LIVING THE LIFE I LOVE Dear Lucy: I am a breast cancer survivor. I had a mastectomy almost 20 years ago. I had chemo and radiation. Recently the cancer has come back. I changed my diet to strict vegetarian, I exercised, I totally changed my lifestyle. I am a praying woman and I just feel like this is unfair and scary. Is there something I missed?
– So Afraid and Tired
Dear Precious One: Please accept my outpouring of love to you. This is an often-repeated story with many types of cancer. There are many new and powerful treatments and diagnostic tools available today and I am sure that you have been a good steward of your physical health. I am also sure that you will consult and follow your physician's advice as one should always do as you seek direction through prayer. The opinion that I share with you is not intended to be medical in any way.
For all that it is worth, here is what my experience has taught me about sickness in general and breast cancer in particular. There is an emotional component to any sickness. Unresolved, deep, negative emotions simply have to be dealt with. This includes emotions like anger, unforgiveness, guilt, envy, deep distrust, lack of safety, along with feelings of unworthiness and undeserving. I have met many women with breast cancer who harbor deep hurts and unresolved anger over events and memories buried deep down inside. Is this true for every woman with breast cancer? Maybe not. But there are some things that only we ourselves know and these are the things that only we can work on by ourselves and for ourselves.
Here are a few ideas for working in your prayer closet with and for yourself. If these questions become hard to work with, seek the help of an experienced emotional counselor.
Remembering that the breasts are referred to as the "bosom," ask yourself, "What have I been holding very close to my bosom for a long time and unwilling to let go of?" On the other hand, "Is there something that I needed to or should have held to my bosom and let it go or had it snatched from me and never got over it?"
Ask, "If this lump was a metaphor for something hard and walled off in my life, what would that be?" "Why and what have I taken in my life and turned into stone and tucked away so that I don't have to face it or deal with it?"
Another really powerful question resonates around anger and unforgiveness. "Have I held onto some old hurt from long ago. Am I holding onto the pain, anger, resentment and unfairness of it?" Even when other parts of your life seem so successful and look so good to others, it is still possible to be holding on to junk that needs to be released.
These are just a few of the questions I put to my clients. Most of the time I don't have to ask because she will tell me as she speaks of her life. Women will talk about the awful dramas they have endured, the hurts, difficult relationships with their own mothers or their own guilt about not being a good mother. Or sometimes there are big and repeated dramas of not being loved and appreciated by the men in their lives. The most prevailing emotions are profound sadness or anger that no amount of success can dissolve. I am not saying that any of this pertains to you. I only offer this as something you can do for yourself. This is inner work, work to take into your prayer closet.
Begin by standing in front of the mirror and visualizing yourself sending showers of love to your bosom. Just love yourself, love this part of your body. This is a simple but wonderful little exercise. You may cry, or laugh. Just stay with it. In the meantime, you have my prayers.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)