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Learning to Cope as a Caregiver by Cameron Von St. James November 19, 2012

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Many thanks to Cameron for sharing his story.  Enjoy:

 

My wife still occasionally wonders how I got by after her cancer diagnosis. I haven’t spoken to her about it but once, but I’d like to reveal more about my experiences now, both for her understanding and for the benefit of all those currently battling cancer, in the hopes that they might take something away from our experience.

Only a few short months after our first and only child, Lily was born, our lives were plunged into despair. I still recall with great accuracy the day the doctor told us that my wife had mesothelioma. All I could do was look into her tear-filled eyes and ask myself how we’d get through something like this. I was completely devastated and close to an emotional meltdown. The only thing that kept that from happening was the doctor’s questions about what we wished to do. This was only the first time where my despair would have to take a back seat to helping my wife in her cancer battle.

Right afterward, I was stewing with both rage and fear. At that point, I hadn’t a clue how to control these emotions, and many times, the only way I could express them was through vulgar language and angry outbursts. However, with time, I learned to reign in these out-of-control feelings, especially once I realized that my wife and daughter now depended on me to be their source of strength and optimism. If I succumbed to my fear, who would they be able to count on? From that point on, I did my very best to be a stable source of hope for my family.

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Often times, I was swamped with work. Besides holding a job, I also had to care for our infant daughter, Heather and our pets, as well as make any necessary travel arrangements, medical appointments, etc. It was exhausting at first, but I quickly learned to focus on the things that were most important. Furthermore, I learned to accept the outpouring of assistance from our loving friends and family, which was a lifesaver during this hard time. I still don’t know where we’d be without so many kind and generous people in our lives.

During this time of crisis, there were two months that were especially hard for both myself and my wife. She had just had surgery in Boston and had then flown to South Dakota to stay with her parents, who were also watching our daughter. My wife stayed there to heal and get ready for the next round of treatment, which consisted of chemotherapy and radiation. I only got to see them once within this time.

One Friday evening, I got off of work and immediately drove the 11 hours to South Dakota. Even though there was a snowstorm in progress, I kept going, only stopping to sleep a short while in my car to give the plows time to clear the roads. I was beyond exhausted when I arrived Saturday morning, but I spent it with my wife and daughter before I had to drive back home Sunday afternoon. I still had to be back to work Monday morning.

Even though it was profoundly hard to be separated from my family, I can’t think of it as a loss. Rather, I understand that it was the most reasonable option available. Some of the things I learned from this terrible ordeal were how to graciously accept help and to find peace in the fact that there were tough choices to be made. I learned that these tough choices gave us a small amount of control over a situation that was ultimately beyond our control.  Despite the mostly poor prognosis for mesothelioma patients, Heather is alive and cancer-free over six years later. Hopefully, someone else currently facing difficult battle with cancer can benefit from our story.

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Catching Up and Moving On November 17, 2011

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A great deal has occurred since writing my last blog. My husband lost his battle against a very aggressive form of colon cancer and died, peacefully, on May 26, 2011. He had been able to maintain a very positive and pro active attitude right up to the end. Two days before he died, he had enjoyed a very busy day of visits from our children and other relatives. He had laughed a joked with us and even watched the first period of the hockey game with the kids before sending them off to dinner. The next morning he was unresponsive and the morning after he was gone.
Five months have passed since he died and I am learning to live without him. Initially I was so busy. I had a house move to organize. We had been preparing for the move; had found a new place closer to town – closer to the Cancer Agency and to Hospice – and now I was moving in to it by myself. For the first two months it felt like I was house sitting for someone who had all the same furniture as me.
Then there was all the paperwork and details to contend with. Cremation, wills, insurance forms and death benefit applications. Funeral directors, lawyers, bankers and financial consultants. I was and am very fortunate that I have excellent resources and wonderfully supportive friends and family. Everyone was so incredibly kind and understanding. Even my dentist and hygienist who consoled me when, during my dental examination, I started to cry because one of my husband’s favourite songs started to play on their radio.
Then came time to ‘go through’ things. Sending clothing off to the Salvation Army, donating tools to the automotive shop at the high school, encouraging the kids to take mementos and pictures and all the things their Dad wanted them to have to remember him by. None of it easy. All of it necessary.
To go forward I have developed a strategy for moving through my bereavement. I call it the 3Be’s.
1) Be Mindful:
To think about what I am thinking about. Does it help or hinder my forward movement?
2) Be Present
This is not about anyone else – it’s about how I live MY life – today and every day. What is working now and what needs to change going forward?
3) Be Strategic
Where I am and where I want to be. What can I do – every day- to move forward to my new life.

