Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy
Anxiety, Fear and Chemotherapy
by Maurice Kouguell, Ph.D., BCETS.
DIPLOMATE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF EXPERTS IN TRAUMATIC STRESS
(With gratitude to Dr. Dwight Damon for encouraging me to write)
Surgery for Colon Cancer was on August 13th 2002.
As soon as I discovered I had cancer, I started to research how to participate in my healing journey. It was important that I become proactive and use any and all resources available to me for my successful journey. Since most of the techniques involve manipulation of the bodys energy field and using nutrients, it is recommended to consult with your health care provider before trying any of the following.
Looking back, I am convinced that I was being prepared for the experience of cancer. Over the past three years, I had experienced an important surge in my emotional and spiritual development. I developed techniques for myself to curb anger and channel it into unconditional acceptance. I have attained a comfortable level of self acceptance and acceptance of others. (I also feel that I was being prepared to help others in their journey.)
I have found that a support system is essential.
Kathi is my wife, my mentor and my hope. She is not only caring and loving, but is endowed with an incredible wisdom and insight. She is my primary support system and a major player in my everyday life. The experience of cancer is not limited to the patient alone. It becomes a family affair. It becomes a mutual journey of concerns, fears, support and special care stemming from unconditional love in a marriage. We continue to learn from one another and grow.
Rev. Dr. Marcy Seidel, a spiritual healer, and I met over 10 years ago when we both gave workshops at the U.N. I had consulted with her on some personal issues and was amazed not only by her psychic abilities but also by her intuition and wisdom. We had several phone consultations and I felt that I had been guided to reach out to her. Dr. Seidel played a major role in my spiritual journey, not only through her prayers, but also with her ability to combine her wisdom and psychic gifts.
Cristina, an old friend who went through some very difficult times in her life and struggled with her own anger, found her way through the Bible and I graciously and gratefully accepted her guidance and reintroduction to the Bible. She also became a mentor to me.
The support from my extended family and the daily calls from my brother Alex were most welcomed. Many dear friends prayed for me and sent me healing energy.
I am very fortunate to have found a physician, Dr. Peter Degnan, who understands and encourages my proactive participation. He listens to me and I cant emphasize enough how important it is for anyone, especially someone with cancer, to have an internist who is brilliant, listens and understands the mind-body-spirit connection. It was my good fortune that he is also trained in Chinese medicine, acupuncture and nutrition.
Maureen Armstrong, a Reiki master, came highly recommended. Not only is her work most beneficial, but also somehow she always appears to be there for me at the most unexpected times, even just before surgery, or sees to it that someone works with me during chemotherapy if I feel the need.
But above all, Kathis selfless support plays an important and extensive role in my daily life. Let me add here that I have had some knee/walking problems for a number of years and have had to be driven around and at times cared for. We have agreed that we have to accept the present. This is the way it is for the moment and for me to apologize because of my temporary limitation is not acceptable. She goes with me for every chemotherapy session and we both agreed that her presence would be honored only by mutual agreement. We have to be as honest and frank with one another as possible. There are times when there is nothing she can do. Acceptance is essential. And so it is.
CONCERNS ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY
My concerns about the cancer and chemotherapy side effects were reinforced by one of my physicians who stated repeatedly that once you have cancer, you are never the same. At that point I realized it was imperative to find another doctor.
My apprehension was also reinforced by one of the nurses who described the process and side effects of chemotherapy as being incredibly devastating. Fortunately, I was trained in surrounding myself with a mental shield of protection and avoiding negativity from others. Still, of all the side effects of chemotherapy, the ones I dreaded most were nausea and vomiting.
BEING PROACTIVE IN YOUR TREATMENT
It was important for me to take charge of my emotions and to be proactive on my journey. The following are some of the techniques I have used:
Self Hypnosis remains one of my strongest tools
Emotional Freedom Techniques *
Staying in the present and practicing the Power of Now
Ginger candies, teas etc
Peppermint candies, teas etc.
