Diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer on 1/6/14 including two tumors (one about 4cm) in her breast as well as in lymph nodes, Barb underwent chemo (4 different drugs) and then surgery. Post surgical results on 7/1/14 found a complete response and no sign of cancer. While Barb believes these treatments contributed to healing, she doesn’t believe they explain her complete response as it was was fairly extreme and according to doctors fairly unusual.
Barb believes her healing was due in part creating and maintaining a positive attitude and in addressing a spiritual void in her life. She set ground rules of not becoming a victim and not creating drama. She stayed active physically and worked every day. Work gave her purpose and meaning.
Spiritual Growth was very important to Barb through this time. By chance she was landed in the Amazon only a week after her diagnosis and the indigenous tribe there gifted her with spiritual guidance. During a ceremony in the Amazon, She let go of past pain and anger, anguish and resentment, in a way that she had never done. Barb found herself letting go of emotions so fully that she was at peace like never before. After the ceremony, Barb felt only love and gratitude and a remarkable sense of peace and calm. After returning home she meditated and practiced qigong to build a spiritual practice. She felt and meditated on gratitude and felt it so deeply everyday. That transformed her treatment months into a sacred time. Rather than suffering, Barb found herself feeling whole and grateful.
While Barb had a good diet before diagnosis, it was supplemented by daily servings of fresh green juice.
Barb continues to build her meditation practice and has added a regular compassion practice (known as Loving-kindness or metta in Buddhism) and attends meditation retreats as her work schedule allows. Additionally, Barb still maintains a very healthy diet – high in whole, organic vegetables and low in sugar – and remains physically and intellectually active. Barb would also note that she continues to expand upon the pain management techniques she started learning with her treatment – mainly the double mastectomy where she chose not to have any pain meds (during or after surgery). She had practiced those techniques with the chemo and didn’t need the pain meds during recovery from surgery…with the exception of the two Tylenol she took when she got back on her bike 2 weeks after the surgery (yes, with her Dr’s approval). She has had a couple of injuries since (normal sports stuff) and has weathered them more easily due to what she learned. Barb continues to learn more about this and how to apply it to different situations for both physical and emotional pain.
Barb continues to live as much as possible: rock climbing, traveling, learning new skills. She has little patience for putting things off or making excuses. If there’s something/somewhere that draws her interest, Barb takes action and pursues it. Barb has also served as a mentor to several other breast cancer patients and found additional growth and learning through those experiences.
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