was the culprit then presumably only the veg group would feel significantly better.

This is the amount of arachidonic acid in blue consumed per day by the end of the study. The fish eaters, though, were eating a lot more of those long chain omega 3’s, though, EPA and DHA, so maybe they were protected? Or, more like nothing would happen in such a short time frame—just two weeks.

In terms of psychological benefits, the egg-free vegetarian group significantly improved, meaning greater reductions in both the depression, anxiety, stress scale and the Profile of Mood States a measurement of mood disturbances. Though the no-poultry fish group did marginally better than the control group, the difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: “The complete restriction of flesh foods significantly reduced mood variability in omnivores…. Our results suggest that a vegetarian diet can reduce mood variability in omnivores. Perhaps eating less meat can help protect mood in omnivores, particularly important in those susceptible to mood disorders.

Doctor’s Note

Other, more recent videos on the health hazards of arachidonic acid include:
When Meat Can Be a Lifesaver
Titanium Dioxide & Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Fighting the Blues With Greens?

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. For information on the role that plant-based diets can play in improving mood, check out my other video Plant-Based Diet & Mood. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Harvard’s Meat and Mortality Studies, Inflammation, Diet, and “Vitamin S”, The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom, How To Boost Serotonin NaturallyTreating Crohn’s Disease With Diet, Top 10 Most Popular Videos of the Year, Saffron vs. Prozac for Depression, The Science of Acai BerriesRaspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions, and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

How To Write An Easter Love Letter To Yourself During Cancer Treatment & Recovery

Easter Love Letter For Cancer PatientsBY: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos is a published author, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing.

Easter can be difficult to celebrate when you are in or recovering from cancer treatment.It is hard to fake happy after the loss of a lifestyle, friend or family to this disease. But remember, if you are reading this, YOU are a WINNER. Let’s celebrate! Take the first tiny step with a Love Letter to YOU.

Writing can help you be in the moment of triumph by putting abstract emotions into concrete words. You will celebrate with your inner-selves; those incredible aspects of yourself that you may not be aware of, but are always there for you. As you write, your thoughts and memories can also bring to light your life-purpose and help you stay on the correct path to your Life Destiny.East

Here are 6 steps to write your Easter Love Letter to Yourself:

1.) Remember—You may be holding the pen, but Inner Wisdom is guiding the words. Let them flow.

  • Although a hand written letter may be more therapeutic, a typed one works well, too.  The importance is not in HOW you connect with yourself but THAT you connect with yourself.
  • An Easter Love Letter to You is a simple letter to all the inner aspects of yourself — Inner Wisdom, Inner Knowing, Spirit, God, or the Higher Power of your choice.  Your letter can be addressed to any name that resonates with you.

2.) Start with a phrase of gratitude, Mantra, or Blessing at the top of your letter.

  • Write a phrase or mantra that has power for you. This is your letter heading.
  • It can be acknowledgment of your Inner Winner. Acknowledging gratitude is one of your most powerful healing and connecting energies. Your mantra/phrase will reflect that principle. If you do not have a personal phrase of gratitude, borrow one that most resonates with you.

3.) Today’s Date.

  • Dating your letter helps ground you in the moment while you visit the past.
  • The past is a great place to visit.  But, don’t live there.

4.)  Salutation

  • Dear, your name, or Inner Winner, etc.
  • Address the letter to whomever feels right to you.
  • Imagine sending a  private message or group email to all your best friends.  This can be one, many, or all your Inner-people who are responsible for helping you succeed.

5.)  The Body of the Letter

  • Write whatever feels right to you. Let it all out, but try to start and end on a positive note.
  • You may want to start with: “Thank you for all you have done for me.”

6.)  Sign your name.

  • Feel free to use a name you can embrace as the new you rather than your given name.
  • The Love Letter is to you. You’ll get it.

If you need more guidance for your letter, use my example of what your Easter Love Letter might look like and fill in the blanks:

March 26, 2016

Dear Inner Winner,

Thank you for all you have done for me.

