I will be brutally honest in my story on some very delicate subjects, because, well, in life there are things out of our control and when we accept that, healing can begin. The great news is, there are many things in life we do have some control over! Some may ask what a 26-year old knows about life, health, or wellness, but I’ve been through enough to know quite a bit. As a cancer survivor and medical professional I am passionate about many health and wellbeing topics.
At the age of 19 years, I was diagnosed with cancer, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had the fight of my life, so far anyways. Throughout that journey there were many, many lows, and a few highs. But, I’m not going to go into details about my treatments and side effects, I want to talk about the larger picture. Cancer sucks and it is a difficult challenge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In the beginning of my journey, I was merely physically fighting cancer with the chemotherapy prescribed by my hematologist. After months with little success and the cancer actually spreading, a light bulb went off one day when I was given less than 10% chance to even make it to a state in where I could do a stem cell transplant. I could die, like now, or maybe tomorrow. Throughout the course of the following month I made drastic changes in my life. This is what made me a firm believer in holistic health and medicine.
…a light bulb went off one day when I was given less than 10% chance to even make it to a state in where I could do a stem cell transplant. I could die, like now, or maybe tomorrow.
I began to research on how to fight cancer, without the use of drugs. I changed my diet by eliminating ALL sugar, refined and processed food, and began incorporating some superfoods into my everyday routine. This process assisted the chemotherapy to physically fight the cancer. The next thing I started working on was my emotional and mental health. Until this point, it was almost as if I was numb, not accepting nor denying that I was very sick. I finally broke down and cried. I had teared up a few times here and there, and other than my melt down the day I lost my hair, I really hadn’t allowed any expression of my true emotions. Partly because I think I wanted to be strong for my mom and family, and the other part, I believe, is because mentally I would not let my mind wander to those angry and scary places.
I began to do deep breathing exercises and mantras to help focus my energy in a positive way to promote holistic healing. I also allowed myself to express my emotions openly, especially to my mom who was staying with me in our studio rental at the transplant house. It allowed us to have conversations about life and death. I’ve always considered myself a spiritual person, however, because I was quite confined for most of my 20th year of life, I was unable to attend my regular church services and slept quite often, not really making time for my spiritual needs. I began praying on a regular basis and focused more attention and energy on my faith. Spirituality is different for everyone and that is okay, for me, it was my relationship with my faith and God. No matter what you believe or don’t believe in, you still have a spiritual part of you that needs attention and healing. As this last component of holistic health came into play, there was this calming sensation and no matter what happens, even if I died throughout my journey with cancer, that was okay. We are all going to die someday, and no one on earth knows when or how, but accepting it was something that I needed to do to let my body, mind, and spirit fully heal.
No matter what you believe or don’t believe in, you still have a spiritual part of you that needs attention and healing.
My journey to health and wellness is not over, nor will it ever be, as it is a lifelong journey. I have already come across thyroid issues and potential fertility issues since my remission from cancer and I’m sure more health issues will arise as time goes by. However, because of my experience with cancer, I do believe using a holistic approach to healing our body, mind, and spirit’s is the way to achieve true wellness and health.
Did Amanda’s journey resonate with you? She’s pretty much our hero! Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your courage, heart and truth behind your convictions. Your ability to embody strength and kindness is equal parts humbling and inspiring. May we have your same willpower to say ‘no thank’ to that 2nd Reese’s on Halloween next week!
Amanda’s story of self-RE-discovery is a part of a larger series, or rather larger conversation, around the work, self-care, and badassery that’s inherent in health, happiness and fulfillment.
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