Complementary therapies revolutionized my healing journey
By Jessica de la Morena (Spain)
The week of tests scans to reach my diagnosis was the worst week of my life. The first tests indicated that I had a very aggressive cancer that was likely spread all over my body, and I felt like I was waiting for my death sentence. You can imagine how much fear I was experiencing, and so not only did I have extreme anxiety, but I was also not able to sleep.
Through my community I was recommended a psychologist who could accompany me in this journey, and quickly made an appointment to see her. As I poured my heart out to her, it was evident to me how important it is to have someone to talk to that does is not a friend or family member. I was able to externalize a lot of fears and anger that I never would have shared otherwise, because of my concern for the wellbeing of those around me, and particularly because of the guilt I felt for feeling responsible for the hard time they were going through now worrying about me. I continued to see her every week throughout my treatments.
I felt noticeably lighter after these sessions, and once my chemotherapy and radiation treatments began and initial shock wore off, that opened up a space for me to focus on the things I could do to contribute to my overall wellbeing. The first thing I considered was improving my physical wellbeing and aiming to alleviate the side effects I was having from the treatments, such as nausea, headaches, vertigos, and bone aches. A dear friend who teaches Reiki recommended a Reiki therapist who could come to my house, and I jumped on the opportunity. I had tried reiki before, commonly referred to as energy healing, and knew how effective it could be. The following day after chemotherapy the reiki therapist came over, and I had a full 1 hour session, which involves lying down comfortably wrapped up in a blanket, listening to very relaxing music, while the therapist places her hands on different parts of my body. I fell asleep for most of it, but afterwards felt notably less nauseous and very relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. After the session we talked about feelings and thoughts that had emerged during the session, and I agreed to write about them and continue to journal daily. From that day forward I also continued to have Reiki sessions weekly.
In my journaling a lot of interesting emotions came up, which I shared with my psychologist, as well as with my friend who teaches Reiki, and she recommended I try another type of therapy called bio-decoding that she has found extremely powerful and useful. The name certainly piqued my curiosity, and as she recommended it so strongly, I contacted the practitioner she referenced. We spoke on the phone, and he explained to me that bio-decoding is a technique to decode any kind of symptoms (physical, emotional and mental) and resolve their underlying bio-emotional and ancestral cause at the cellular level. I instantly felt comfortable with him and decided to try it. We had a two hour session the next week via skype, and it was mind-blowing. Through questions and visualizations, he skillfully took me back to situations in my past which I had completely obliterated, and we
Uncovered them, I experienced an outrush of emotions that at first were so knotted in my throat that I could not even speak. We exposed situations that had resulted in me adopting certain behaviors as survival mechanisms to deal with those given situations. Subsequently, he took me through an approach to reaffirm to myself that those behaviors or patterns were no longer necessary for me, though they served their purpose to help me at an earlier time, so that I could them go. In the moment, it was an extremely eye-opening process for me, as it helped me to understand many past experiences. That night I couldn´t sleep, feeling tightness in my chest and a lot of angst, but the next day I felt normal again. The even bigger surprise came days later when confronted with a situation related to what we had worked on, I was able to observe it before reacting to it, and I then decided to take on a different approach than I was accustomed to. I had a subsequent follow up 2-hour session, as we focused on items that in my therapist´s experience he had seen in others with similar illnesses, and more interesting realizations ensued. I have journaled extensively about what I have learned and discussed it with my psychologist, and I practice new behavior as I am faced with new situations that give me the opportunity to try a different approach than what I would have done in the past. This results in me generally being happier and exposed to less emotional stress.
Both my psychologist and Reiki therapist recommended I practice meditation daily, and though I had done guided meditations in the past, this was something I was accustomed to. I found some 10 min guided breathing meditations online, and I started doing these twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. More often than not I would pass out listening to them, but I found that the sleep was quite repairing. I also put alarms on my phone throughout the day to remind myself to pause and breathe deeply a few times. Both the meditations and the pauses during the day grounded me and quieted my mind and felt like cold and soothing shower to my brain. I have subsequently become quite addicted to these practices and crave them in moments of overwhelm, which are indicators of their extreme effectiveness. I use these practices in moments of extreme stress, such as during my quarterly check-up scans while I am in a machine for an hour, transforming what would have been 60 minutes of recollecting of terrible things to a relaxing and calming 60 hour meditation that induces sleep. I have also introduced daily physical movement into my routine, which is another a form of mindfulness that also exercises my body.
My treatments were so aggressive that my blood work showed extremely low levels of immune system capability and red blood cells function, and this meant that my treatment could be delayed, as my body needed time to recover before being able to withstand the next one. A good friend who had been through a similar treatment told me about how a predominantly plant-based diet and eating certain foods had helped her improve her body recovery times. After much research and also seeing a nutritionist specialized in oncology, I started growing my own broccoli sprouts, including certain superfoods such as turmeric, ginger, and ashwaganda in my morning fruit and veggie smoothies, removing gluten and cow milk, and ensuring to have salmon and other fish instead of red meats, among other things. I instantly felt better. Additionally, I noticed that my blook work showed faster recovery times.
I continued to investigate and try different additional therapies, and I am convinced that each and every one of them contributed to my overall wellbeing and therefore supported my body´s capability to recover from my illness. These complementary therapies have different angles and are helpful independently, but together they resulted in a more holistic approach towards my recovery. I am forever grateful to all these therapists who have accompanied me on my wellbeing journey and have helped me learn more about myself along the way.
In retrospect it´s amazing to think that had it not been for my illness I would not have discovered any of these tools that are now an integral part of my selfcare plan. I continue to use these and other therapies to support me in my inner work, as I have realized that I have only seen the tip of the iceberg and that this is a lifelong journey in itself. They have empowered me dramatically and helped reinforce my response-ability, allowing me to see decision-points which before were hidden to me.
It is easy to fall back into old habits once the urgency related to an illness is no longer there, however, it is equally easy to ensure you have a self-care plan that includes those therapies and practices that feel right to you and to make sure that you have time for these very useful tools
And I’d love to ask – what complementary therapies, practices, and lifestyle changes have been pivotal for you?
Tell me and others about it as this openness supports us all on our journeys. In helping others, YOU can also be the hero for them.
I encourage you to share your story with others and add the #uarethehero hashtags and tag @u_are_the_hero on Instagram. Also, please grow our movement by sharing my account with your network so that we can build a supportive and healing community.
I’m sending you much strength and love, and a reminder that no matter your journey you are not alone. And oftentimes the hero you are searching for has been within you the whole time.