The time I call “post-surgery” is the time for healing after the surgery. Depending on the individual and the seriousness of the operation, it takes four to six weeks to recover. Recovery, in this case, means the time before going to the next step of the recommended treatment.
Increasing levels of anxiety, fear of the unknown and physical pain mark this four to six-week period. We are surrounded by friends and family discussing what we should do. So many well-wishers tell us about what they have heard from others.
So many directions we can take: “We can go on this wonderful diet someone applied and cured herself of cancer! We can look for an alternative therapy another took and won the battle with cancer!” The friends and family usually “know for sure” that theirs is the best option to follow. And we also check the internet and do our own research! All of this results in loads of unverified information flying around us. This information overload and the pressure we feel from our well-wishers leave us confused. What to do?
Finally, I went to my first appointment with the oncologist. Now we enter into another stage of the cancer journey – dealing with long-term treatments. In my case, it was a prestigious hospital in Toronto that somehow evoked deep respect for the opinion I was about to hear. After the examinations, we discussed the options. I was told that the cancer was aggressive and needed to be treated aggressively with eight sessions of chemotherapy, plus 30 days of radiation and 12 months of another adjuvant chemotherapy.
I asked my oncologist how he had come to this conclusion. He said, “I have a computer program where I enter the data from your pathology and it tells me what is the best treatment.” I did not comment. We left and the family member accompanying me, who happened to be a nurse, commented, “Oh boy, they really make you feel completely disempowered!”
That’s exactly how I felt – disempowered, confused, anxious and tired of this ordeal. So now what to do? The time of decision came and yet I wasn’t clear on the right thing to do and felt pressure from every direction.
Yoga became my refuge over these four to six weeks. I meditated at least three times a day for 30 minutes to reset my mind. I chanted 45 minutes first thing in the morning to set my day right. I couldn’t do asanas, but I could maintain my pranayama practice. I also slowed down and became aware of my own body and what was happening to it. I slowly started to live in a more relaxed state. As time passed, I was regaining the connection to my own centre. The access to peace of mind became easier and stayed longer.
Although the confusion decreased, I still didn’t know what to do or which therapy to choose. However, each time I accessed my centre in meditation, I felt an idea growing to do the traditional allopathic cancer treatment. I didn’t know where it was coming from and why it felt important to work with the oncologist on my healing. But my practice of yoga helped me to find my way. Despite the feeling of confusion, I was able to connect to my inner centre, and I decided to follow it.
Today, I feel grateful for my yoga practice and for that decision. I didn’t exactly know why it was important, but I followed my intuition anyway. Now I understand why. I would not have been able to stand in my power and help others had I not followed my inner voice.
This is what yoga therapy can do – through meditation, help patients to slow down and speed up the healing. Through asanas, rebuild the connection with the body. Through pranayama, decrease the fear, anxiety and stress of having to make the decision. Help find our own centre to deal with our immediate surroundings and understand that our friends and family are much impacted by our journey and mean well, despite their adding to our confusion.