I stepped over this rock on May 19th, 2018. We were hiking the Lower Bluff Trail at Frontenac State Park on the Mississippi River. Paul and I were in the midst of an intense diet in preparation for my second physique show in June. I distinctly remember that conversation. We were talking about how great it felt to be where we were. I said that I’d felt the best yet in my life - strong, energized and healthy. I was feeling on top of the world.
I stepped over that same rock today, October 5th 2018 as a cancer survivor.
I’ve been lost in the wonder of why. Why did I get cancer? Why do we say we “get” cancer when it’s not possible to acquire it? I began questioning everything in my life. Does anything I’ve done matter? Did it matter that I’ve been treated with homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy and massage for years? Did I do something wrong? Does God or the Universe think it’s time for me to be done with this life? Why me?
These questions overwhelmed me and revealed my monkey mind. They would jump, twist and morph, all at once coming to some conclusion then being lost in my jungle of thoughts. The fingers of these questions stretched into every situation and were there with every stray thought.
It wasn’t until after surgery, after I heard the words “cancer free” from my surgeon that these questions were allowed to settle. No longer charged with intense fear, I could actually look at them - pick them up one by one and see what was there for me. Written here is what I can remember of that examination and what is still being uncovered.
Why am I explaining this in writing? I am doing so for you the reader and me. I do so for myself because writing helps me to make sense of it all and connect to a deeper mystery. It allows me to narrate my experience and capture my history. Writing helps me to calm my monkey mind which is always moving to avoid my deeper fears and self-blame. I am writing for you to demonstrate genuineness and to remind you that we are all on a healing journey.
I don’t know why I developed thyroid cancer. However, there are some things that I do know and theoretical connections that I can make in retrospect. I developed severe asthma around the age of four which plagued me into my twenties. At that time my parents only understood one path of treatment - with an albuterol inhaler. After many years of homeopathic education and studying holistic medicine I now understand that this is too long, although still a common practice in allopathic medicine. My organs and tissues were awash in steroids. This effectively suppressed my asthma and upper respiratory symptoms. So I decided to search for a link between this treatment and thyroid cancer. I was able to find one study linking inhaled steroid use and papillary thyroid carcinoma but many linking hypothyroidism with albuterol use.
Curiouser and curiouser.
In homeopathy we understand cancer to be a disease and that it has certain signs and symptoms. These were first worked out by a doctor named Foubister, who studied these characteristics in over 200 children at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. This exploration and my study of the energies of cancer fascinates me; it is like getting to know an uninvited guest who arrives on your doorstep.
Foubister and other homeopathic practitioners since the late 1950s have developed a cancer picture that helps us to recognize and further understand the state and disease of cancer in each individual. Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer can start any place in the body. It starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. There is a sense of both chaos and a want of control in people experiencing cancer. This makes it hard for the mind and body to work the way it normally would without this cancer energy.
Other characteristics of the cancer picture are: A tremendous fear of cancer, fear in a crowd, fear in narrow places, a sense of diffusion, and a great love of nature to name a few symptoms (don’t worry not everyone who loves nature or has some of these traits will develop cancer).
As I’ve studied these uniques traits of the cancer miasm, themes of this newfound uninvited guest are evident throughout my life. As an asthmatic child, and in retrospect I felt a great sense of chaos. Chaos is an incredible word that really describes my experience of not being able to breathe and all of the fears and unknowns around that. I can only imagine how scary it would have been for my mother and father to see me struggling to breathe. We became watchful. At first, it was never knowing what would trigger an attack, when it would occur, my parents often raced me to the emergency room because I couldn’t breathe. On top of this, I felt completely out of control (total chaos). Not only did I not have control of my breathing, I had no control over my medical experience. I don’t know if it was me or just the early 80’s, but I don’t ever recall any of my care providers telling me what was going on or what they were going to do. All I remember being scared. Really scared. Fear. These fears grew in my monkey mind.
So, I have asked and many of you have likely questioned, “Why didn’t 14 years of homeopathic treatment keep me from getting cancer?” I’m sure you’re wondering because I have too and it is only natural to question. The short answer: I don’t really know. The longer answer: I have both genetic tendencies and 27 years of living before I began my homeopathic journey. I know understand that the cancer process starts long before signs and symptoms or tumors appear.
Through my cancer experience, I believe that my homeopathic treatment helped me to heal quickly from surgery, kept the cancer localized to one spot, helped me to stay emotionally intact and have perspective during the entire experience. Let’s dig into these assertions a bit further.
First, I healed quickly and well. The surgery was free from complications, very little blood loss and an easy recovery. The first night was challenging with nausea from both the anesthesia and the position that my head has been in for four hours. Fortunately, that wasn’t compounded with pain. I had some tenderness in my neck area but no pain. The first night home I took one ibuprofen pill because I was feeling a little uncomfortable. The pain wasn’t unbearable but I was afraid it would get worse and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Other than that, I never took any pain medication. Immediately after surgery, my husband began giving me the homeopathic remedies as prescribed by my homeopathic practitioner (I do not treat myself), Arnica montana and Hypericum perforatum. That was all I needed for pain.
