Cancer: Being a Proactive Patient: Accepting “Response-ability” (Note: the following is excerpted from Cancer: Embracing the Healing Journey, but is applicable to any serious illness or dis-ease):

Many of us have been raised to believe that the doctor is there to “fix us" and make us better – that we are simply the patient, who must “patiently" accept whatever the doctor tells us to do. While it’s essential to respect and trust your physician, it's also your right and responsibility as a patient to play an active role in your healing process.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, most likely your world’s suddenly been turned upside down. The amount of new information you must integrate would be difficult in the best of times, let alone when experiencing extreme emotional stress. Often, recommendations are presented by your physician with a sense of urgency, and sometimes choices need to be made very quickly. While it’s important, of course, to act immediately when the situation necessitates it, I encourage you to give yourself time, when at all possible, to ingest the information you’ve been given, do any research you deem necessary, and seek second opinions if appropriate, before making any major decisions. Taking even a little bit of time at decision points along the way, to reflect, research, and consult can bring an important sense of self-empowerment and self-confidence – a sense that you are making informed choices for your own well-being, not simply being a passive victim of something happening to you.

Please remember, however, that, while it may feel important for you to gather more information regarding your situation, it can also quickly become an additional source of stress, due to the sheer volume of information available. Finding a balance between being informed, and being overwhelmed is essential, and everyone’s balance point is different. It’s important to honor yours.

In addition to the decision-making process, sometimes simply interacting with your doctor can feel very stressful and disempowering. Many of us have less-than-pleasant associations with doctors’ offices and hospitals. It’s important to simply acknowledge whatever yours may be. Awareness affords the opportunity to make new choices, to create more positive mental associations, and to cultivate more empowered states of mind.

Bernie Siegel M.D, the well-known surgeon, speaker and founder of ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients) Center, in his groundbreaking book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, says, “Miracles…come from finding your authentic self and following what you feel is your own true course in life.” Bernie shares many useful ideas regarding how to become an exceptional patient, and an exceptional human being. He advocates speaking up for yourself - being what he calls a “difficult patient”.

Often, one of the gifts cancer can bring is the opportunity to practice standing up for yourself, speaking your truth, and communicating your needs clearly. It can be very valuable to rehearse these skills first in your imagination. By doing this, you’re in effect creating a “blueprint”, which will make acting as you prefer in the “real” situation much easier. Imagining a scene as you’d like it to be is a powerful way of programming the mind and body how to respond in a given situation. Athletes, for example, use the power of their imagination to enhance their outer performance all the time. So can you!

There are also a number of outer actions you can take to help prepare yourself, including writing out your questions, using a tape recorder during your appointment with your doctor, and/or bringing someone with you to help remember all that’s been discussed. Repeating back to the doctor what you think you heard is also a helpful thing to do.

And remember, there is no such thing as a silly or dumb question!

You deserve to be listened to. You deserve to have your questions answered. Without feeling rushed! You deserve to ask for what you need…from your doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as from your family and friends, and from yourself. If you do your best to clearly and respectfully communicate your needs, you may be pleasantly surprised at most people’s willingness to accommodate them.

  Please find below a special message from our sponsor, Cancer Defeated.Of course, it’s equally important to recognize and honor others’ needs as well. Doctors, nurses, friends and loved ones have their own challenges to deal with. Once again, it’s all about balance.

So whether your biggest challenge is in learning to receive or learning to give, in humbling or asserting yourself, if you do your best to act from a place of love and compassion, you will be effecting great healing for all involved.

Nancy’s Cancer: Embracing the Healing Journey CDs provide gentle assistance in finding and maintaining this delicate and empowering balance. In this double CD set and booklet, Nancy compassionately guides you through many aspects of the journey, including dealing with the shock of diagnosis, being a proactive patient, listening within for your own inner wisdom, embracing all emotions, and enhancing healing with guided imagery, affirmation, and deep relaxation – all essential elements for optimal body-mind-spirit healing. Nancy’s been there. As you listen, you will know you are not alone.

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