Cancer Diagnosis, finding peace with cancer, Inquiry, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer

HOW would you LIVE if you knew you were dying?

Flashback to 17-year-old me at a Tim McGraw & Faith Hill concert with my besties when one of our favorite songs comes on, “Live Like You Were Dying.” Jumping up and down, belting the lyrics (in perfect harmony, I’m sure), swaying side by side…

Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it

What would I do with it? Well, at that time, my main focus was obvious: try to capture a pic of Tim’s gorgeous butt in those wrangler jeans.

Now that I’m 36 and have rocked through the cancer party–it’s safe to say my priorities have shifted a bit.

One thing I didn’t expect is that Death has become a welcomed, fascinating meditation. You’re dying. I’m dying. We’re all dying. Let’s face it, bodies don’t make it. No medication, supplement, prayer, meditation, exercise, or amount of money will prevent you from transitioning out of this body.

So why do we spend so much time fearing it? Why is death looked at as a worse-case scenario? A bad thing? And why is it such a HUSH topic of conversation?

In my recent blog post, “Diagnosis = New Direction,” I talk about how I prefer to explore my nightmares now. And one of those nightmares is the cancer coming back terminally and being given those words, “there’s nothing more we can do. It’s only a matter of time.”

And here’s my favorite question to contemplate…

How would I live if I knew I was dying?

The time in between my diagnosis and waiting to find out how much the cancer had spread were 2 of the most amazing weeks of my life. All of the daily bullshit stressors completely dropped away and I found myself in an incredible state of gratitude for everything and everyone. I experienced joy in the simplest of pleasures ~ riding the trolley, watching our godson’s soccer games, cooking a meal, sitting under a hot shower, holding hands with my husband, stepping on acorns (not kidding ~ there is something SO gratifying about the crunch of an acorn!).

As I try on this scary future and let myself feel through the terror…I see an opportunity for even more presence, slowing down, deeply connecting with my loved ones. Appreciating every second that I am able to see my Godson grow up. Falling in love with my husband all over again.

I see sharing my experience of dying with others and learning from others. I see acceptance, peace, gratitude for every moment that I’ve been given. Forgiveness ~ making amends with others and within myself for anything that still hurts.

I see traveling more when/if it’s an option for my body. If I can’t travel, I see asking my friends from all over the world to send me short 30 sec videos of the inspiring places they go and things they do.

I’d say YES to adventure…I’d try that salsa class, jump on a surf board, go white water kayaking, float in a hot air balloon.

I’d snuggle. A lot.

I’d continue to take care of my mind with self inquiry and would question thoughts like “I am dying…can I absolutely know it’s true? Or is it truer that in reality, I am still here breathing? Is it possible that I am even more alive than I have ever been?” 

I’d love on my body with nourishing foods, movement, time in nature. I’d love the shit out of that piece of chocolate cake and glass of wine too.

Any part of aging would be such a privilege ~ finding a grey hair or wrinkle? Yes, please! That means I get to get older.

I’d probably have some pretty stellar freakouts ~ and just like I did during the cancer journey, I’d get to learn over and over again that I’m still ok in this moment…and this one…and this one…I could feel the intimacy of being with myself in that deep pain & suffering. And the intimacy of being held by someone else.

And there’s one more thing I would be super motivated to do:


(Yes, I’ve been writing a book! Woot! Woot! More on this later 😉

So…WHY wait? I can live ALL of this now.

Perhaps the turnaround to my question is truer:

How would I live if I knew I was dying living?

With an open mind, death can be a catalyst for truly living. This contemplation on dying is giving me the perfect prescription for how to fully embrace life. So what are YOU waiting for? #RxLiveLikeYouAreDying

Work with me…

Schedule a Private Session

New! Inner Peace Retreat ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: April 27-29

New! Making Peace w/Disease Online Series: May 7-June 11

Related blog posts…

How I Found Peace During “The Waiting Game”

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

Diagnosis = New Direction

Alternative/Complimentary Therapies, anxiety and cancer, Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer, Uncategorized, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Conventional vs. Alternative Medicine ~ can’t we all just get along?

