Alternative Approach to My Cancer Care
By: Heather Von St. James, This is a guest post
Every cancer patient and survivor I know, has their life divided into two distinct parts. The life before cancer, and the life after the diagnosis... My life forever changed on November 21st, 2005 when I was given a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis, just 3 1/2 months after the birth of my first and only child.
Just what IS pleural mesothelioma? It is a rare cancer of the lining of the lung that is particularly brutal with a typical mesothelioma life expectancy of only a few months after diagnosis. Mesothelioma is almost always associated with asbestos exposure.
I am one of the lucky ones, I have survived 5 1/2 years since I chose to do an extreme surgery called an extra pleural Pneumonectomy. What this surgery consists of is removing the tumor, the entire left lung and all surrounding tissue! Including the diaphragm, and lining of the heart, which was replaced with surgical gore-Tex and also the removal of my 6th rib. During the surgery I had a heated chemo wash, to further ensure the destruction of any cancer cells.
When one is given a cancer diagnosis, something strange happens, you will do what ever it takes to get rid of it, and also do anything to feel better. With all of the chemical warfare going on inside of my body, I felt compelled to seek out alternative therapies that would not interfere with the chemotherapy. I knew I had to do the chemo and radiation but also knew there were other things I could do to make the journey easier. I sought out various forms of healing work, Reiki, Energy work, good old fashioned prayer with my pastor, and also when I started feeling better, I started yoga. As luck would have it my sister, who was my caregiver directly after surgery, is also a Reiki master and would do daily sessions of Reiki on me which helped me relax, and helped me sleep, when I went home to MN and she home to OR, we made "Reiki Dates" where I would call her, and over the phone she would even perform Reiki. And it had the same result! I sought out prayer with my pastor, as much for mental and physical reasons as spiritual. My faith in God and his healing is a big part of my journey, many prayer sessions were had, and each one grounded me in my faith and my resolve to beat this disease. The energy work and yoga go hand in hand with the other therapies, all about calming the mind, strengthening the body and spirit.
I believe that these approaches along with the traditional medicine prescribed have really helped me, not only LIVE, but THRIVE.