I remember when ____________________________________

Then you helped me _________________________________

We worked together by _______________________________

Now, these positive things have happened to manifest the promise of a wonderful future ______


(sign your name) Super Kat

What to do with your Love Letter.

  1. Save the letter and read it whenever you need to reconnect with your Inner-winner.
  2. If you  save it, put it in a place that is easily accessible, like your wallet. Take it out and read it when you need it.
  3. Send it to yourself in a personal email.
  4. Post it on a blog where your love and gratitude can be shared with many.
  5. Burning is a ritual act of sharing. It uses fire to cleanse away any residual negativity and allows smoke to carry the message of gratitude to your Higher Power.

So, take a minute out of this busy time before the Easter Holiday to reflect on what you have done to leave a positive foot-print on someone’s heart or in the sands-of-time. Find that hidden gift in the form of an egg-of-love in your mind.  Write it in a love letter to YOU because you deserve it.Then watch for answers and validation from your Inner-winner in your dreams.

Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos Breast Cancer Authority ContributorKathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos is a published author, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing (Cypress House, Jan 2014), survived three breast cancers diagnosed  by her dreams, Intuitive Dream Coach, & R.A. BLOCH Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor, Radio host, blogger and columnist for magazines. Kat presents at Expos, Radio Shows, Health Events, Magazines, & TV. She’s represented by Steve Allen Media. Learn more @

CONVERSATION: A Psychologist’s Guide To Meaningful Conversation During Cancer Treatments

Meaningful Conversation Bonderies During Cancer TreatmentsAs cancer survivors we all have something in common, but are we having meaningful conversations with each other, family, or friends about it? In my experience once treatment is finished the rest of the world declares us healed and cancer is no longer spoken about. It is also my experience that the thought of cancer is never far from my mind. I am inviting you to take a look inside and ask yourself, “What will it take to have a meaningful conversation about it, now?” (Regardless of whether you are 20 years out or two days into treatment)

Ah, but that brings up anxiety doesn’t it? What might I learn about you if we share in conversation? What is it that you don’t want me know your cancer and about you and you will go to any extreme not to share with me? What is it that you won’t ask me because you think I might be offended or have a less than positive reaction to? What would make our connection through the very limited English language be a meaningful conversation?

For me a meaningful conversation is about hearing and being heard. I want to tell you about my most difficult time this week and I want to hear about yours. I want to speak to you from my heart about my dreams and not be afraid that you will laugh at them. I want to share in your dreams and support you in them. Today, I want to know that you are safe enough to share with regardless of what I have to say. I want to be re-assured that even if you don’t agree that you will not go away. I want to know that there is room for us to disagree and stick together no matter what.

There are some things that are very important to me regardless of our differences.
For instance:

  • I cannot have a meaningful conversation with someone who does not respect me. I just don’t feel equal when I am disrespected. Thus, why would I bother to have a meaningful conversation? Respect creates respect. Disrespect creates disrespect.
  • I cannot have a meaningful conversation with someone who insists on being right. Conversations are an exchange of communication thus being right or wrong is not an exchange, someone wins or someone loses. If I want to win or lose I will go play a sport or to the casino. Otherwise there is no room for winning or losing.
  • I cannot have a meaningful conversation with someone who has an agenda. If you are invested in the outcome on how you want me to be at the end of the conversation, I have no interest in being controlled by your agenda. If you want to share your point of view then I am very open to hearing it and engaging in it.

What are your boundaries about a meaningful conversation? You might have more meaningful conversations if you become aware of your boundaries and stick to them. This can be scary so I invite you to start with a meaningful conversation in your journal and then find a safe person to read your journal entry to. It is one step at a time that we build a meaningful conversation. Start today and take one step at a time. First, choose the safest person to have a conversation.

One last thought; who would be the scariest person to have a conversation with? Maybe this is an excellent time to have a conversation with him or her in your journal that is just your private space to say whatever it is you need to say.

There are many ways to have meaningful conversations, but each one requires a certain level of risk. You get to decide how much risk you are willing to take.


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.