This process has been very helpful. Yes, I do miss my husband. I miss him every day and I think about him all the time. I’m just starting to think about him with less sadness . I can go for days without crying. I can contemplate my future without fear. Who will I be as I evolve? Not a widow but a woman. Not an object for compassion but a force to be reckoned with. Don’t misunderstand me. I loved being the caterpillar I was but now that this option is no longer available to me I am learning to love the idea of the butterfly I must become. Let the metamorphosis begin!

The Proof is in the Pudding October 14, 2010

Posted by 0ceanside in Affirmations, Cancer Care, Personal growth and development.
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As mentioned in previous blogs, my husband is undergoing chemotherapy for post surgical treatment of a stage 4, signet ring cell carcinoma of the sigmoid bowel. He has had 8 of the 12 bi-weekly cycles of chemo and tolerated the very toxic cocktail amazingly well.

Since the end of June we have spent time every week at our Cancer Clinic for either treatments or dressing changes, and we have had the opportunity to speak with doctors, nurses and patients about their experiences. One thing is very clear to me; those with a positive attitude do much better than those without.

We certainly understand the anxiety, distress, fear and lack of control that goes along with a cancer diagnosis – none better – but we also understand that there are things you can control, and those things can help to mitigate the effects of the rest. Take control of your mind set. Do whatever you can to release negative thoughts and behaviours and encourage any and all positive thoughts and feelings. Do it every day.

One of the things I did for my husband to help support a positive attitude was to make a recording of affirmations specifically to help during his chemotherapy. This recording, which he listens to every night at bed time, confirms his belief in the appropriateness and efficacy of his chemical therapy and the efforts of his entire medical team. It also works to mitigate side effects and support general good health.

And, as it is meant to, it works! He has not had to reduce the dosage or frequency of his treatments. His appetite is good and he sleeps well. He is cheerful and optimistic. He has not missed one of his weekly golf games with his buddies and best of all during a time when things could be so difficult and so stressful between us we have grown even closer, experience deeper intimacy and have learned to appreciate each other so much more than ever before.

We know we’re not out of the woods yet – we still have a long way to go before we can claim a victory, but with a strong positive attitude we know we can get through this and much more.

Because my husband had benefitted so much from his recording I am offering it, for free, to anyone who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Click here for your free, 15 minute MP3 recording.

As a caregiver I know first hand the stress and anxiety we go through trying to support our loved ones who are fighting cancer. The feelings of fear, helplessness and inadequacy are almost overwhelming. You need support too so I am also offering a special affirmation recording for caregivers of cancer patients. Click here for your free, 15 minute MP3 recording.

I would love to hear your feedback and comments on the recordings and, if I can help you manage your stress or other related issues, please don’t hesitate to contact me at brigid@ocenasidehypnotherapy.com.

The Attitude Adjustment June 1, 2010

Posted by 0ceanside in Affirmations, Personal growth and development, Uncategorized.
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For the last 20 years or more I have been trying to get my husband to adopt a more positive attitude. When you would ask him ‘How are you?’, his inevitable answer was ‘Not bad’. To me Not Bad means Not Good and I was always asking him why he insisted on answering that way. This past December he told me that he was going to start making a concerted effort to change his response from ‘Not bad’ to ‘Great Thanks! How are you?’ After about 3 weeks we were talking about this change and he told me that he couldn’t believe the positive response he was getting from the people he interacted with. He said that not only did they reply positively to him, but they seemed to be more positive themselves AND be inspired to give something more of themselves with every interaction he had with them. He told me that almost every time he got twice as much possessiveness back than he gave – he was amazed!

Fast forward five months to the end of April when he gets the diagnosis of colon cancer. His attitude hasn’t changed. If anything he has been relentlessly positive through his pre operative course and surgery. Aside from some nausea and expected localized pain, he managed the post surgical experience very well. Today he astounded his GP with how far he is in his recovery. His diet is back to normal and he is working on increasing his daily activity. We have no idea how the next few months will unfold but for sure his positive attitude is here to stay.

The experience has made us ask some interesting questions though.
Why did he decide to change his attitude this year? Goodness knows I’ve been nagging him for decades about it.
Could his subconscious, knowing that health issues were on the horizon, bring him to the realization that he had to adopt a more positive attitude?
And of course; How can others benefit from his trans formative experience?