Smelling peppermint aromatic oils
TAKING CONTROL FOR ME MEANS ELIMINATING FEAR
Although a practicing hypnotherapist for over 25 years as well as being versed in Mindfulness, Energy Therapies, Guided Imagery, Visualization et al, I chose to turn to the works of my colleagues for additional insight. I listened to several tapes produced by my colleagues. Knowing and using self-hypnosis remains the most potent tool for me. (I do not believe that there is one technique suitable to every one and therefore suggest that the interested learn from a reliable hypnotist.)
Even though I practice Emotional Freedom Techniques, I felt too close to my own situation and needed objective guidance. I was fortunate to consult with, and receive an immediate response from, Dr. Pat Carrington a few days prior to my surgery. She e-mailed me the following:
I will use your question in my newsletter, but since your surgery is imminent I will answer it today, and print the answer a couple of weeks from now.
What I advise people who are confronting a potentially life-threatening, health-threatening situation is to use EFT* in a special way both in terms of the issues they confront, and the EFT Choices they make for coping with them.
Here are my suggestions for you.
It is of the utmost importance that you express how you REALLY FEEL about the situation when formulating your set-up phrase for EFT. You will want it to express what it is doing to you inwardly to have heard about this diagnosis and its seriousness, and to be facing the upcoming surgery. I am suggesting, in effect, that you go right into the heart of the hurricane, that you be completely honest with yourself and say it like it is to yourself. You should make set-up statements (there will probably be several of them) that reflect the most intense emotions you are feeling right now statements that are, in this sense, NOT objective. You will need to confront the fear, or sense of outrage, or uncertainty, or despair or whatever other emotions may be there, by experiencing the full force of it there will be plenty of time for bravery and taking a stiff upper lip at other points during the next few days but that is not appropriate when you are doing EFT.
What is required here is to get at raw feelings and then tap them down. This is so that you can deal with them once and for all, so the EFT has something to work with and therefore can help where help is needed most within your own self. It can allow you to handle and become strangely at peace with your own fears and doubts, if you let it.
Im going to share with you some set-up phrases that people have used successfully in situations similar to yours. As you read them over, see which ones may fit your own situation, in whole or in part, and modify the phrases accordingly where necessary. You need to follow only one rule when doing this: DO NOT WATER DOWN AND TRY TO MINIMIZE ANY EMOTION THAT YOU ARE FEELING. It is dealing with the raw emotion, recognizing and accepting it, that is going to heal you of the painful inner feelings, and which may perhaps ultimately heal you of the colon cancer certainly it will greatly improve your prognosis if the negative emotions around this illness can be removed. So here goes for the list of Even thoughs
You might want to say, Even though Im in shock about whats happening (or stunned or numb or whatever adjective fits your own feelings), I choose to be calm and effective and at peace with myself, and the situation.
If so, you would follow this by doing the Choices Trio one whole round of just the negative part of the set-up phrase (the usual procedure in EFT) which in this instance is. Im in shock about whats happening. You might want to do two full rounds of just this phrase in order to take the edge off the negative here.
Then follow this by ONE WHOLE ROUND where you just repeat the positive part of the set-up phrase, your Choice, at each acupoint. In this case you would say, I choose to be calm and effective and at peace with myself, and the situation at each tapping point.
Finally, you would follow this with the third part of the Choices Trio in which you alternate positive and negative statements as you proceed through the whole sequence. For example, at the inner eyebrow spot you would say, Im in shock about whats happening. and at the next acupoint (Outer Eye) you would say, I choose to be calm, and effective, and at peace with myself, and the situation. You would continue alternating these phrases (thereby linking a positive outcome to your negative thoughts each time) for the entire EFT sequence and for as many rounds thereafter as you might need until a sense of calm came over you and something inside you cleared. (You will feel that happen when it does.)
Depending upon your personal reaction to the shock of the diagnosis and coming surgery, your set-up phrases might be different from the above. Instead of in shock it might be more appropriate for you to say, Even though Im terrified or Even though Im outraged (or furious) etc., but remember to always go for the most extreme form of the set-up statement dont water down your feelings and be polite. You are only talking to yourself in this process and you want to face the uncensored truth, squarely and head on. This is what will help you find real relief.
