Friday, 20 July 2018

There is success beyond cancer - by Anjana Nathwani

This week’s blog has been written by Anjana Nathwani, a two time cancer survivor and Business Psychologist. She shares three key aspects to feel and live ‘success’ beyond cancer. 



I was recently privileged to spend a day with Robert Holden and also a day long Happenista Retreat facilitated by Jenny Garrett. The days were within four weeks of each other and in the middle of two family bereavements and busy time with marking University assignments. Life felt challenging as I was moving ahead with my entrepreneurial projects and all of a sudden family and caring responsibilities took over.  

The two events provided an opportunity to renew and reimagine life. Post my second cancer in 2014/2015, my life’s journey has been stimulating and the hunger to feel successful was always playing on my mind. Whilst reading Robert Holden’s Authentic Success I came across an enlightening paragraph:

“True success is about speed and time for reflecting, about pace and patience, about action and inspiration, about now and tomorrow.”

I reflected and asked the best friend within me what does success mean for me at this point in my life. The clarity came at the Happenista Retreat:

“I can apply the wisdom of ‘real’ experience and know that life can be vigorous, privileged and harmonious, and I can give myself permission to follow my dreams.” 

My clients often ask me, is there a magical formula for appreciating and feeling harmonious with life. We all like a magical pill for instant solutions. Though, I have to say that it is a dynamic process and part of everyday life. One has to take care of three key aspects to feel and live ‘success’.  

1.   Physical Intelligence, how do we manage energy. What is our relationship with our body? Do you feel aliveness, is there a constant flow of energy and do you know when to take rest and what nutrition suits you. There is a dearth of literature, research and advice on nutrition, important to explore and know what suits your body and lifestyle.  

I was fortunate to spend a day with Dr Andrew Weil and he said something wonderful to me: “trust your body’s intelligence and listen to what it requires.”  

2.   Emotional Intelligence, this is the relationship with one’s own heart. Emotions have always intrigued psychologists and in the past two decades, psychologists have intensively studied happiness and recently economists and neuroscientists have also joined the party. Psychologist Ed Diener’s research shows that the frequency of positive experiences is a much better predictor of happiness than is the intensity of positive experiences. It is the small stuff that creates lasting happiness. What are the trivia things that create joy? I was recently asked this question and my response was Andre Rieu’s music and watching roses bloom in my garden. In the quest of making big happy things happen, the small things are forgotten! It is important to know what the small joy giving moments are.

3.   Resilience Intelligence, there is a lot of buzz on resilience and I have chosen to call it intelligence. We go through life and the memory of how we overcome tough times is subdued or forgotten. Martin Seligman, the Positive Psychology pioneer says that to ‘build resilience,’ talking to oneself is a good intervention.  Challenging the low energy or down beat thinking with high energy and positive outlook can retrain the brain. During both my cancers, I have found three mental routines that helped to build and sustain resilience.  
·     Living with purpose and intent, giving my life a meaning and ensuring that each day has a success factor.
·     Life loves me exercise as designed by Louise Hay and Robert Holden.
·     Meditation/mindfulness, a daily 20-30 minute routine. Research in many spheres shows that the brain shifts focus and gets in touch high energy memories and this helps to deal with the stress.

Defining success beyond cancer sets a compass for well-being and life. How success is defined influences the mindset, and most importantly how the everyday journey of life feels. Very often the eagerness of reaching a destination or a goal takes over and the ‘soul fullness’ of life becomes sublime as destination addiction takes over. Inevitably the compass of success is very personal, though there are the core ingredients authenticity, purpose, growth and being present with life.

References:

Harvard Business Review Press Emotional Intelligence Series
Hay House Loveability Robert Holden
Hay House Success Intelligence Robert Holden
Hay House Life Loves Me Louise Hay and Robert Holden
Hutchinson IKIGAI Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Anjana Nathwani believes that cancer is a pause that can be nurtured to find purpose in life. She is a Business Psychologist who mentors cancer patients and thrivers on careers and lifestyle and well being. She also specialises in employee engagement in relation to well being and inclusive cultures. 

anjana.nathwani@athena-business.com

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Breast cancer and Integrative Medicine in the UK: Top 6 complementary therapies available on the NHS - by Sara Davenport


This week’s blog post has been written by Sara Davenport, founder of Breast Cancer Haven and holistic health blogger of ReBoot Health. Sara shares 6 top complementary therapies available on the NHS for people with breast cancer…

Twenty years ago, I set up what is now one of the UK’s leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. Today it has six centres across the country - in London, Leeds, Hereford, Hampshire, Solihull and Worcester. It offers support - counselling, nutrition, information and complementary therapies - to anyone affected by breast cancer, free of charge.

