I have been listening to a fascinating summit on healing cancer holistically and radical remission. This is a topic that has been important for me for 20 years since I helped my mother navigate a cancer diagnosis, working with both successful holistic approaches and Western medicine. Wow, was that a powerful experience. The topic of holistic care for disease is gaining steam, and it is part of my mission to support research and strong exposure to the many life-affirming options available when receiving a diagnosis, including science-based research and data-based evidence that is not made available to the mainstream public due to lack of funding.
Kelly A. Turner, Ph.D. researcher and counselor in integrative oncology, wrote a book called Radical Remission. She traveled the world interviewing cancer survivors who had been given a terminal diagnosis, who often by the way considered remission an outcome of radical and longer-term choices, not spontaneous at all. To call it “spontaneous” is perceived as negating the hard work and dedication these survivors implemented in their lives, albeit not measured scientifically.
Dr. Turner highlighted nine factors that presented themselves over and over as those leading to remission, even after conventional treatment failed the survivors. One of those factors was Joy. And the thing she discovered from survivors time and again was that their Joy definitely didn’t mean they were always happy. Boy, did that resonate for me as true!
My own experience of Joy has often come through the passage of a difficult experience that allowed me to tap into what was most alive in me, and juxtapose my suffering with all of the potential of my life, snapping me into profound gratitude and Joy. I remember sitting with a meditation teacher, feeling deep grief inside of me for a recent loss, a bit of hopelessness and a total lack of clarity. Something she said touched me in my relaxed and tender state, and in that moment I popped into a place of feeling more alive and complete than I had felt in a long time. That feeling was sublime and grounding and reconnected me with the profound gift of being alive. Sometimes a painful time connected me deeply with what lived in my Soul and what was most important to me. What I want and what I DON’T want. This permission to explore these deeper places inside of me opened my eyes to a much larger ocean of possibility, and the complexity of life. And the wonder and magic of that is powerful. It’s like looking up at the sky, the stars and constellations, on a clear night, and really getting how vast the Universe is and just how much is going on. Wait a minute…That’s incredible!
So this is a reminder that we don’t have to be happy all of the time to feel Joy. Happiness is great, and really so is the soulful spectrum of our alive state in all of its forms. We don’t need to judge our dark night of the soul as bad and our laughter and play as good, never the two to meet. What if we played with that and gave ourselves permission to say “Yes” to and celebrate the soul needing to process confusion, pain, sadness and grief, letting go, radical healing as a wondrous aspect of being fully alive? Who said that being fully alive was always supposed to feel good? See what I mean? Maybe it’s just our mindset that makes it intolerable. Change the mind, change our relationship to the experience. Doable? Totally!
Here’s to each of us embracing the full spectrum of being alive, and finding our Joy in that.
To your Joy…Melanie
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