Healing Information in Your Nightmares

Healing Information in Your Nightmares

Psalms 91:5 – Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; [nor] for the arrow [that] flieth by day;
“Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” ~John Lennon
Affirmation~ When I embrace my dreams I hug myself.
CLICK THE LINK: 30 sec award winning video

Do you know that your nightmares may be gift in disguise? What better way for your spirit guides to get your attention than with a frightening dream? If you have ever had a nightmare that was so horrific you were afraid to go back to sleep, good for you!

Nightmares do not terrorize us just for the fun of it. They have a number of positive purposes.
The emotion they elicit is meant to help you remember and do something as important as saving your life or the life of a loved one. The emotion you awaken with is a snippet of something bigger; an important part of your future.

In my 30 second award winning video I will show you:

  1. the importance of nightmares
  2. what some Spirit-guides can look like
  3. how to communicate with your Spirit Guides

It is easy to dismiss a nice calming Epic Dream, and that is okay. Its purpose is to let us relax so we can drift into a deeper sleep level, forget reality, and have a good rest. Nightmares, on the other hand, tell us to do something to change our course in life. It could be as simple as remembering not to forget the signs and symbols from an important event that happened in our childhood. We don’t want make the same painful mistake again on a larger scale as an adult. All the challenges in our life, no matter how painful, were a learning experience. Nightmares can help us remember those lessons without actually experiencing the physical trauma, especially if there is potential for them to happen again.

Forewarned is armed.
We have Epic dreams as we first fall asleep. When we wake up we often think we are still having the same dream because we are still in it, but that is not the case. We shift in and out of our Epic Dream Door about four times during the night. One purpose of our Epic Dream is to get us into a deeper dream state. Between the beginning and end of our Epic Dream we can have an important nightmare while in the deep sleep level of REM; Rapid Eye Movement.

During REM your Spirit Guides often enter dreams with important information.
Your Spirit Guides are an important part of your life. You were born with them, you are their job, and they take that job very seriously.

But what about those unforgettable nightmare that are so disturbing and frightening they wake us up in the middle of the night. What is their purpose?

Nightmares have three important purposes.

  1. Get your attention. Fear works!
  2. Keep your attention by making the experience so frightening you cannot forget it. The third purpose is to give you important information to
  3. Guide you on your life-path so you remain aligned with your life-purpose. This guidance can come as a call-to-action with specific verbal directions like, “Return to your doctors without an appointment and demand a different test for breast cancer.”

If the information is life-saving and is ignored or not understood you may not be able to fulfill your life-destiny. You may have to come back and try it again in your next life. Wouldn’t it be easier to embrace your nightmare as a gift in disguise, decipher its meaning and message, follow he call to action and thank your Spirit Guides for the opportunity to get back on the right path and fulfill your destiny now?

Nightmares are personal gifts from your Higher Power and brought into your dreams by your Spirit-guides. They are important pearls of wisdom and beautiful golden threads of life. String your pearls on those threads and wear them with pride. Nightmares are an important part of your waking life.

Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos Breast Cancer Authority ContributorKathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is a TV Producer/Host of Wicked Housewives ON Cape Cod and Author/Lecturer of the International bestselling book, Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing which promotes patient advocacy and connecting with inner guidance for success in health, wealth, and relationships. Learn more about her radio TV Show on the Facebook page Wicked Housewives On Cape Cod and about Kat @ and Dreams @


Music as Medicine

Music As Medicine For Breast Cancr RecoveryBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

We’ve been playing music since back during the Paleolithic times, 40,000 years ago, with music as therapy documented at least since biblical times. The first such experiment was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1914. Phonograph in Operating Room “as a means of calming and distracting patients from the horror of the situation” as they lie awake during surgery.

Now that we have anesthesia, music is used to calm nerves before surgery. Normally we use valium-type drugs like midazolam, sold as Versed, but it can have a variety of side effects including sometimes making people even more agitated, so this study was performed to see if relaxing music has a greater anxiety reducing effect than a standard dose of the drug.  So, they whipped out some Kenny G. and the music worked significantly better than the drug:  lower anxiety scores, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure. Perhaps the first report of any anti-anxiety therapy working not just as good as, but better then benzodiazepine drugs. And the difference in the side effects of relaxing music compared to the drug is obvious. There were none. Soft jazz causes no post-operative hangover, so the researchers suggest we should start using music instead of midazolam.

