On February 3, 2010 I entered my third year of being cancer free. Today was my regular 3 month check-up with my oncologist and I am happy to report all is well and that my tumor markers all look good. Why then do I feel like a basket case? During my appointment my Doctor and I discussed the long-reaching and long-term effects of surviving cancer and it’s treatment. Unlike other illnesses where one’s life usually returns to normal after the illness has run its course, the life of a cancer survivor never really returns to normal because we are never completely free from the threat of a reoccurrence. For me, this has ment that I have had to re-learn how to do everyday tasks anew, through a new pair of lenses. Lenses that are brightly full of life and slightly fearfull around the edges. While reading Caring 4 Cancer, I ran across an article by Jemery R. Griffin M.D. that discusses what he calls “The Seven Levels of Healing”. According to Dr. Griffin all seven levels of healing are all connected and they are 1. Education and Information, 2. Connection with Others, 3. The Body as Garden, 4. Emotional Healing, 5. The Nature of Mind, 6. Life Assessment and 7. The Nature of Spirit. For me true healing has come through recognizing that my physical well-being as well as my emotional and spiritual well-being are all deeply interconnected. What I have experienced is that long after treatment is completed, I am still processing the trauma and gifts of surviving cancer. While understanding that the landscape of a young cancer survivor’s life after is still a relatively new frontier, there is information out there for us. With that information in hand we can take back control of our lives. We can find the support and tools needs to re-learn how to do “everyday” life and drive the effort to raise awareness about the situations that are unique to young cancer survivors. It is through my healing journey that can I understand why on appointment days I am so freaked out. Having said all that I am so glad to be a live and on my journey through the Seven Levels of Healing, knowing that I am not alone and that there is a beautiful life after cancer.
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