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Using Imagery to Get thru Radiation, Chemo, Surgery & More…

18 Sep

Elizabeth just got this thank you note and update from one of the inspired folks she got to know over the phone. We're posting it here to show the range of uses one clever, generous and inventive oncology patient can get out of guided imagery and other mind-body techniques. Her use of ritual and opting to wish others well on the chemo unit – well, it's very heart-warming and inspiring. Check it out.

Here's the note, edited down just a bit for size:

Howdy, E !

I am finished with radiation & feeling a bit like Hiroshima. I am at the 10 month date for treatment & I can't tell you how much your support has been, literally, a Godsend.

9207bOn the drive to the Clinic, I listen to the affirmations from the Immune System imagery, which ends when I arrive at the parking lot! Before the drug infusion I do a Reiki blessing on the bag(s) & give a lecture to the drug(s) to shrink the tumor (it did shrink by 50%) & capture & eliminate any rogue cells. I get the Herceptin alone until mid December.

Once hooked up, I follow with the Chemo guided imagery which relaxes me & puts me in the perfect zone for the drug to do its work. I've seen such a wonderful gamut of allies from my dear father to my great aunt Lulu, who was a drum majorette & a hands-on healer.

I then listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn's Lovingkindness Meditation & do a Reiki blessing on the other chemo patients. Over the months I've incorporated the guided imagery from Anger & Forgiveness & Immune System plus Arthritis since the Herceptin causes muscle & joint pain.

My husband was very grateful for the Caretaker Stress CD. He said every word was relevant to him. When I do Reiki sessions on him he finds listening to the Anger & Forgiveness imagery on target and helpful in dealing with how he's felt towards God & others' reactions or lack thereof to our situation.

Successful Surgery definitely helped me keep a positive mindset about having a mastectomy & making the decision to have a reconstructive surgeon supervising the procedure. I know it's also why I have been so accepting of having my nipple removed.

I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for radiation, but the Radiation CD guided me along the way. During treatment I said a childhood prayer, Angel of God, and imagined Michael the Archangel using his sword to stop any radiation from reaching areas that didn't need it. I did eventually make peace with the machine, which I first saw as a monster & then converted that image to a cuddly plushy, created to save lives, and had it actually hugging me & loving me up!

Am sending along a photo of my Mom & myself. Hattie's major statement has been: "This is not making you stronger. It's making you tap into that strength you already have from all the women who came before you."

I think of all my ancestral women went through & survived: pogroms, the Cossacks, fleeing to Poland, then through Europe, across the Atlantic to Ellis Island & on to Milwaukee. She has me imagine I'm in her arms & she's hugging & kissing me & telling me she loves me. She & I have come a long way from our tumultuous days!

I'm pooped!!!!!

Please send Belleruth my regards and gratitude.

Fondly,

Mary

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.