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.

5 Ways to Enter Your Sacred Dream Doors For Health Information

Enter Your Sacred Dream Door For Breast Cancer HealingBy: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos- International bestselling author, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing, 3x Breast Cancer Survivor whose dreams diagnosed cancer.

Your dreams are the doorways to a parallel universe where passed over loved ones, guardian angels and spirit guides can speak with you. These conversations can take place using words or pictures and signs from the language of Universal Symbolism, and your own dream language.

Your personal dream language can be confusing. You may feel much like Alice from Wonderland  in Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking-Glass’s when she encountered the frightening Jabberwocky in the forest. Alice could not see the forest for the trees and could not completely understand the Jabberwocky for the words. Alice understood enough words to know there was an important message for her in the frightening dreamscape.

Nightmares are always an important message that can lead us out of the dark.

That is often the case in your dream world-your dreamscape. The information can help you find your way out of the deep dark woods of Cancerland, but first you must understand the dream language.

That is part of the challenge of finding your way through the Sacred Doors of your Dream World filled with information and guidance for a better and more fulfilled life.

These sacred doors connect you with your innate Spirit-guides. You are born with them. You are their job and they take that job seriously.

When you are in crisis of any kind that includes but is not limited to; health, wealth or relationships, those sacred doors are always open. The only way they can close is if you choose to shut them.

If you feel your doors are not open and therefore you do not receive the information you need to live your life purpose, circumnavigate the torturous  waters of an emotional storm, receive guidance on a life threatening illness or live your life to the fullest, just ask for the sacred doors to open and you will receive.

Your request will be heard and answered. It is the Universal Law.

Connecting with your Spirit Guides is as easy as one, two, three.

Here are five strategies for doing so.

1.) Set your intention to the Universe, because it is always listening. Tell the Universe that you wish to meet your Spirit guides in your dreams tonight.
2.) Write your intention on a piece of paper and place it beneath your pillow. You are acting out the requested event by taking an abstract idea (meeting your guides) and making it concrete (writing)  by putting it on a piece of paper. You are taking an idea from the fourth dimension and bringing it into the third dimension of existence. You are connecting these parallel universes with your written intention.
3.) Now, “sleep on your intention.”  Sleeping  on it is a more than a play on words. It is the key to opening the Sacred Doors to answers within the dream world. Everyone has access to these Sacred Doors.
4.) In the morning, write down your dream in your dream journal. If you don’t have a dream journal, go to and download the FREE guidebook in the right-side column. Put the dream journal pages in a note book binder beside your bed. (Replenish the pages when you need more.) Use the free dream journal pages as your own personal dream journal.
5.) Watch for the people, animals and plants in your dream. Underline them and write your feelings about them. What did they say to you? What colors did you see during the dream.
You may have just met some of your guides.  Now, watch for the validation during the day that verifies that your dream was guidance. Validation is very personal. You will know immediately when you get it. You will feel like you have just experienced an “Ah-ha” moment.
Meeting your Spirit guides and guardians will be a positive turning point in your life. It will be the beginning of the next phase of your life-purpose-journey toward your destiny. This is a path you will only travel once in this life time, so enjoy every step of it and remember to smell, the flowers, listen to the animals and walk with the guides in your dreams.
(this excerpt is from Kat’s free Dream Guidebook on her website )
Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos- International bestselling author, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing, 3x Breast Cancer Survivor whose dreams diagnosed cancer, Syndicated Radio Host,  Intuitive Dream Life Coach,  speaker, & “go-to authority” on Survivor- to-Thriver in Health, Wealth & Relationships.  Kat presents at Medical and Life Expos, Radio Shows, Health Events, Magazines, & TV.


7 Lessons to Survive Your Crisis–A Blessing in Disguise!

By Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos
Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos

Have you ever had a gut instinct that disagreed with scientific facts, and then found that you were correct and the facts wrong? You have inner guidance.

Cancer is humbling.  Like any life crisis, it is guaranteed to knock you down with its series of emotional and physical trauma, beginning with discovery and continuing through treatment, often with no end in sight.  Upon hearing a cancer diagnosis, many people feel devastated, confused and alone.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here are seven lessons to help you survive life-crisis.

The first and most important one is: Even in your darkest hour—you are never alone!

I know because I am a three-time, thirteen and ten year breast cancer survivor who found out the hard way that not all cancers are discovered by conventional medical tests.

  • Intuition can play an important part in diagnosis and survival.

Intuition is defined as instinctively knowing without conscious reasoning. Take care of your spirit and it will take care of you.

  • Have you ever wished you had listened to yourself rather than to someone else?

 No matter what stage of treatment or life crisis someone is in, they and their families should listen to their innate intuition when it doesn’t jive with the expert’s advice.  It’s time to let that inner voice guide you, then use modern evaluations for validation.  Listen, then validate!  Your inner voice may save your life, relationships, and financial future.

