Category Archives: Mapping the Emotions

Psychosocial Support in Cancer Care

Psychosocial support in cancer care was addressed briefly Oct. 8 at the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation patient symposium in St. Louis, Mo.  This was one of several cancer treatment topics that I have been reporting about.

Dr. Yasmin Asvat, clinical psychologist at the Siteman Cancer Center, said, “What is a healthy emotional response to a diagnosis? All emotional responses are valid and appropriate. They’re human responses.”

Initial emotions can include sadness, anger, shock, disbelief, denial, and for a few, acceptance.

“Our bodies are looking for balance to be restored,” she said. “If we are not getting to adjustment and acceptance, how can we live well through this journey?”

Thirty percent of patients experience chronic distress after a diagnosis. “To what degree is the distress interfering with the ability to cope effectively?”

Normal feelings like sadness, fear, and vulnerability can become disabling feelings like depression and anxiety.

“Distress can be experienced throughout the cancer care trajectory,” she said.

Dr. Asvat sees her role as partner in balancing patients’ goals with fears. She tries to provide physical interventions and strategies for fatigue, pain, insomnia, and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Trumping Donald by Creating Beauty

I’m going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life.

Elfie Dewolfe, 1859?–1950

 

A friend who was upset about the recent U.S. presidential election read to me the above quote by an American actress and interior decorator. She now is taking this message even more closely to heart.

Others are deeply upset by the election of Donald Trump. One friend cried, feeling that her entire life’s work on behalf of women suddenly was stripped away.

Hidden Voices: Biblical Women and Our Christian Heritage
Hidden Voices: Biblical Women and Our Christian Heritage

A blog reader identified this response as a “time of stress for women.” She wrote, “I had hoped that you would speak yet again for those Hidden Voices.” She was referring to my first traditionally published book about women from the Christian Bible who had been silenced for millennia and only now are being heard with the respect they are due.

“Just know that we value your voice, which can console and comfort in facing the unknown future (culturally, socially, politically, in terms of faith, family, etc.),” she added.

Among the unknowns are how peace and justice issues in our nation could be affected. One response has become the creation of a Women’s March on Washington scheduled for Inauguration Day, Saturday, January 21, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial, 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle, NW, Washington, D.C. As of today, according to the national Facebook page, 96,000 people are “going.”

Look on the internet and you can find many protests against the election of Donald Trump. If you feel so inclined, these might be a way for you to make your voice heard.

Another outcome that is feared is the loss of medical insurance currently made possible for many through the Affordable Care Act, especially among those with pre-existing conditions—like cancer patients.

I know I would have passed away long ago if I had not had the conventional medical care I needed.

Naturally, this is extremely frightening for some.

Yet we always have options. If there’s anything I learned in psychotherapy, it is that I don’t have to play victim anymore. I have choices I can make. Even author Viktor Frankyl (1905 to 1997), father of logotherapy, had choices while interred in totally controlled Nazi German death camps. And he survived.

I recall a family member who, just a few years ago, did not have medical insurance for surgical removal of large kidney stones. So he got on the phone and called one provider after another, obtaining their price points and then asking the next ones if they could do better.

He got major surgery done for about $5,100, a whopping 83% savings, using the phone and the free-enterprise system.

One cancer patient chose to have her surgery done in India. It cost less to fly over and even do a little vacationing there than having the surgery done in the United States. She was happy with her results.

It’s so easy to experience resignation and take on a co-dependent victim stance. To get out of these moods, I have a practice of stopping the mental stories and instead paying attention to these energy-in-motion (e-motion) sensations of hurt, fear, and powerlessness as physical experiences in my body. When processed in a healthy way, I then rise up into textures such as peace, no-thing, and/or gratitude. My body lets go of the stress and I can make better decisions. This powerful healing process is explained in the “Mapping the Emotions” section of Thriver Soup, pp. 183-235.

Once I complete the map, I am able to do as Elfie Dewolfe says and “make everything around me beautiful.”

Thriver Soup Ingredient

How can you make your life more beautiful right here, right now? I focus on making the world a better place through my blog, speaking, and writing. I’d love to hear what you are doing to make the world a more beautiful place so these ideas can be shared with others.

Thriver Soup Thursday: Go Ahead–Walk on Water

So Peter went down from the boat and walked on the water, to come to Jesus.
Matthew 14:29, Christian Bible

peter jesus walking water copyOne night Jesus strides on the surface of a lake toward the boat containing his disciples. One of the passengers, Peter, also wants to walk on the water. For a short time Peter has the faith to move across the choppy surface. He steps completely outside his comfort zone, completely outside his way of perceiving the world, and does something extraordinary. He is truly alive for that brief moment.
I want to fully live my life, which is a longing that springs from years of deadly uterine cancer treatments and threats of hospice. This attitude has helped me face down many things I previously had feared, and to try new experiences my former self would have done anything to avoid.
Prior to 2009, I would never have considered driving in downtown Manhattan, New York. Especially during rush hour.
Well, in June I chose to drive through Manhattan to get to Long Island. After getting lost and rerouted, guess what time I pulled onto the Big Apple? 4 p.m. Just in time for rushing waves of traffic.
Ahead of me there was not a single accident on my route to the Queens–Midtown Tunnel. There were two.
My sister suggested I take a Zen approach and simply allow. So I did, settling into the fact it could take hours to traverse a handful of city blocks. Yet I also decided I was going to be something new, something different, something I had never tried before. I chose to be a bad-as_ behind the wheel.
My brother-in-law had demonstrated how to drive in Manhattan when he helped me get around for my visit to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center during 2009. Be pushy. Honk plenty. Don’t give any room. So I picked up his procedures.
I’d already blared my horn for several minutes to get my sister’s attention so she could find me sitting in a traffic lane. I didn’t budge out of anyone’s line of driving until she was safely buckled in next to me.
At one intersection I crossed only partway and sat in a traffic lane, blocking the perpendicular flow. A man in a big black SUV in an oncoming turning lane honked at me, trying to inch his way in front of my little gold Prius. I crept forward. He yelled at me through his open window and tried again to edge me out. As I was able, I moved forward a little more. This scene continued for several heated minutes.
Finally he gave up. He called me an as_-hole (worse than bad-as_), pulled back and passed behind me. “Oh, Ohio! No wonder!”
I chuckled. I had been enough of a bad-as_ to rouse swearing in another driver. I had stood up to a big bad truck with a driver who might well have rammed my little car. I had played with a Big Apple Boy and hadn’t let him cow me.
Like Peter, I followed someone’s example of living life more fully, and moved completely out of my comfort zone. I faced my fear. And I didn’t sink.
Buoyed by my little personal triumph, I trickled my car forward, eventually got through the tunnel, and made my way to our accommodations.
I had lived fully in those moments. I have no desire to repeat them, yet I have added fresh, new experiences to this adventure called life.
Thriver Soup Ingredient:
Is there something you’re afraid of trying, yet know you would be glad you did? Don’t focus on the fear. Focus on the end result—the feeling of satisfaction of having faced the fear and triumphed. I see this as a way of walking on water ourselves.
Sources:
Lamsa, George M. Holy Bible: From the Ancient Eastern Text: George M. Lamsa’s Translation From the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Harper & Row, May 8, 1985.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMielno_witraz_Piotr_chodzi_po_jeziorze.JPG