Twelve Important Core Lessons I Have Learned
1. It is okay to cry.
2. Healing is a process and a journey of self and spiritual discovery.
3. Healing my physical body of breast cancer is just one third of the healing process; my mind and spirit need healing too.
4. I have to address my fears, they can’t be ignored. When fears show up in my life, I know they have specific lessons to teach me, to show me something greater within myself or in my life than the fear.
5. I could not have healed without the people in my life, the medical teams, work teams, and my family and friends and community members. I share these thoughts with you as an invitation to explore your fears and to become empowered and strengthened as a result of working with teams of individuals that care about your well-being.
6. Laughter, proper nutrition, proper breathing, and sound sleep are vital for my body to heal.
7. Being grateful for everything and everyone in my life always moves me another step forward in my healing journey.
8. I am not complete in my healing cycles until I can give freely and compassionately to others along the way.
9. Even in the death processes, special healing can occur.
10. The first step begins with honesty and asking myself if I am willing to be part of the solution and asking for help on the days that I need an extra hand, an extra hug, or a caring voice to hear my pain, or a good cry, and when I know I need others to teach me the way forward.
11. The power of prayer and the power of my faith are my greatest resources.
12. I am enough just as I am.
I Could No Longer Feel the Lump in My Breast
Two days later after The Journey Intensive weekend, I could no longer feel my lump in my breast. My next mammogram confirmed it had gone… I feel the Journey saved my life.
The Journey Became an Integral Part of the Completion of My Healing
The essence of truth sits at the edge of every story and the story is what connects us and allows us to help each other to heal – and to find freedom.
I could not believe what I was being told. There was no doubt in my mind – until this moment – that it wasn’t cancer. The surgeon went on to tell me when my surgery would take place and all I could hear was someone in the far distance talking, saying things I couldn’t hear because my heart was beating so loudly in my ears.
I lay down on the operating table seemingly without choice and allowed a piece of me to be carved from my body. Afterwards, numb, staring at the stitches that held my breast together, my eyes stung with tears at the full realization of how weak and violated I felt.
My perfect breasts had been reduced to less than perfect. I was full of doubt. Had surgery been the right choice? Had it been my decision? I hated how my breast looked; it didn’t feel like a part of me anymore. Worse, I hated how I felt and hated that I didn’t have a clue how to not feel this way.
My husband’s friend told me breast cancer on the right side meant anger and resentment. Who was he to tell me that and what did he mean? He couldn’t have known how anger lived at the center of my being; the demon inside I tried so hard to keep secret. It lashed out at my husband and it kept me constantly irritable.
It was a hot Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer and I lay in bed crying – waiting for the doom of chemotherapy and radiation. Fear at the thought of these treatments sucked the energy from me and terrorized my mind. I didn’t want to be sick… to lose my hair… to have poison injected into my veins. I was terrified it would kill me and I didn’t know what to do. The phone rang. It was a friend of a friendwho had undergone natural therapy for something similar. She talked of alternative therapies and told me to get passionate about life. I honestly didn’t know how to get passionate about life but I did know I wanted to live! Relief spread through my body at the realization that I could make choices to help myself. I hung up the phone, bound out of bed, and headed straight to the organic farm for some fresh vegetables to juice.
Mainstream or alternative, a decision had to be made. Sitting alone in our family room – engulfed by mind numbing indecision – fear pulled at my insides. How do I decide what to do? What if I make the wrong choice? There was a subtle recognition that my body felt strong when I thought of alternative therapies but weak when I thought of chemo and radiation. And a strange inner knowing came over me that if I listened to my body it would guide me. It felt right. I felt that trusting my body’s wisdom could be the best thing that I ever did. That is the decision I made; to build my immune system instead of destroying it. I struggled initially to find someone willing to help me in my condition but I remained determined. Eventually I did find a naturopath to work with and I also discovered some other healing options that resonated with me. I found my healing path!