Music may be effective in reducing anxiety and pain in children undergoing minor medical and dental procedures, helping with blood draws, getting their shots — even reducing the pain of spinal taps, though evidently Mozart is powerless against the pain of circumcision.

But it doesn’t take a randomized controlled trial to demonstrate that listening to music can be relaxing. Tell me something I don’t know. Ok, this I did not know. If you take someone with a latex allergy and inject their skin with latex, they get a big, red, angry bump. But, if you repeat the test after they’ve been listening to Mozart for 30 minutes, they develop a much smaller bump. They had less of an allergic reaction. And if you think that’s wild, Beethoven didn’t work; same reaction before and after. Schubert, didn’t work either, nor did Haydn, or Brahms, both failed to reduce the allergic skin response. Thus, the reducing effect on the allergic responses may be specific to Mozart. So, Mozart’s looking pretty good—but wait a second, maybe Mozart suppresses the immune system in general?  That wouldn’t be good, so they also injected a chemical that causes reactions in everyone, not just allergic people, and Mozart had no effect.  So it seems to just suppress the pathological allergic reaction, and if that isn’t crazy enough for you, they drew people’s blood after the music and stuck their white blood cells in a petri dish with a little latex and measured the allergic antibody response. The white blood cells from the person exposed to Mozart had less of an allergic response, even outside the body, compared to cells taken from Beethoven blood. That is cool.

Music may even impact our metabolism. It all started with this study that found the resting energy expenditure, the resting metabolic rate, the amount of calories burned just lying around was lower in preemies when they piped in Mozart; which may explain why infants exposed to music put on weight faster, so much so they were able to go home earlier. Gaining weight faster is great for premature babies, but not necessarily for adults. Could listening to music slow our metabolism and contribute to weight gain? No, this study found no effect on adults. But, they used Bach, not Mozart, and Bach doesn’t work for babies either. A drop in energy expenditure on Mozart, but not on Bach. This would suggest that it may be more of a ‘Mozart specific effect’ than a universal ‘music effect’. What if you just listen to music of your choice—does it affect our metabolism or not? We didn’t know until now. And it turns out that listening to music appears to actually increase our metabolic rate, such that we burn an average of 27.6 more calories a day even just lying in bed, though that’s only about six M&M’s worth. Better to use music to get up and start dancing or exercising. Music can not only improve exercise enjoyment but performance as well – a way to improve athletic performance, that’s legal.

Male body builders may be less enthused by this effect, though. After listening to music for just 30 minutes, testosterone levels drop 14% in young men and go up 21% in young women. All kinds of music or just some types of music? 30 minutes of silence had no effect, same testosterone levels before and after. But a half hour of Mozart suppressed testosterone, as did jazz, as did pop music, as did Gregorian chants (no relation). What about a half hour of people’s personal favorites? Testosterone levels cut in half. Testosterone decreased in males under all music conditions, whereas testosterone increased in the females. What is going on? Well, in men, testosterone is related to libido, dominance, aggressiveness, whereas women get a bigger boost in testosterone from cuddling than from sex and so, maybe we evolved using music as a way to ensure we all got along.  Like a melodious cold shower to keep everyone chill.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Photo Source: Finding Your Place

Journaling as Story Telling

Journeling As Story TellingBy: Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer and a licensed psychologist,

Story Telling is something that most of us enjoy. There is nothing more mesmerizing than getting lost in a well-told story that takes you from your life and into the life of another. Story Telling is seductive, alluring, and hypnotizing. Journaling is one way of telling a story, especially your story. Ah, I hear your insecurities now. “I don’t have a story to tell. My story would be boring. I don’t know how to write. Blank paper scares me.” Yes, all of that is true. So was learning to walk scary when you were a baby but look at you now. Amazing what can happen when we try something that makes us a bit pensive.

