My Cancer Journey
by Linda Townsend
May 2005 was when I first heard those life-changing words, “You have cancer.” I felt as if I was receiving a death sentence. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer at age 54 and was given a 90 percent chance of recovery. But she lost her battle just three years later.
What reason did I have to believe my story would end differently? Full of apprehension, I began my journey as a breast cancer survivor.
Christmas that year was a season of celebration and joy. I had completed my treatment, and I was determined to enjoy the holidays and get my life back to normal. Then just two months later, my doctor delivered devastating news – I had uterine cancer. I was immediately thrown back into that hectic world of a newly diagnosed cancer patient. More tests, more surgeries, more treatments, and more fear.
I began experiencing panic attacks and bouts of depression. Instead of reaching out, I withdrew and internalized my anxiety.
Thanks to caring and skilled doctors, my treatment was again successful and I was once again cancer free. However, while the doctors had healed my body, my mind and spirit were in urgent need of repair.
Friends stopped calling, not knowing how to deal with my situation, and I began experiencing panic attacks and bouts of depression. I didn’t know which way to turn. Instead of reaching out, I withdrew and internalized my anxiety.
Then a friend told me about mind-body programs being offered at a local cancer center, and I hoped that I could find some support. I met with a mind-body counselor who suggested that I might benefit from Reiki, an ancient Japanese treatment for relaxation. I jumped at the opportunity, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I would gain from the experience. The only thing I was sure of was that I was eager for a solution. I knew I could not go on this way, putting undue stress on my family and myself.
Today, I am a happy, relaxed, four-year cancer survivor. I am traveling my cancer journey with newfound strength and serenity. I have become a Reiki practitioner, and I now dedicate my time and efforts to helping other people find the inner peace I discovered. Each new day is a glorious gift, and I am thankful for the opportunity to comfort and inspire others.
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Linda Townsend is a breast and uterine cancer survivor living in Nutley, NJ. She volunteers as a Reiki practitioner at local cancer centers and hospice centers.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, September/October 2009.