Through cancer I learned how to live in my body and how to trust my body’s wisdom. I also learned how to love myself and how to live an authentic life. Exhaustion was a constant companion as I finished my treatments (high doses of Vitamin C dripping into my veins by intravenous). And knowing I was going back to work in a couple of months didn’t help any and caused me a great deal of anxiety. The truth was I hadn’t liked my job for a good many mainyears. After reading a few books on the law of attraction I began to realize that maybe I could have the life I always wanted. Although, in truth, I didn’t have a clue what that life would be like because I hadn’t dreamed or wished for anything in such a long time. I decided to quit my job. I didn’t know if it was the right decision but it was my decision.
Doubt came visiting again, and with it depression. Was I really healed? Many days I just sat and did nothing while my mind raced with thoughts of all the things I should be doing. Some days I cried but mostly I just sat feeling nothing; trying desperately to feel something… anything. I was so empty inside. Friends called almost daily but I felt utter loneliness. Then the rage came. It started to erupt through my body like a volcano and I couldn’t keep the lid on. I felt like I was losing my mind. My body would shake violently as a huge energy would surge up through me. I was completely out of control and after each of these episodes, I would cry, feeling lost, confused and ashamed.
After some weeks the force of this rage seemed to lessen in intensity and I just surrendered to it. I would sit and stare into space, arms limp at my sides, not saying or doing anything. I didn’t even answer the phone. I gave up the fight. One day I woke up feeling good. Nothing had changed, I just felt happy. The feeling stayed and every morning I woke up ready to face the day. I started going for long walks and would imagine how I wanted my life to be and how I wanted to feel. I didn’t know how or why this shift had happened but I was ready to begin to live my life, not just exist in it.
It was in this state of openness and inquiry that I heard about a book called The Journey by Brandon Bays. I was listening to a tele-seminar over the internet about cellular healing and the story of a woman -Brandon- who had healed herself from a serious illness. I had to know more and immediately picked up her book.
Her story, in so many ways, mirrored my own. She told of the huge energy that shook through her body and, how it was through the opening and surrender to these powerful emotions that she found release and healing. It touched me at my core. My experience over the last year and a half had been exactly this. She went on to say that this emotional journey of healing was available to everyone and could be undertaken in a matter of hours through guided processes that had been developed. I eagerly awaited my first Journey Intensive workshop and was not disappointed. It was to be the first step on my path to becoming a Journey practitioner.
Through my Journey work, I learned how my time of torment and grief helped heal my body. The fear and doubts were scary because I thought they were the illness. In my Journey processes I discovered how to open to these emotions and to welcome them as a part of who I am and, in that, to find my own forgiveness and release. I have been able to release the rage that was exploding to get out and today I wake up happy and free from the chains that kept me bound in my life.
The Journey became an integral part of the completion of my healing and I no longer have any doubt that I am completely healed. I have turned toward growth and today find myself living from a level of authenticity that I could only have imagined before. And I have the tools to look inside myself for even deeper awareness.
It is through The Journey that I have also discovered my life’s purpose: to share my story and Journey work so that I can spread healing and hope to others. I have learned to love all parts of me, my slightly smaller breast, my scar, my anger, my fears, and I have been able to embrace the feeling of love I have for myself. It isn’t selfish or arrogant to love oneself, it is imperative. It is my deepest prayer that we all find the freedom and healing available to all of us and can live from this amazing place of awareness. Through cancer I learned how to live in my body and how to trust my body’s wisdom. I also learned how to love myself and how to live an authentic life. I am grateful everyday for the learning that continues to unfold.
My Transformational Journey from a Breast Cancer Survivor Into a Thriver
In the fall of 2005, as the date of an impending elective surgery to remove my ovaries slowly neared, I acquired a severe case of hives ALL OVER my body. Not just ordinary run of the mill hives, but loud hives, flaming hives, out-of-control burning hives. My doctor followed the traditional western model for helping me by first prescribing steroid cream, which was only marginally effective. Next, she upped the ante by giving me oral steroids for eight days, which seemed to calm the symptoms. Once off the drug however, the hives returned with a vengeance, and my doctor resorted to injecting my rump with a brutally painful steroid shot that temporarily solved the problem, this time for about two weeks. Shortly thereafter, the hives reappeared, seemingly victorious against the steroidal invasion.