It is my belief that each of us has a story to tell, actually many stories to tell. Many women and some men have experienced Breast Cancer and other types of cancer, but none of them have experienced it just the way you experience it. . Breast Cancer created new stories and experiences in your life that you had never encountered. It created many first time events. The psychological research on journaling feelings, experiences, thoughts, fears and hope has been positively documented over decades. It is an easy tool for each of us to use. New research just recently showed some interesting data.

A study by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer published in the Psychological Science Journal asked 50 students to attend a lecture. Half were to take notes on lap-tops and the other half were to take notes the old fashion way, on paper. Afterwards they were given a comprehension test. The results were not even close. The students who took paper notes scored significantly higher. This process is called analog note taking. The question became, “What causes this level of success in analog note taking?” Mueller believes it is due to a phenomenon called “desirable difficulty” which is a small roadblock that is in your path that actually improves your understanding of a topic. The actual process of writing with pen and paper forces synthesis in the brain of the material being written. Thus, if you are taking notes and writing down your cancer journey you are in fact synthesizing it and integrating the emotional piece of this journey with the physical healing. Even if you never re-read a word that you write it is helping you integrate your story into the tapestry of your life.

Cohn, Mehl, and Pennenbaker wrote in their article on Linguistic Markers of Psychological Change in Events Surrounding September 11 also published in the Psychological Science Journal reported that a study of 1,084 regular journal writers in found that significant processing of language changed positively over a period of two months as the participants processed the events of 911. This study was over a period of four months. Two months prior to 911 to allow researchers to understand the depth and style of the person journaling. Then the event of 911 and two months after in order that the researcher could note any difference in language, style, and depth. The days of 911 and the few weeks following researchers could see an emotional distance in the writer. In the beginning language was difficult, simple and distant as if the writer was just reporting what he/she was hearing. But as the writer continued to process this event language became closer to his/her original style and emotional trauma became more personalized and began to trauma showed a decrease linguistically in the six weeks post 911. Again we see positive evidence supporting the fact that keeping record of your feelings, experience, thoughts, and dreams is a very important tool to self care and psychological healing. Even though this data may not seem particularly exciting to you, I invite you to begin a new chapter in your self-care process during this cancer journey of yours and begin to record on the outside with pen and paper or even on your computer what is happening on the inside. Think about the events of your day, your treatment, your feelings, your thoughts as chapters in your book. Expand a sentence, a feeling or and event into a page.

For instance, what was it like for you when you heard those words dangle like sharp pieces of heavy metal from our doctor’s mouth, “I am sorry, you have cancer?”

How loud was the earthquake in your soul when those words began to fall into your conscience, knocking over every single inch of personal safety?

Who did you tell first? Who did you tell last? Who did you not tell? Why? Were you protecting yourself or the listener of your story?

What did you fear most? How did you avoid your story? Did you put your head in the sand? Did you face it head on? Did you play psychological dodge ball with the thoughts in your head?

Begin on the blank page to tell your story. Your whole story including your secrets, your fantasies, and all of the mumbo-jumbo of thoughts and emotions. After writing at least a full page or twenty minutes worth you can put it away and distract yourself with the routine of the day. Tomorrow write again. One event and memory will lead to the next. Choose a time of day that is best for you to write. Use colorful and easy to write pens. Find a journal or a composition book that fits comfortable in your lap or on your desk
Begin to look forward to your safe place to tell your story. The pages are mum and will keep your secrets. The pages wait eagerly for you to touch them tenderly or even angrily with your pen. Trees gave up their life so that you can heal. Be grateful of the opportunity to share with the pages what it is like to be you and what is like for you to be going through this part of your journey.

If the blank page is too startling for you, maybe you could start with letter writing? Letter writing is a safe way to get your creative juices flowing. Choose someone to write to such as yourself, your God, a super-hero or even an ancestor that has already transitioned to the next chapter of his or her story. If you had a great relationship with a grand-parent, an aunt or uncle or even a teacher along you path, then pick up your pen and tell them your story. Allow yourself to become comfortable with uncomfortable words such as terminal, treatment, surgery and pain. Allow yourself to relish in stories of connection. Who did you meet along the way that made your journey a bit softer, easier, and hopeful. There are so many stories you have to share, stop reading this and get to writing.