The Haven epitomises the successful working of integrative medicine - a partnership of complementary therapies and conventional approaches working hand in hand. In its early days, whilst hospital treatment focused on surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, The Haven had one of the widest ranges of therapies on offer under one roof anywhere in the world. Today, things have moved on and across the UK hospital oncology units and CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) are working together to benefit patients with all types of cancer.

In the topsy-turvey frightening months that follow a breast cancer diagnosis, complementary therapies have been shown, in research studies and in practise, time and time again, to make a quantifiable difference to the side effects of conventional medical treatment and to the quality of life of the people who used them alongside those treatments. The Haven Programme has repeatedly been described as ‘life-changing’ by the tens of thousands of people who have benefited from the charity’s work. Without it, people felt their recovery would have been infinitely harder.

I am a fervent believer in the power of combining both approaches following any diagnosis of breast cancer. The hospitals and oncologists have a range of medical approaches on offer - drugs, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to address the cancer - but there is a world of gentler, kinder yet still effective options that can also play a part in your healing and make a substantial difference to your recovery.

Complementary therapy can support you physically, mentally and emotionally during what is often a difficult journey. The importance of feeling you are playing a part in your own recovery cannot be understated, replacing the debilitating feeling of powerlessness that is often reported when you hand over all control to the hospital.

Many breast cancer units now offer some or all of the following therapies as part of their protocol:

Counselling

Releasing emotional stress is an important part of your healing and one that people often under-rate. You may be offered a series of sessions with your hospitals counsellor or psychotherapist and I would encourage you to take up the offer. I have so often heard people say that they don’t feel ‘counselling’ is for them, but the breast cancer path can often be a lonely one.

Your family and those closest to you are often in shock themselves, perhaps feeling powerless about what to do and what to say to best support you. They want you to be ‘OK’ as you go through treatment, when ‘OK’ is the last thing in the world you may be feeling. You may as a result, not feel you can show your true feelings, that you have to pretend to be fine to re-assure them, when inside the fear and the grief are often overwhelming and you are anything but.

Having someone to talk to who understands what you are going through and with whom you can safely and fully express your feelings can be life-changing - and, vitally, help you to feel less alone. Breast cancer brings many difficulties with it and can strike cruelly and directly at the heart of your femininity - the removal of a breast, the resulting scarring, the loss of your hair and the effects of the drugs on your libido are hard to deal with whatever the circumstances, but even harder alone.

Nutrition

Make cleaning up your diet a priority as you go through treatment. Many hospitals offer consultations where a trained nutritionist will go through your eating habits with you, recommending changes alongside a programme of specific supplements to take that will help your body to stay strong and boost your immune system to work more effectively.

Immunotherapy

The latest cutting-edge cancer treatment – works with the immune system to boost its abilities to destroy your cancer cells. Cutting out certain foods, and replacing them with others has also been shown to minimise the unwelcome side effects of many of the prescribed drugs, reducing hot flushes, muscle and bone aches and rashes.

Acupuncture 

Has been shown to help breast cancer patients with the side effects of chemo, radio, surgery, hormonal drug treatments, reducing hot flushes, night sweats rashes and the intensity of muscle and bone aches.  It helps with tiredness, vomiting and feelings of nausea. You may be offered one to one acupuncture sessions, or ear acupuncture in a group.

Reflexology

Reflexology is based on the idea that stimulating specific points on your feet can improve the functioning of corresponding organs, glands, and other body parts. A recent study has found that reflexology helped ease some side effects from chemotherapy and hormonal therapy treatments in women being treated for metastatic breast cancer. In particular it eased shortness of breath which is sometimes a side effect of the treatment for breast cancer.

Massage

Aromatherapy massage, using specially chosen essential oils, combines the healing power of touch with specially chosen scented essential oils that have been shown to trigger deep emotional release, and change and boost your moods. If you are currently having chemotherapy, however, you may become highly sensitive to scents and smells so if possible delay any appointments until after your treatment has finished.

Hospitals also offer sessions with specialist oncology massage therapists, who are highly experienced and understand exactly what is needed after surgery and cancer treatment. If you have had lymph nodes removed there is a risk of developing lymphoedema, so look for a therapist who understands the lymphatic system and knows how to drain excess fluid away from the affected arm and breast area. 

You can follow Sara's fantastic blog, ReBoot Health, here.