In the midst of this battle, feeling extremely frustrated with the vicious cycle of hives and steroids, my ears vibrated as I listened to a CD by Dr. Andrew Weil discussing skin problems. The wise Doc Weil declared that in his experience, skin problems always contain an emotional issue at the core. Thus, he recommended that his patients try to resolve their skin issues with hypnotherapy. Willing to try ANYTHING at this point, I called my doctor and shared Dr. Weil’s advice. Enthusiastically she concurred with Dr. Weil’s idea, which left me wondering why she hadn’t suggested something like this before. My doctor gave me the name of a hypnotherapist and two days later I arrived for the appointment.
A graceful (grace-full!) woman greeted me warmly and explained that she was a certified hypnotherapist, but that she had found an even more effective modality called “The Journey” . She asked if I might be interested in trying a Journey process instead of hypnotherapy. Little did I know then that my “YES” reply was not only a response to her question, “YES” was also the answer to a whole new direction in my life and more importantly to LIFE itself. “YES!!!!” my body, mind, and spirit shouted. “YES! YES! YES!”
I learned the true source of my symptoms: RAGE!! One Journey session quelled the screaming hives and by the end of the week, after two more sessions, my hives disappeared FOREVER! More significantly than that – and believe me, the significance of being hive-free cannot be understated – I learned the true source of my symptoms: RAGE!!
At the (much too young) age of 33, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and underwent a modified radical mastectomy with a TRAM flap reconstruction. Reconstruction is actually a bit of a misnomer; my entire being felt utterly violated! Yet as I coped with the difficulties that go along with cancer diagnosis and traditional medical treatment, outwardly I projected a calm and courageous veneer, while unbeknownst to me, deep in the interior of my soul, I was seething with rage. Still, my optimistic nature carried me through the rough spots and covered up my deeper emotions and after five years my oncologist declared that I was cured! (Yep, he actually used the “cure” word). On top of that fabulous news I became pregnant with my first child at the ripe (almost too old) age of 38. Life seemed to be back on track and full of blessings.
Three speedy years later at my 16th routine oncology check up, and only several days after deciding to try for one more child at age 41 (definitely pushing the envelope for conceiving, but what did I care, I simply adored being a Mom!), I again received a diagnosis of a new primary breast cancer in my other breast. This time the news shattered my world! Not only was the cancer more invasive than the first one, but more importantly I was a Mommy! I was a Mommy!!!! I felt like an enormous tornado had swept me up and just tossed me asunder. I couldn’t breathe or think or sleep. My whole world spun out of control. Though my psychological/spiritual toolbox contained many appropriate tools, I couldn’t even manage to locate it, much less open it. At the time, I had no clue that what was really transpiring in the depths of my being was an ominous, explosive rage trying to make its way into my consciousness. My extreme anxiety was a huge cover up job. I had no reference point for feeling rage much less expressing it; no women in my family or community raged (or so it appeared!). The only women that I had observed rage were labeled bitches by the world. Oh no, raging was not an option and so with all my might I kept it hidden and the energy this choice required created unbelievable fear and fatigue. My oncologist put me on an anti-depressant which abated the power of the rage and dissipated the fear. My school district gave me a year leave-of-absence and I managed to make it through three more surgeries, chemotherapy, and mothering a three-year-old.