Enjoy the moment. Dr. Dilley

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.

Healing Mudras For Cancer Survivors

Healing Mudras For CancerBy: Jean Di Carlo Wagner: Owner of

In yoga, there are many ways to connect to the Universal oneness. In postures, we call it asana practice. Through breathing, it is called pranayama. With our voices, it is called mantra. And through use of hand gestures, it is called mudra.

Each connection is from earth, through our bodies and to the energies of our spirits. Each form of yoga activates nerves, glands, mind, body and spirit. Yoga itself is a moving meditation. We open our channels of self healing.

Mudras are beautiful and powerful expressions of intention to draw on internal and external energy of our healing potential. As a cancer survivor and yoga teacher, I share mudras with my students. Mudra’s hand positions often have mantras and pranayama features. A common mudra is putting the thumb and forefinger together while mediating.

I encourage my students to make their own personal gestures to express their emotions. For example, there is a mudra for healing grief. But we each experience grief differently. When we turn into our bodies, we might feel grief in our heart chakra or in our naval center. We can use our own hand gesture to explore grief for ourselves. Yoga continues to grow and change with each practitioner. So why not learn from our inner guidance?

Jean Di Carlo WagnerAbout Jean Di Carlo Wagner: Owner of
E-RYT200, E-RYT500 certified with Yoga Alliance
Yoga Therapist with International Alliance of Yoga Therapists
Atma Yoga Teacher Training, certified 500 hours Los Angeles
A Gentle Way Yoga, certified 200 hours
Silver Age Yoga, certified 200 hours

Cancer Compassion: 6 Questions to Answer If You Want To Be Helpful To Family and Friends

Cancer Compassion - If You Want To Be Helpful To Family and FriendsBy: Stan Goldberg, Ph.D, Author of Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life.

Supporting cancer victims affects us all. At least once in your life someone will say to you, I have cancer, and when those three words are spoken, you may struggle to respond in a compassionate and helpful way. The compassion part may be easy in supporting cancer victims. In the misery of another, we see ourselves; if not in the present, than in our past or future. But does having compassion automatically result in  skillful behaviors when supporting cancer victims? I’ve wrestled with this question as someone living with cancer survivor for twelve years and for twenty-five years as a counselor of people coping with chronic illnesses. My conclusion is compassion isn’t enough.

The What and How of Compassion

His Holiness, The Dali Lama, wrote “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Thich Nhat Hanh, said, “Compassion means, literally, ‘to suffer with.’” For me, compassion is a what of Buddhist tradition. It says this is what we should be doing in supporting cancer victims, but not necessarily how to do it other than in general terms (e.g., acceptance, nonjudgmental, etc.).

supporting cancer victims The problem for many—including myself—is how to practice compassion in a way that is helpful to others. For example, is it compassionate to give a strung-out street person money knowing he will use it to buy drugs? Is it compassionate to tell your frightened mother who has terminal cancer she will survive? Some authors maintain answers to questions such as these come through meditation when we put ourselves in the place of others who are in great torment.

For me, meditation provides more whats than hows about supporting cancer victims, but rarely do hypotheticals translate into accurate understanding.

When Compassion Requires Facts: Supporting Cancer Victims

Driving from New York City to San Francisco is analogous to wanting to be compassionate in supporting cancer victims. The intents are clear; to arrive in San Francisco and to help a friend cope. You may be uncertain of the routes to take for the drive, so you go to a local travel office and ask, “How to I get to San Francisco?” A clerk points west and says “That way.” The directions are correct, but not specific enough to be helpful. I believe a similar problem exists in wanting supporting cancer victims and knowing how to implement it.

Supporting cancer victimsThe difference between intent and practice was made clear to me by a hospice patient who described the difficulty her brother had when she informed him of her cervical cancer prognosis.They were close throughout their lives, and she regarded him as compassionate. He stumbled when faced with transforming compassion into practical behaviors. He understood his sister’s condition would deteriorate. She would soon need help in daily activities, such as food preparation and personal hygiene. His dilemma was in not knowing how to approach these issues with her. Should he assume she needed help, or should he wait until asked?

