A “Gift of Healing” Journey

A “Gift of Healing” Journey

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

A “Gift of Healing” Journey

No journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.

Lillian Smith

Little did I know that following my breast-cancer diagnosis in June 1989 that I would go on a fantastic, life-enhancing, healing journey. It’s hard to believe that cancer can be a gift in a person’s life. It is in mine, although it didn’t happen right away. I had all the shock and fears, and I was so afraid that I couldn’t even pray for myself, but I reached out to everyone whom I thought could help me.

My first call was to Reach to Recovery with the American Cancer Society. Next, I called Mitz Aoki, a professor at the University of Hawaii, who ministered to those with life-threatening illnesses. Through prayer and guided imagery, he turned my focus away from fear and into looking into our Lord’s face to see peace within me— and see myself healing.

I created a team of loving people and a healing environment around me—medically, spiritually, emotionally and physically. In his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, Bernie Siegel calls people like me “exceptional cancer patients.” He says we can’t only rely on doctors to help us; we play a major part in our healing. I began to feel I could be in control of my life again—a feeling I had lost.

I also started to journal. I wrote down all the scary stuff, the frustrations, the mountain-top and valley experiences. It meant so much to me to reread it later—to see where I had been and how far I had come.

I found a cancer support group at a local church led by a woman who was recovering from breast cancer. She, too, used guided imagery that she had composed and shared. She took us, in our imaginations, to places where we could feel comfortable, peaceful and safe—on a beach chair by the ocean, a flowering garden, beside a gentle, trickling stream. We were relaxed, refreshed and restored.

The cancer support group became a part of my life, and our leader asked me to take over the group when her breast cancer recurred. Creating my own meditations and prayers, and ministering to my brothers and sisters, was where I wanted and needed to be. At that point I realized my healing journey had become a “gift” to me. I had my eyes open for other ways to share my “gift” on my healing journey.

In 1996, I took a class on energy centers of the body that was offered for interested volunteers at Queen’s Medical Center. It is called Healing Touch as it is a hands-on type of complementary medicine, and I asked to volunteer in the radiation therapy department so I could be there for cancer patients. I see the patients in the waiting room, their faces full of concern, and I invite them to have Healing Touch in a room where we have a bed set aside. I play soft music and pray silently or aloud, whichever the person prefers. I show how to relax body and mind, and by placing my hand over the energy centers, bring mind, body and spirit back into peace, harmony and wellness.

I began to introduce guided imagery into our sessions when several patients wished they could have a private cassette tape of our sessions. I asked them in their imaginations to go to a special place of their own, using all their senses, and describe the scene to me. I would write down all their words. The tape began with relaxation, and then I would repeat back to them the thoughts and the scene they had chosen, along with reinforcing, healing words. Their faces were peaceful, sometimes with a gentle smile. One patient went to her favorite childhood park to swing higher and higher; another went to a vacation on the beach in Bali with warm tradewinds; another went hang-gliding over Makapuu Beach, soaring for two hours. They were really there, no doubt in my mind. Energetic, but peaceful, they experienced a sense of well-being that the body acknowledged and responded with healing.

I became a participant in the bosom buddies program under Healing Touch about four years ago. We adopt a breast-cancer patient and serve her for six months in any way we can. I have had four bosom buddies, and my first was an exceptional cancer patient. She always had a notebook with her at our sessions. She said she was an author and wanted to write a book. I’m sure she has.

My latest quest has been to create and record a CD of relaxation and guided imagery for all patients in our department and any other hospital patient who wants one. Our patients are well on their way into their healing journey as we provide them with healing tools to help themselves—a respite in times of need.

We are here on Earth to love and take care of each other, and I’m deeply honored to share my “gift of healing” wherever I can. I am truly blessed.

Betsy Ludwig

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