Anxiety: Not just for Women Anymore. May 11, 2010

Posted by 0ceanside in hypnosis, Personal growth and development, Uncategorized.
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Although the majority of my clients are business women, I do have a contingent of men who, for the most part, come to see me to resolve non specific anxiety. Anxiety is a normal and appropriate response to stressful situations; changing jobs for instance or asking someone new out on a date. Generalized or non specific anxiety however develops over time, becomes chronic and has been attributed to depression and heart disease in men.

While their symptoms are generally the same as the ones women experience; irritability, insomnia, increasing irrational fear, aggression and relationship tension, many of them feel awkward about seeking help to deal with these life limiting issues and often wait till some sort of crisis has occurred in their professional or personal life before making the call.

Male stereotypes play a large role in mens reluctance to seek assistance. Men are taught early on that they are supposed to be the problem solvers, that they are strong, and that they are not supposed to get emotional or allow things to bother and upset them. Many feel bewildered by overwhelming emotions, uncomfortable that their expectations for themselves are not being met and unhappy that their relationships are suffering. They tell me that they are disappointed that they are not participating in their family lives they way they want to be and are eager to be better men, fathers and husbands.

The relief is overwhelming when they discover that by changing some of their beliefs they can regain control over their emotions, can let go of their fear and re-engage fully in their families again. They enthusiastically embrace the process of making these changes and are excited with the positive results.

If you know a man who is suffering from non specific anxiety, who is having trouble participating fully in his family or work life, whose increasing phobic behaviour is limiting his day to day activities, or who goes from calm to angry easily and for insufficient reason, they could get relief and release from hypnotherapy.

To find out more about how hypnotherapy can help men and women suffering from non specific stress, contact me at brigid@oceansidehypnotherapy.com.

Read and Take Heed. May 5, 2010

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Here is some great advice from David Marshall of Conscious Creation Co in the UK. Read and take heed:

I was thinking the other day about what I wish I had known ten years ago about the law of attraction, energy and healing that would have really helped me. I came up with a few things I wanted to share as you may find them useful:

I wish I had known:

1. That I was right to believe in my ideas..
2. That my journey of spiritual exploration was natural and valid.
3. To trust myself more and to not listen to those who said I was a bit ‘whacky’ and ‘weird’.
4. Not to take it all so seriously.
5. To meditate more and focus into the moment.
6. That making mistakes is OK, I do not have to be perfect.
7. That I do not have to know everything and I never will.
8. That love really is the most powerful thing.
9. To take more action to create the life I want.
10. That being me is the very best thing for me.
11. To explore my beliefs more and the key to success.

I am sure there are more but these came to mind, I hope they are useful to you.
David Marshall

To find out more about David Marshall, and the Law of Attraction,visit his site at : http://www.consciouscreation.co.uk

Diagnosis: Cancer – an Opportunity to Examine your Beliefs. May 2, 2010

Posted by 0ceanside in Affirmations, Personal growth and development, Uncategorized.
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Ok, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer this week. Talk about an opportunity to examine your beliefs! While we have been waiting for test results and surgical consults he has been formulating a plan of belief. He has decided that only positive thoughts will be considered; negative thoughts may pass through his mind, but he is actively, consciously rejecting them.

It’s not that my husband is blasé or is in denial. On the contrary; he knows what he is up against and he is preparing himself for the ordeal ahead (more tests, bowel resection, healing, chemotherapy and close follow up for years to come) His GP, who is also his friend, is very proactive and is monitoring all aspects of his care. His general surgeon is the best available in our area and our Cancer Clinic is one of the best in the country. All this notwithstanding, he knows that maintaining a positive attitude is probably THE most important things he can do to ensure an optimal outcome.

We are using several techniques to help him keep on the optimistic straight and narrow. He uses EFT to transform negative thoughts to positive ones, he has started listening to an MP3 of healing affirmations I recorded for him and we have gratefully accepted all offers of healing thoughts and kind wishes from friends, family and complete strangers.

We will be celebrating my husbands 63rd birthday next Sunday. He may be in surgery, awaiting surgery, or recuperating from surgery; we may have to postpone the cake and champagne; we may have to toast him with clear fluids and lime Jello® in his hospital bed but regardless of where we are in the process, we will definitely be celebrating this very special re ‘birth’ day.