The gap between compassionate intent and support was not limited to her physical needs. He struggled with knowing when the time was right to discuss how he felt about her. What should he say that would ease her journey? Should he raise the possibility she might not survive or pretend everything would be fine? He assumed compassion would be easy to actualize. But it wasn’t. It involved a series of choices about how to be compassionate.

You may believe supporting cancer victims only requires responses based on concepts such as “active listening,” “acceptance,” “openness,” “honesty,” and “being present.” According to people living with and dying from cancer, what they crave is specificity, not just generalities. There is immense gratitude for the compassion shown to us, but we need more.

Our Invitation and Your Responsibility

Think of “compassion” as what separates you from other people we encounter. You’re the type of person we want in our lives—and for some, our deaths. We are inviting you into a world that’s constantly changing, chaotic, and quite often frightening. We’ll ask you to transform intentions into actions if you accept our invitation. Below are six of the many areas in which your loved one or friend may ask for help. How would you respond without referring to the above general concepts? In other words, what would you do?

1) What will you do when I share my diagnosis with you?

2) How will you react to my fluctuating emotions?

3) What can you do to compensate for my accumulated losses?

4) What will you communicate to me and how will you do it?

5) When I experience emotional or physical pain, how will you help me?

6) What will you do if my prognosis is terminal?

Coping with cancer is a complex and messy journey for those of us experiencing it and friends and loved ones accompanying us. Supporting cancer victims requires both compassionate intent and practical knowledge merged as skillful, useful actions. Real compassion requires doing, not just feeling. If you couldn’t answer just one of the six questions, you might be interested in “I Have Cancer” 48 Things To Do When You Hear Those Words, available now on Amazon as a $3.49 ebook.

Stan Goldberg, Ph.DAbout Stan Goldberg, Ph.D: Stan is a cancer survivor,  husband, father, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University, and devotee of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and Native American Flute. For eight years Stan was a bedside hospice volunteer at Pathways, Hospice By The Bay, George Mark Children’s Hospice, and Zen Hospice Project.   In 2009 Stan was named by the Hospice Volunteer Association “Volunteer of the Year.”

For more than 25 years  Stan Goldberg has taught, provided therapy, researched, and published in the areas of learning, change, loss, and end of life issues.

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Labyrinth’s for Physical and Emotional Healing

Labyrinth’s for Physical and Emotional Breast Cancer HealingBy: Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer and a licensed psychologist,

During my journey with breast cancer treatment I found a very powerful symbol of healing in the Labyrinth. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that has managed to stay present into the 21st Century. If we can tap into the labyrinth’s significance we can use it on a regular basis as part of our healing. This blog is about finding solace as well as empowerment by taking a walk, a walk to the center and back.

Breast cancer is a journey. It is not a journey that we have chosen, but a journey that is here and it is important to find ways to cope with it, manage it, and come out the other side of it thriving as humans.

As Dr. Lauren Artress says in her book, WALKING A SACRED PATH , “Walking the Labyrinth has re-­‐emerged today as a metaphor for the spiritual journey and a powerful tool for transformation. This walking meditation is an archetype, a mystical ritual found in all religious traditions. It quiets the mind and opens the soul, evoking a feeling of wholeness.”

Transformation is the process of evolving from what is to something different. It often appears to happen all of a sudden, but in reality transformation is an extended process over time. Words that come to mind when I think of transformation are words like evolution and metamorphous.

Psychotherapy is a conduit for change. Spirituality is a path of change. They both have elements of relationship and together they are a lifestyle of daily transformation for self and for other.

As a person who has experienced breast cancer our life lessons parallel that of a Hero/Heroine’s journey. The Hero’s journey is that which requires that we master the unknown, overcome dangers, and defeat obstacles as we move toward the healing challis, the prized object of our journey. A Labyrinth walk mimics that of the Hero’s journey. The Hero or Heroine enters the journey to find the precious “challis.” Once the precious challis is obtained the question becomes “Now what?” The hero or heroine must make it back out to the world with the challis to bring the power of healing to others.

