Find Your Own Road

excerpt from an article in the Guelph Mercury:

Here comes October and Breast Cancer month once again! For those of us who have had breast cancer, this means that we have lived to see yet another year. Hopefully it has been a year of good health and happiness, qualities which can be elusive to people living with chronic disease. It sometimes takes a lot of work to get moving in the right direction, but the payoff is great.

Almost 20 years ago, I started looking for ways to get on a path to be as healthy as I could be. My initial activity was to work with a psychologist who helped me process unfinished business and let it go so I was working with a clean slate. She advised me to read books and gain as much knowledge as I could handle, with regard to cancer and how to cope with it. She also told me to do something nice for myself every day which was a major breakthrough for me.

I began to notice a common thread in the educational material and I composed a list called “Find Your Own Road”. It was interesting that Dr. Marla Shapiro did a TV show about her experience with breast cancer, and called it “Run Your Own Race”. Her idea is basically the same as mine in that the medical system takes wonderful care of the body, but you alone have to figure out how to deal with the emotional toll on your brain. I know how hard it is to get going by your self though, and a good support system is crucial.

With the help of a wonderful committee I organized 6 annual retreats for women with breast cancer based on the components of “Find Your Own Road”. My goal was to have the women at the retreat feel nurtured, and to help them up the steep learning curve of living with a major disease. Some of them found the retreat to be a life altering experience. The impact of a retreat can be a giant step on the road to healing because you step out of your normal environment into a place where you can gain a new perspective. However, if you or a loved one is living with a chronic disease, you can build all the factors used at the retreat into your life to help yourself to heal.

The basic building blocks of good health are nutrition, exercise and sleep. At the retreat we provided: lots of good food such as fruits and vegetables; a variety of exercise such as walking and Tai Chi, Qigong, or Yoga; as much sleep as needed and deep relaxation in the form of Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, and Reflexology, and massage.

Laughter gives a boost towards good health and happiness so there were liberal amounts of that at the retreat. Music Therapy is a great tool, either with a therapist using Guided Imagery or by listening to music which soothes your soul. It is easy to build laughter and music into your life and both can change your mood anytime and anywhere.

Inspirational aids which help us cope are: prayer and meditation to help us along our spiritual path, journaling and story telling to help us organize our thoughts and let go of unpleasant memories.

The underlying key to the feeling of well being at a retreat however, is being in the company of others who care about you. To create the same feeling yourself, you can build your own support system with friends and family, or you can turn to an organization which provides these services such as a Hospice.

Our retreats maintained a level of simplicity as this is becoming a lost art, and it was a refreshing change for many people. I believe that many health problems could be solved if people would just slow down and pay more attention to the simple pleasures of life. The location for the retreat is a beautiful place which put us in touch with nature; a nurturing process in itself. Don’t forget to look for walking trails and parks where it is possible to find a sense of peace.

In addition, I hope that you will remember to “Find Your Own Road” if you are dealing with chronic disease or chronic stress. Taking good care of yourself to be as healthy as you can be benefits not only you, but your family, your friends, and the community who will reap the rewards as well.

Copyright, Lynn Roodbol
Lynn Roodbol, Certified Wellness Coach