Life or death – your choice? What (and how strongly) do you Believe? April 21, 2010

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My Mum told me a story once about a time in the mid 30’s when she and my Dad lived in the isolated west coast village of Bella Bella. My Dad was working at the hospital there and, one day, was approached by one of the villagers who was very worried about a young relative who was dying. Dad went to see the young man, but there was no medical explanation for his apparent terminal illness.

Dad was told that the young man had been cursed. He had serious offended a member of the community who subsequently hid a matchbox containing the hair and blood of the dying man; it was believed that if he didn’t find the box, he would die.

I don’t remember how the story ended; if they were able to find the match box or if the poor young man did, indeed, die from his belief.

Then, again, in the 80’s, I worked for a man who, after being told he had 6 months to live, flew his family to some tiny village in Indonesia and underwent ‘psychic surgery’ to remove a tumour in his stomach. I met him ten years after going to Indonesia. He and his whole family were true believers that ‘psychic surgery’ saved his life.

Life or death – your choice? What (and how strongly) do you believe?

EFT – For Control of Pain, Anxiety,Cravings and More April 14, 2010

Posted by 0ceanside in Affirmations, Personal growth and development, Uncategorized.
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In previous blogs I have written about the benefits of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques®) and just wanted to expand a bit on the subject today. For the history and science behind the technique and for more information on the wide variety of applications, please refer to the website, www.emofree.com.

EFT is regularly used for the treatment of many physical symptoms including things like physical pain, hunger cravings and anxiety. I have used it very effectively for headache, bee stings, the arthritis pain in my hands and feet and for reducing the levels of anxiety when I have been worried about the health or wellbeing of a friend or loved one.

Here are some simple yet powerful EFT statements to use in conjunction with the tapping points for effective control of pain or anxiety.

Even though I have this (terrible headache/painful bee sting/chronic back pain), I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.

Even though I am very anxious about (writing my biology exam/giving the presentation/my finances) I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.

EFT Diagram

I also recommend EFT to my clients for help with any physical symptoms they experience when quitting smoking, or when dealing with overwhelming emotions. It’s wonderful to have such an effective non pharmaceutical pain reliever/mood leveler at one’s command!

That being said, EFT is also very effective for initiating and supporting belief change simply by modifying the statement you say while tapping.

By transforming the state you are currently experiencing:
Even though I am really anxious about making my presentation in front of the organization,
into a positive and successful outcome:
I know that what I have to tell them is vital to their success.
you can reduce the anxiety you feel while at the same time instill the belief that public speaking is not so frightening because the audience is there to learn from you – not to criticize you.

EFT is invaluable for people who suffer from panic attacks, because it immediately reduces the levels of overwhelming anxiety that can be not only paralyzing, but terrifying.

EFT is not only effective, but it is safe, non addictive and FREE. The technique is easy to learn and easy to teach and the more you use it, the better your result.

My previous caveat applies: If you stub your toe, use EFT to deal with the pain. If you beak your toe – go to the doctor.

Quitting Smoking? Your Non Prescription alternatives. April 7, 2010

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In 1989 when I wanted to quit smoking, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it using will power alone. Although a friend of mine gave me a coupon from the BC Lung Association for laser treatments and I still had to pay $125 for the consult, treatment and one follow up, it worked. This is my 21st year as a non smoker.

So you have decided to quit smoking. You want to stop hiding your habit from your boss, your business associates and your kids and you’re fed up with all the hassles, the cough, the mess and the smell. You are really ready to quit – good for you!

Before you go to your doctor for a prescription to help you quit smoking, please investigate your non pharmaceutical, holistic alternatives. Some doctors are quick to pull out the prescription pad, and many of us here in Canada have extended health plans that pay for all but the dispensing fee, making prescription drugs financially desirable.

While the Lung Association of Canada’s website lists holistic smoking cessation methods as ‘unproven’, I have not seen any articles suggesting that they are addictive, cause depression or inspire suicidal tendencies. What it does say is that quitting smoking is ‘hard’, that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, and that people say that quitting was ‘the hardest thing they have every done’.

The fact is that people quit smoking every day.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, when you change your belief from ‘I’m addicted to nicotine and it’s going to be really hard to quit.” to “ It’s safe and easy for me to quit.” your chance of success just got much better.

That’s where the holistic approach comes in. If you are really ready to quit, talk to a hypnotherapist, or PSYCH-K facilitator. They will be able to help you change your beliefs about quitting; setting you up for success. They’ll also be able to give you tools to combat cravings, or anxiety or irritability without substituting one noxious substance (cigarettes) for another (prescription nicotine replacement therapy).