Learning to Dance with Cancer

Posted by Diana Brueton
26 February, 2014

I dreamt I was going down a ski slope. It looked tricky, but to my surprise I found it quite easy, I had the ability to do it, and I could see I was going to make it on to the flat section ahead. I am coping, I feel OK right now, I need to remember I have the ability to cope and that I am doing so. I was even enjoying the downhill skiing.

I gradually built up a regime which I’m sure helped me through the chemo. I’m including it here in case it’s of use to anyone, but stress these were just my personal choices.

The regime

  1. Vitamins D and K (supportive of chemotherapy)
  2. Slippery elm regularly, to aid the digestive system, including putting a paste of it in the mouth last thing at night, to help prevent mouth ulcers
  3. Psyllium husks to aid digestion
  4. Salvestrols
  5. Zeolites
  6. A good mouthwash – not chlorhexidine as this destroys ‘good’ bacteria too, and a soft toothbrush to prevent mouth damage
  7. Colloidal silver to protect from infections
  8. Vitamin C only in moderation, as it can interfere with chemo uptake
  9. Pau d’arco tea, soothing for the stomach
  10. Dandelion coffee, liver-cleansing
  11. Quercetin
  12. Curcumin
  13. Selenium
  14. Magnesium citrate
  15. No caffeine
  16. Fresh vegetable juices
  17. High calorie build-up drinks (not from a packet)
  18. Maitake tablets
  19. Acidophilus
  20. Homeopathic remedy
  21. Organic food
  22. Something to eat in the night to keep the calories up
  23. Castor oil body packs
  24. Soothing teas such as chamomile
  25. Regularly moisturising feet and hands as chemo makes them very dry.
  26. Milk thistle
  27. No yeast in food if possible, to stave off thrush from chemo
  28. An acid-free diet if possible
  29. Omega oil
  30. Linseed oil
  31. Iscador (a homeopathic remedy – I asked for a referral through my GP)

[Many of these supplements are available directly from Cygnus – Click Here to see the full range]

Hero’s Journey

Most of this was just to support the physical body. I knew that my thoughts and inner being needed even more attention. And this is what my time with cancer has been all about. Pat Pilkington, co-founder of BCHC, uses the ‘Hero’s journey’ of myth as an archetype or metaphor for the cancer experience:

The Hero leaves all that is familiar, comfortable and companionable, and in the dark before dawn, rises alone and sets off to journey to the far country. It takes consummate courage and faith to face the ‘dragon Fear’ and rescue the ‘Maiden’: the true Self. The Hero returns, changed by the experience.

My body has suddenly become quite strange and alien to me, as though it’s not really mine. Will it suddenly get an infection from some small thing it would previously have shrugged off, what’s this tiny ache I would previously have ignored? So… it’s time to befriend it. To own it. And in particular to acknowledge it for the fantastic job it’s done all my life, and still now. Thank you, lovely body. Let me know what you need. I’ll love you, not be scared of you.

Living in a glass box

That’s what having chemo is like. I could see life going on all around me, people going about their normal business as though they would live forever. ‘Normal’ for me now was feeling more and more tired, spending a lot of time resting in bed. I could be doing something very ordinary, taking it for granted, when the un-ordinariness of it all would suddenly hit me. It was as though I had indeed walked into a glass wall, had smacked up against the realisation that nothing was the same any more. That I was probably dying. Maybe quite soon.

But I still went to every chemo session reciting to myself, ‘Chemo is my loving healer. It destroys all cancer in my body, and nothing else. I am healthy, fit, happy and healed.’ And I gave my body that message first thing every morning.

At the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not
call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither
movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the
point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only
the dance.

– Four Quartets: TS Eliot

From Dancing With Cancer by Diana Brueton © 2014, published in the UK by John Hunt Publishing.

Cygnus Code: 240314

by Diana Brueton

Looking into the deep azure blue of the Mediterranean, Diana Brueton wondered if she would be granted enough time to write this book. Having just been diagnosed with cancer, her life was turned upside down and she felt as if it had been taken out of her control. How she took back control of her life, wrote her book, and mastered the devastation of cancer, is her story.

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