After you have tapped your way to a more peaceful state, then you will want to reinforce this victory. I suggest you take a 3x5 index card and write on it your entire set-up phrase, and then read that card out loud to yourself just before you go to bed at night, and again when you first awake in the morning. If you wish (and it would be a good idea considering the urgency of this situation) you could also make a copy of this set-up phrase to carry with you and take out the card and read it out loud at intervals throughout the day when you were stopping the car at a red light while driving, or whenever else is convenient. It will strongly reinforce this positive thought and help you make the jump from negative to positive on a deep non-conscious level.
You should also keep taking your SUDS level (distress rating on a scale from zero to ten) every hour if possible throughout the waking day (or if you awake at night) If you find your rating is ABOVE a 2, then use the Choices Trio procedure as outlined and immediately tap it down to a zero or one again. Keep doing this! The repetition is very powerful.
In fact, you should keep up this routine until a few minutes before your surgery, adding as well some other Choices which may be important to you such as I choose to have a remarkably successful surgery and recovery or whatever outcome you may wish. It will truly help the surgery to do this. I have seen it do more than help. I have known it to positively influence the outcome of an illness in a remarkable way.
In short, I am advising you here to use EFT repeatedly to handle this crisis. You will be far stronger and better able to cope if you do.
With all my best wishes for a fine recovery from this condition and, I am sure, those of the readers of my newsletter,
STAYING IN THE PRESENT AND THE POWER OF NOW
Overcoming fear and stress can be accomplished by staying in the present. This may take a while to master but will certainly prove to be a most valuable technique. I recommend reading about Mindfulness. Another source helpful to me was The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Affirmations have been most helpful to me. I discovered that reinforcing listening to them and reading them left a stronger impact on me. I have listened to several tapes dealing with Chemotherapy and my personal preference goes to Chemotherapy and Guided Imagery on one side and Affirmations on the other. This is one of a series of tapes produced by Belleruth Naparstek. I transcribed and read and reread the affirmations.
Reverend Dr. Seidel provided the following:
I AM HEALED
I AM SUCCESSFUL. I WILL FULFILL MY MISSION
I LOVE MY MIND
I LOVE MY BODY
I LOVE MY FAMILY
I LOVE GOD
(12 REPETITIONS ARE RECOMMENDED MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT)
Cristine suggested the following prayers:
Thank you, God, for the kindness you showed Maurice in answering our prayers for his operation. Lord God, we know that you are perfect and that whatever you start you finish successfully, therefore we now ask that you finish the beautiful work you started in Maurice's life and claim your beautiful promise: "He who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Please give Maurice a complete, speedy and harmonious recovery so that not only his health but his faith will be strengthened too. Praised be your Name in heaven and on earth. Amen.
First of all, let us thank God for answering our prayers so graciously. Praise Him! Let us approach the greatest Healer now and say:
"Jesus, you have been God's healing hand during and after my operation. Thank you. I want you to be the designer of my treatment on Monday; please empower the doctor with your wisdom, truth and knowledge, help him make the right decisions, and protect us all from evil.
Jesus, I am claiming your promises; you said:
--'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'
Please give me rest from my fears and help me trust you completely.
You also said: -''Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved'.
(Please save me from this illness)
-'I will be with you until the end of time.' Be with me always.
Maurice, I'd like to add that when God starts something He finishes it successfully because He is perfect. So, after helping you discover your illness early, He made sure your operation went well and now He will design the perfect treatment for you. He knows best and He is in control. Just have faith and let His will be done.
And He will answer because:
God is faithful, God is just
He is the only one I can trust.
With lots of love,
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, Master, we're scared."
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, Master, we're scared."
"Come to the edge," he said.
He pushed them
Freedom is our destiny.
May you discover the boundless joy at the core of your being. This is your invitation to freedom, your road map to the soul.
Are you ready to soar?
Dr. Maurice Kouguell is available to address groups or meet with individuals who feel they could benefit from his experience.
Please visit him at:www.brooksidecenter.com
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone/Fax: 603 778 9955
*A comprehensive explanation of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) with a complete slide show can be viewed at: www.brooksidecenter.com by clicking on Emotional Freedom Technique on the Home Page.
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