Cancer was merely a physical process of cells running amok. It was not a personal attack after all. I understood that my experiences weren’t about good vs. evil or any other misconceptions I harbored A year later, as I faced the hive-causing ovary surgery, I realized that my body had done me a tremendous favor by bringing my buried rage to the surface. The hives raged in unison with my soul! After healing from the hives and going through several additional Journey processes with my hypnotherapist/journey practitioner, I attended my first Journey Intensive where I received two more processes, learned how and why they work, practiced how to give them, and discovered how to truly forgive. That weekend the physical Journey process I went through turned out to be the key to unlocking all that I had buried so deep inside. In that process, I sat at a campfire with Cancer. Cancer showed up as a large, pink, blobby mass covered with mouths all over. I spoke first and painfully emptied out a myriad range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings about having undergone cancer treatment twice, inheriting the BRCA 2 gene, watching cancer eat away my father’s face and then his life force, discovering how cancer had maimed my grandmother, and witnessing cancer kill two aunts, an uncle, my favorite cousin, and several friends. At the campfire, I really let Cancer have it with both barrels. I cussed, I sobbed, I stomped my feet, I raged, I grieved, I pleaded, and I moaned “why?” until finally, I was empty. Then Cancer had its turn to reply. It simply responded, “That’s what I do. I eat things. I’m an overactive cell that eats things, reproduces more cells and keeps eating things.” That was all! This response left me stunned and pierced through all the torrid emotions, leaving me in a strangely peaceful state of being. In that moment I realized that I had unwittingly given cancer a sinister personality with malevolent intentions. This realization enabled me to begin a process of unhooking from the drama I had created around cancer. Cancer was merely a physical process of cells running amok. It was not a personal attack after all. I understood that my experiences weren’t about good vs. evil or any other misconceptions I harbored, and that I had openly given my power away to an accursed phantom. After that Journey Intensive, the question of “why?” began slipping from my vocabulary, being replaced with the invitation, “Tell me more. What would you like me to learn?”
As alarming as it might sound to WILLINGLY spend time cussing, sobbing, stomping my feet, raging, grieving, pleading, and moaning, I LOVE doing Journey processes because they are enormously creative, deeply empowering, and truly transformative. The Journey has given me unbelievable gifts! I have learned how to access and express all my emotions (some that I didn’t even know I had). By opening up a wide, expansive door to my soul, The Journey has enabled me to look deeply, see, and embrace “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in all parts of myself. During Journey processes I have uncovered numerous blocks (illusions, miscon
It’s Not About the Tumour…My Journey Home
My name is Jean Brazeau and I am a seven year breast cancer survivor. I am a survivor of brain and spinal cord tumors. I am also a survivor of violent physical, emotional, and sexual childhood abuse that had left me filled with fear, shame, anger, self hatred, guilt, and an endless number of self limiting beliefs about who I was in the world.
My life as I knew it started crumbling around me on March 11, 2000 when my oldest sister died unexpectedly. My strength to go on with my life as it was came from a daily dose of Wellbutrin.
Eleven months later, a routine mammogram revealed that I had breast cancer. At this moment in time, from somewhere deep within me, I knew this diagnosis would somehow free me from the life I was living which was not providing me with personal fulfillment or joy. Because I believed I had no control over cancer and because I had spent my entire life looking outside of myself to cope with the challenges of living and surviving, I numbly and mindlessly turned my body over to the medical community with the hopes that soon I would be having an opportunity for a new beginning to my life. As customary I parked the emotions somewhere deep inside where I would not have to face or feel them.
Motivational tapes in hand, I engaged in daily physical exercise and healthier eating habits, I ran for the cause, offered advise to others and was cited by the medical community as a model example of how to deal with cancer positively. As my treatment that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation progressed, the battle became more difficult. The side effects of treatment took me to a new low and another anti-depressant was added to my repertoire to off-set the effects of the chemotherapy-induced menopause.
I vividly recall 9/11/2001, the day terrorists attacked America and the Twin Towers. The day started as any another day in my life which was then being defined by the cancer. Having just completed my final chemotherapy treatment, I sat in the family room glued to the television. The effects of chemotherapy and menopause were taking their toll. I was bloated, bald, weary to the bone, alone, afraid and seriously depressed. The world trauma of 9/11 added to my personally deep fears of what was going on in my life. Both my outer world and my personal world were falling apart, and it felt as though the world was coming to an end. I could feel myself slipping deeper into that black hole of depression and despair.