Take this virtual labyrinth walk

Click on labyrinth to take a virtual labyrinth walk

As people coping with breast cancer in all of its many phases of pre and post treatment, where mortality has broken the illusion of immortality the simple but influential process of putting one foot in front of the other is an amazing feat. As a people who have experienced breast cancer, life as we know it has come to an end and now the process or recreating a new one is an ongoing journey. Walk in for your inner world of peace walk out for peace for every person experiencing a potentially terminal illness, and especially kindred spirits with breast cancer. If you cannot find a labyrinth near you to walk, take this virtual walk at The Labyrinth Society.

I hope you have found this an interesting start to your emotional and spiritual health as a hero/heroine on your journey.

You can follow me at Or visit me on my web-­‐page

Enjoy the moment. Dr. Dilley

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.

Breast Cancer: Power And Personal Responsibility

Breast Cancer Power & Personal ResponsibilityDr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer and licensed psychologist.

As a breast cancer survivor, I know there is no more powerful word that brings us to the ground than that five letter word “cancer”. So, the playing field is leveled and each of us start from the same ground-zero.

It is important at ground-zero to spend the first few days in shock because you are in shock. In shock one generally numbs out, walks around in a daze, makes no conversational sense, and continues to repeat over and over the words, “I can’t believe I have cancer.” However, non of us can stay in that spot for more than a few days.

  • It is important to mobilize personal and professional resources.
  • Every doctor you see will have an opinion and confusingly a different opinion. Therefore, it is important to collect a few professional opinions about what you need to do.
  • Even though it is confusing to hear so many opinions and so much data, you have a right and a responsibility to collect as much data as possible.

In therapy I often tell my new parents to collect data about their new baby, childhood development and parenting styles so they learn and communicate about how they want to raise their child. It is no different. Cancer is not your child but it is your challenge.

  • You cannot walk into it blindly.
  • Education is power and personal power helps us engage the medical field with our rights as a patient and our right to know.

There are plenty of options and choice points through-out your choice of treatment and your post cancer health choices. Do not let fear place you in a cage fretting about the “what-if?” You can walk outside get in your car and get hit by a bus. What –if you do? Do you stop driving or riding in a vehicle because of the intimidation of what-if?

The reality is that you are going to have to make some choice about your health care and your treatment options. Decisions that only you can make. Also, it is important to know that the general consensus in western medicine is only going to tell you what you ask. It is often, the belief that you will not ask what you don’t want to know. However, if you don’t know what to ask then you can’t ask.

Thus, you might ask:

  • What am I not asking that I should know? Input from your doctor of choice will be helpful but you will have to have confidence that your doctor is acting in your best behalf with all of the evidence and information necessary to increase your odds.

Cancer treatment is a game of odds. Without any treatment of any sort, whether it be western or alternative treatment, the odds are that cancer will kill you. Yes, unexplained remissions can happen, but the odds are not in your favor. For instance, you might sit down at a slot-machine and put in twenty dollars and win sixty grand, but it is not very likely. You have more to lose here than twenty dollars.

It is important that you take the initiative to wade through tons of material that you won’t understand very much, write down your questions and go forward to get answers. However, you can collect data forever.

Once you have collected data and had at least two consults depending on the time it takes you to get an appointment then you have to make a choice.

  • It is an informed choice.
  • It is the best decision you can make at this time.

What exactly do I mean?

  • Cancer cannot have the power to make you powerless.
  • It does make you feel vulnerable, fearful, and anxious but you cannot afford to wallow in those feelings.
  • You must rise to the challenge and make the beset decisions that you can possible make with the information you have.

“But what if I make the wrong decision?” In truth there are no wrong decisions. There are only decisions that you make in good faith that is the best decision that you can make at this time. Remember all of us are going to die one day. Some of us sooner than others and none of us have any control over when that will happen to us. It is our responsibility to do the best we can. That is all that is expected. So with information comes power and with power comes the freedom to act responsibly behalf. We all do the best we can. So will you!

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.

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