I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1987 at age 32.
As a practising oncology social worker, I knew how serious this was, and I felt totally overwhelmed. I realised that all my understanding of treatments was no help in dealing with this huge change in my life. I had no idea where to start.
My struggle to come to terms with my cancer took a long time and taught me how important it is to take charge of your own situation. When you are diagnosed, you need proper information in a language you can understand. You need time to process it so that you can make decisions that are right for you personally. You have to move from shock to some level of understanding to cope with the challenges you face.
My therapeutic approach aims at normalising your experience as far as possible. It offers a safe place to explore your personal situation and provides an environment that assist in your adjustment to the cancer crisis. Together we develop and individualise a care plan with emphasis on some tools to help you move forward, one step at a time. Moving from a position of feeling out of control to a place of empowerment is daunting but a crucial part of the healing journey.
Most people have very negative perceptions of cancer. When diagnosed, they believe it is a death sentence and give up before they even start. But cancer is far more curable now than ever before. You can play a vital role in shaping your unique cancer journey by adopting a more holistic, integrated approach that includes medical and complementary methods. My philosophy is “Explore and choose the best fit for you.” Developing practices of engagement, integration and refocused hope as building blocks for this journey.
I use the Wellness Community’s Patient Active Approach because it is empowering and expands your range of options to create a healing plan that suits you. It helps you feel less intimidated and take more control, so that you can avoid handing over all the decisions to other people. It upholds your right to a second opinion and encourages you to think about nutrition and support activities, including complementary therapies, and ask for what you need.
Oncology treatment is often very focused on the medical aspects of cancer. The emotional aspects of cancer are often underrated. When faced with financial pressure and little acknowledgement of the emotional impact, counselling may be the last thing on your agenda. The Patient Active Approach emphasises that you have a say in how you manage stress and deal with your emotional well being. Active engagement in your healing as well as the development of physical and other holistic self-care strategies, are important to consider.
I firmly believe that it is important to consider an approach that will encourage you to think about the value of counselling to support you in your cancer journey. Counselling can play a positive role in guiding you from the shock of a cancer diagnosis to a full and vibrant approach to life.
My experience is that people who follow the Patient Active Approach feel more in control, more empowered, more hopeful, more engaged in their cancer journey and generally fare better. The main thing is that you yourself decide what is comfortable for you, without feeling guilty about your choices, and that you discuss your decisions openly with your health care team. In doing so, you can find the right balance of activities to support the efficacy of your treatment.
My holistic counselling approach will help you explore and develop coping strategies to integrate your cancer experience into your life.
Whatever you decide, please bear in mind that the way we live our lives is our main legacy. My wish for you is that you create a living legacy that will bring joy and meaning into your life and the lives of the people you love. I believe in living until you die and not dying while you are living!
The importance of managing emotions and stress when diagnosed with cancer
You need to know you will experience many different emotions such as:
shock, disempowerment, disbelief, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, worry, doubt, deep sadness and feelings of loss . All these feelings are part of the reality of your cancer experience.
You need support in exploring these emotions in a safe environment that will help you develop a healing plan to suit your personal needs. Distress is seen as the sixth vital sign of cancer, and stress associated with your cancer experience must be addressed so that positive well-being can be promoted.
Linda’s CV – download