I was unable any longer to hide behind makeup and highlights or the shell that I had created and believed was me. I attempted to look inward and tried to convince myself I liked what I saw. In retrospect I realize looking inward for me was very superficial as I had no idea how to go very deep, nor did I have any idea of who I was. For the next two years, life presented me with more countless painful experiences including the deaths of my best friend’s son, my brother-in-law, my step-father and my mother. It didn’t seem to matter which corner I turned, there was always a hammer waiting to come down and validate my belief that life was hard. It was just nineteen months after completing treatment for breast cancer,another devastating blow came. A series of routine tests ordered by my oncologist uncovered “something unknown” in my brain and spinal cord. It was five short days after my mother’s memorial service at a long awaited appointment with the NeuroSurgeon when he spoke the words of possible outcomes of “paraplegic”, “irreversible damage”, and “prioritized spinal cord surgery”. Words that left me more in shock than I can ever verbalize.
But it was also in that moment that my new future became very clear to me, a future filled with a cycle of serious illnesses, more drugs to offset side affects, paralysis, death. It was on this day I got very angry and made a declaration of Enough already! No Way! No More! Somewhere deep inside I knew this was not how life was supposed to be. A series of synchronistic events followed this proclamation that introduced me to a totally new life paradigm. This paradigm invited me to explore different alternative and complementary healing modalities and offered a completely new and empowering perspective on the root of illness. Every cell in my being knew truth was being spoken when first exposed to the scientifically based teaching that the root of dis-ease, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, is repressed emotional trauma at the cellular level. This level of healing had not been explained to me by any of my medical team and certainly was BIG news to me!
I certainly had to acknowledge that I had life-long repressed emotions. I had lived a life that included breast cancer, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, severe migraines, allergies so bad I would vomit on a moment’s notice, a back so wracked with pain I could hardly walk, a brain tumor, spinal cord tumor, a diagnosis of depression, disassociate disorder and post traumatic stress disorder all of which threatened my very livelihood…WHEW !! That was a heavy load to carry.
Thus began my personal healing journey. I was spiritually dead, emotionally exhausted and my body was consumed with pain when I was guided to “The Journey”. The Journey is both a book and a set of processes that Brandon Bays created after healing herself of a basketball sized tumor in 6½ weeks without chemotherapy, surgery, or pharmaceuticals. Since my initial introduction to the work of “The Journey”, it has now became an integral part of my own personal healing, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It provided me with the love, safety, support and tools I needed to venture inward and to reclaim myself.
Over the course of the next year and a half while completing “The Journey” Accreditation Program, I bore witness to the most incredible metamorphosis taking place inside of me as I learned to shed the pain, grief, sadness, guilt, fear and anger that was ravishing my body, mind and spirit.
There is so much less of me here now, less ego, less anger, less fear, less envy, less desire, less attachment. At the same time there is so much more of me, more love, more joy, more compassion, more inner peace, more Gratitude.
In retrospect I realize I never knew who I was, I never even gave it a thought. I know who I am now, I stand proudly and comfortably in my own skin and everything about my life has changed. I am independent now, after having spent my whole life dependent on others, introspective after having spent my life analyzing others. Loving and compassionate in a way that no longer enables others in their self destructive behaviors. The worry which consumed my every thought in the past is gone and replaced with a great faith and knowing that all things will unfold exactly as they should….and it’s all good! My health is great and I have more energy than I have had in a very long time. I am now unwilling to ingest anything that interferes with the flow of my energy or inhibits my ability to feel alive. The use of all prescription medication including those intended to minimize the recurrence of cancer fell away quite naturally at the onset of my personal journey into this complementary and alternative field. Around every corner is a new exciting adventure waiting for me. For the most part, life has become easy, effortless and so much more fun. There is no longer any question in my mind, we truly can and do affect our own experiences, What a blast!
I have also come to know for sure we are not the “labels” allopathic medicine has given us, we are not our illness or dis-ease. They are simply our bodies way of communicating with us. It is time for us to get still, go inside, start listening to what our bodies are trying so desperately to tell us. This is where true healing really begins.