08 November 2016

Cancer and Hope

Faced with the diagnosis of Cancer, the first thing that comes to mind is death followed by fear. Your close family members are in shock and think you are going to die. Despite this, the chances of surviving cancer are improving all the time and these rates have doubled over the last 40 years. There are over 200 different types of cancer and all types are long-term conditions. Having cancer becomes a journey and at the start of it, you may find yourself going through every emotion possible and your mind can be in absolute turmoil. You need a lifeline and that lifeline is “Hope” and hope is your keyword to surviving your cancer.

Unfortunately, a lot of well meaning health professionals do not realise the impact their prognosis has on their vulnerable cancer patients. Albeit they have the best intentions, they can say things which are not helpful. The brain chases certainty and vulnerable cancer patients will lock on to how long they have to live and with this any hope that they may have had is then diminished. The “Belief” that they are going to die at a specific time can become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

The Research on Cancer Survivors

According to Macmillan researchers, 170,000 people diagnosed with cancer in the late 70’s and 80’s are still alive!


A lot has been written about the connection to “self”.  Some people have reported that cancer has disconnected them from their “self”.   Whether you are spiritual or not, it is interesting that a biblical definition of hope is:  “to have an anchor on your soul.”   “Hope is essential to the believer for joy, so it’s critical to have.”  

How to Connect with Self

A good way of getting a connection with your “self” or soul can be done through meditation.   Mindful meditation has been well documented to help with anxiety, depression, chronic pain and high blood pressure.  Being aware of your breathing during meditation will help stop unwanted thoughts creeping into your mind.  Habitual meditation not only gives you a sense of well being but also it can give you an awareness that will help you to focus on what you can control.  

How Meditation can help with Cancer

A five year study conducted by Harvard scientists revealed that meditation affects DNA and brain activity. According to John Denninger, a Psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School leading the study:

“There is a true biological effect. The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”  His research concluded that these mind and body techniques could have the power to switch on and off genes linked to stress and immune function.

Visualisation in meditation can facilitate your own natural immune response.  Your therapist can guide you through the images that might be helpful. There are many Internet sites giving guided meditations for cancer:


Coping with Cancer

Coping with your cancer is hard but accepting that cancer is part of your body can be an important milestone.  Language that is used around cancer can be negative.  People say you are fighting cancer or you are fighting a battle, but how can you fight your own body?  It may be better not to wage war on your cancer but to come to a truce that will enable you to have a peaceful acceptance.

Surviving Cancer

Whether you choose to have conventional treatments or alternative styles of treatment,  it is important to remember you have a choice. Lifestyle changes are inevitable, as well as changing your diet. Cutting out sugar and reducing your salt intake should be your first priority. There are many stories from cancer survivors on the Internet on how to survive cancer and many include a change to diet, more exercise and a determination to live life to the fullest. The stories of these people are so inspirational as they never give up hope.  I am particularly inspired and in awe of my friend and Sensei - teacher of Martial Arts, David Passmore. I went to David’s 70th Birthday party this year.  He is still actively teaching Martial Arts having been diagnosed with follicular Lymphoma in 1983!  He is also a cancer coach and his story and information on how to live with cancer can be found on his website: http://www.davidpassmore.co.uk/home/4592676730 

Hope Programme

A Hope programme run by Macmillan Cancer Trust and Coventry University helps individuals  deal with stress, fatigue, body image and can help in managing a healthy lifestyle as well as goal setting techniques.

Macmillan recognises that mindfulness, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Hypnotherapy can be very beneficial. in helping people cope with their fears and frustrations that living and surviving cancer can bring.  Hypnotherapy can also help with symptoms such as nausea and anxiety.

Jill Tonks is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and a Cancer Coach with Macmillan.  Her recent talk on Cancer inspired me to write this blog and I hope she will forgive me for using some of her words.  She can be contacted at jilltonks.com/hypnotherapy-for-cancer-coaching/

Finally, I would like to say that a lot of cancer survivors report that cancer is a life changing disease and that it has empowered them to move into different areas of working.    Helping other cancer sufferers and giving them hope can be quite life enhancing

If you think Cognitive Hypnotherapy could help you, please email info@hilarycrundwellhypnotherapy.com or phone 07735 508361 to make an appointment at my clinic at 2 Clayfield Mews,  Newcomen Road, Tunbridge Wells. TN4 9PA  It could change your life.