As I wrote in my blog, I did end up back in the hospital for symptoms which, to the medical community, looked like symptoms of hypocalcemia - tingling lips, face and fingers. I was re-admitted for observation and a couple rounds of IV calcium. Looking back, I don’t think that my symptoms were necessarily from hypocalcemia. My levels weren’t low enough to account for the physical symptoms I was having. I was in shock and was trying to come to grips with all of what had happened to my body and the sudden removal of this uninvited guest.
I had new symptoms that appeared including tingling and light-headedness and there was a correlation between the symptoms and drinking coffee. This theory was further supported when, a week after my hospitalization, I had the same symptoms. I walked home from work with exhaustion, tingling face and fingers. I knew that my numbers weren’t too low as they’d been checked just days before. I checked in with my homeopathic practitioner and began taking my constitutional remedy. Even though I am a homeopathic practitioner myself it is awesome and remarkable to experience homeopathy in action. As soon as I took these doses, the symptoms lifted. I was instructed to take my constitutional every half hour as needed. I observed as I came up on a half hour, the tingling started coming back and taking another dose, they would dissipate until they completely lifted. My system was unbalanced from the shock of surgery, anesthesia and head position. Thankfully my carefully selected constitutional remedy continually brought me closer to balance and continues to help me restore my health.
Secondly, my cancer was localized. Certainly there is no way to go back in time and know if, had I not taken remedies, my health history would have changed in any way. Thus, everything I write here is supposition. There is a history of cancer in my family (another indicator of the cancer miasm). Many of my relatives have or had cancer. My grandfather died of lung cancer. My dad has prostate cancer. My great aunt died of throat cancer. My uncle died of colon cancer. It’s all there. Not one of these relatives had a cancer that was easily treated by surgery. Except me. A girl’s gotta wonder if the way I’ve chosen to “do” health care for myself made a difference? I believe strongly that my choices do make a difference. I also understand that our bodies have these kind of symptoms no matter what we do. I believe we can learn from any uninvited guest or symptoms or experiences.
Finally, I’ve been able, as well as possible, to stay emotionally stable throughout this experience. I am not invulnerable. I can be vulnerable too. I’ve been able to stay present and curious, wondering what this experience is meant to teach me.
Since I no longer have a thyroid, I take thyroid replacement hormone every morning. I’ve read numerous accounts of patients who have had a difficult time adjusting to the replacement hormone. I read a story about a woman who plunged into a few years of depression when her system didn’t respond well. Reading accounts online, I’ve been incredibly grateful that my body accepts this new hormone without issue. I believe strongly this is result of my lengthy homeopathic journey, which strengthens my spirit to support me and grounds me. This is, in part, why I’ve been able to stay so emotionally centered.
What’s left for me now is to retrain my voice. It’s common that following a thyroidectomy your voice is messed up. Following surgery, your vocal chords get traumatized and need to heal. At first I sounded like a gravely rooster (I have a new respect for roosters!) When my voice would get tired, I’d whisper. I was advised to do my best to talk very little but it’s very difficult not to talk when you’re around your friends and family! So I talked, whispered and probably over-did it.
The trouble now is that I’ve trained my voice to talk around my trauma. It’s sort of hard to explain but as far as I can tell, there are a couple of different ways of talking. There’s the normal way - with your vocal chords, forcing them to vibrate together and using them alone to project louder sounds. Then there’s my post-surgery way and why I felt like a gravely rooster - doing some weird neck thrust forward, tightening the muscles in your neck and certain tendons in my jaw to make the sounds and mostly to project more sound.
This has led me to have violin-string-tight tendons coming down from my jaw to my neck and constantly painful, tight muscles running down from the back of my head to my shoulders. By the end of the day I am both emotionally and physically exhausted from attempting to control my voice. I’m also experiencing sadness because not only are things not back to normal yet but I can’t communicate the way I’d like to. I have faith that I will restore my voice and heal my vocal cords fully! However, I am impatient and ready to move on to the next experience!!
This past weekend we arrived at our campsite for MEA weekend. We sat around the fire and I was going to get a chance to practice some voice exercises we’d found online. I started with the stretches, slowly rolling my shoulders, stretching my neck and looking side to side. Three rounds of exercises and it was time to vocalize. I stopped. I pretended no one was paying attention and silently planned to practice again later when I was totally alone.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) Paul had been listening and watching closely. When I stopped he questioned me as he does so lovingly. I found myself wanting to make something up but I actually admitted that I was feeling tremendously self conscious. Beautifully, one of my daughters said, “Mama, that is exactly how I feel when I feel others are judging me.” I felt her words in my entire body. They washed over me and I felt complete compassion for her struggle and for myself. Then, my entire family chimed in and we all did our vocalizations together. Beautiful. As you can read, my life and journey is still unfolding. I appreciate that you are a part of my journey.