  • We all have Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels. We are their job and they take their job seriously.

How often do you pray but miss the answers in your dreams? Your dreams are the way your Eternal Teacher (ET) phones home to heaven for help during crisis. Your Higher Power always answers!

  • But, do you believe the answer you hear in your prayers, meditations and dreams? Watch for the validation in everyday life. Validation is indisputable information.

What I seek to achieve by writing this article is an alternative to ignoring our intuition in favor of science or ignoring science in favor of inner guidance.  The best way to survive any health crisis is to mix intuition and science and then cross-check them against each other for answers that are indisputably correct. Be a part of your health and life team because no one knows you better than you know yourself. Listen to yourself.

  • Our bodies have been speaking to us since the beginning of humanity.

Your body uses signs, symbols and symptoms to communicate. Dreams, meditations and prayers are the phone lines to inner-information. Dr. Freud and Dr. Jung used the universal archetypes in dreams to treat patients because they understood connecting with the inner-self during times of crisis. If you ask for guidance you will get it.

It’s time to rediscover your inner-guidance. In order to effectively battle illness, you must get in touch with your inner-selves and work together toward the goal of survival by using everything available to you. By searching within yourself through dreams, meditation or prayer, you will find your own set of answers to any challenge. Become bi-lingual. Learn your personal dream language for a more fulfilled life.

The first time I was diagnosed, I did not believe the test results that came back “negative for cancer,” suggesting that the lump I had discovered months earlier in my breast was just in my head. I summoned the courage to use everything available in this world and the next to save my life.  The physicians and tests had missed the 2.1cm tumor that was Stage-Two cancer—aggressive invasive ductal carcinoma—that had already infected one lymph node. Five years later they missed the second breast cancer that was stage-four invasive lobular carcinoma and a year later the beginning of another lobular cancer in the other breast. Finding the life-saving information in dreams was as lucky as winning the lottery three times in a row. Luck had little to do with it. Divine Intervention did.

My crisis was a wake-up call to change my life, and trust in a Higher Power. Science goes so far and then comes God.  Another challenge was deciding whom to trust—my doctors or my Guardian Angels.  I listened to both and cross-checked them against each other. That information came to bear on me in ways I never imagined as I ran the race of life against time.

I remember my exact moment of dream validation…

 “Pathology didn’t like what they saw when they cut the tumor open,” my surgeon said after closing the privacy curtain behind him. Fear replaced my nausea.

 “So, is it cancer?” I asked, while holding fast to the hospital gurney; bracing myself for the answer I already suspected and feared.

 “Yes, I’m sorry. I’ll refer you to someone else now, a specialist.”

 Thus began my Alice in Wonderland’s steady decent down the dark rabbit hole of Cancerland!

 So my dreams had been right. The doctors and tests were wrong.  With my surgeon’s words, the first shot of my ensuing battle had been fired, and it was not a warning across my bow. It was point-blank into my breast. I glanced down at my painful wound and wept with grief and joy. God was with me.

(From SURVIVING CANCERLAND: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing)

As an R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation Hotline Phone Counselor, Question and Answer Columnist for Cape Women Online Magazine and a three time cancer survivor, I have learned seven important lessons to overcome any crisis.

  1. You are not alone! You are born with inner-guidance but like any innate skill, such as language, it must be perfected.  Practice makes perfect. Perfect your dream language and inner-communication skills.
  1. Believe but validate.  Inner-guidance does not want you to “blindly believe.”  Validation will present itself; more proof that you are not alone.
  1. Ask and you will receive. (Whiners get nothing.) Remember to also give thanks.
  1. Crisis is a wake-up call. So Wake Up! Make changes. Live a more fulfilled and joyful life. What life-lesson did you learn from your life-crisis? Don’t waste this blessing in disguise. It is a golden opportunity to grow with spiritual guidance.
  1. We all have a Life Purpose. Despite what may have happened in the back seat of that old Chevy, no one is an accident.  Accidently is really “accidently on purpose.” If you are alive you are on the path (Life Destiny) to fulfill your Life Purpose. What “guided” you to read this article?
  1. Life is full of crisis within circles of crisis. Embrace them as lessons for life. Dance in the rain and sing in the wind with your Inner Guide and Guardian Angel.  Nothing is permanent, including crisis, so enjoy the storm. You will turn negative power into positive outcome.  The storm will leave you in a fresher world.
  1. Out of crisis comes order. 

Dreams, prayers and meditation can lead us through the dark tunnel of crisis and into the light of inner-order and prosperity.

About the author- Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is an author, inspirational speaker, Radio Host, and three-time breast cancer survivor who penned SURVIVING CANCERLAND: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing  She is represented by  Steve Allen Media and is part of WakeUpWomen

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