‘And an excellent and moving read it is too. And edgy, witty, informative, counter-hegemonic…’ Dr Alec Grant, Reader in Narrative Mental Health, University of Brighton.
One of my doctors in Mexico told me that cancer was a mensaje, a message. This memoir is an account of my healing and an exploration of what that message was for me, and how I came to see my journey as part of something far greater at this critical time in our evolution.
My experience of very different sorts of healthcare showed me that conventional and alternative medicine can combine, meaning that patients do not have to wage a war of ideologies at a time of deep personal crisis. All over the world, alternative healing centres are establishing offering alternative medical treatment from plant medicine to integrative cancer care, and as we become more conscious and mindful of what we put into our bodies, we will seek out these places, however problematic this may be. There are no easy answers in cancer or mental illness, but the growing awareness of the emotional aspect of dis-ease and the desire for holistic treatments needs to be acknowledged by the mainstream to ensure that all patients have access to all available modalities that can help us heal our bodies and our minds. My healing took on new meaning when I began to see my body as a part of the natural world, which I’d neglected and abused through ignorance, and which desperately needed my conscious attention and care. But I wasn’t educated to love myself or to understand how everything we do impacts the whole. I needed to understand this to heal and for me, that meant reclaiming the sacred, and embracing what Satish Kumar, Peace Pilgrim and editor emeritus of Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine calls ‘a reverent ecology,’ both inner and outer. My illness gave me the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and question whether my learnt beliefs were serving me; to stop living in fear and to allow myself to be happy, reclaiming the truths in my earlier psychoses. I’m grateful to cancer for making me clean up, speak up and feel OK about defining myself as spiritual as well as a human being, one responsible to and an inseparable part of the whole of our increasingly fragile world.