Ok, I’d like to have an open and honest chat about different avenues of healing and how I’ve struggled. Us cancer patients/thrivers want to support ourselves in every way possible to both cure cancer now and forever ~ we see lots of doctors, read books, talk to fellow cancer peeps, and do research online. Actually, we do A LOT of research online which can sometimes lead to exciting discoveries and more often, it leads to a full on-set of Google-itus (panic attack + frozen in fear + holy-shit-everything-causes-cancer-including-the-treatments-I’m-going-to-die-and-it-won’t-be-pretty syndrome). Just me?


Cancer can be treated different ways. There is the more common conventional route, also known as modern medicine, which usually includes a combo of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapies. And there is the alternative route, also known as natural medicine, which treats cancer with various natural modalities such as nutrition, juicing, cleansing, herbs, supplements, mind/body work, vitamin infusions, and other therapies.


I’m noticing most people fall into one camp or the other.


I seem to be a rare bird. Someone who sees SO MUCH love, knowledge, value, and benefit in BOTH worlds. This is why I chose to do a combined approach for healing. I had a good experience while undergoing 18 months of cancer treatment and if you could see me now, you would have no clue that I have been through 5 months of aggressive chemo, 2 surgeries, 5 ½ weeks of radiation, and am currently on Tamoxifen. I look and feel great, and I attribute this to going into the experience with a clear mind and supporting myself with many natural ways of healing too: yoga, inquiry, acupuncture, nutrition, juicing, supplements, emotional releasing, and sound healing to name a few. So yes, I do drugs and nature.

I do drugs and nature 🙂


I’m a plant-based organic-eating yogini who also believes in science-based medicine, and this has been one of my biggest challenges: the war between conventional and alternative medicine. They trash the shit out of each other!


When trying to support myself in learning natural ways to heal and ease side effects, it was nearly impossible to find an article or study that did not bash chemo, radiation, and surgery. Statements like “chemo only creates cancer and kills people,” “the cancer will come back even worse if you do conventional medicine,” “it’s all a big pharma conspiracy ~ they are just trying to keep you sick so they can make money.”


As someone who said yes to what my conventional doctors recommended, this created a lot of fear and shame. I reached a point where it just felt kinder to myself to stop consulting the almighty Google and focus on being present with myself.


But then there’s a flip side. When reading articles about conventional medicine or talking to some of my doctors, I noticed many would immediately discredit natural therapies as pure “quackery,” and completely ignore the many accounts of people being healed, for years, without any use of conventional medicine. “That’s impossible. A total waste of time and money. How dare they take advantage of these vulnerable human beings.” Then there are also stories of naturopathic doctors who have mysteriously gone missing after claiming they found a cure for cancer. Or they are faced with legal charges making their medical practice illegal.


As someone who has experienced so many benefits from my yoga & meditation practices, eating a clean diet, doing acupuncture, and incorporating more supplements, this left me feeling frustrated and annoyed that doctors weren’t more interested in this. “Hey – look at me! I’m actually enjoying cancer! Don’t ya wanna know why/how?”


And if the overwhelming amount of conflicting information isn’t enough, I see people harshly judging each other for their choices in treatment, both in person and also all over social media, forums, & online.


It’s tough. I don’t know what is true and what is not. I see valuable points on each side. I’m not a doctor, a scientist, or an expert with healing plants. All I have is my experience of the cancer journey and this part has been hard for me. I have felt torn, confused, and overwhelmed…oh wait, stress causes cancer too! Ahhhhh!!!!


I know people who have died after the use of conventional medicine. I know people who are completely healed by it. I know people who have died after the use of natural medicine. I know people who are healed or in the process of healing from it. There are bonuses and risks in both paths; neither carries a guaranteed cure. There are good days and hard days in both paths too, neither is a joyous party 100% of the time.


So why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we just accept that there is more than one way to heal cancer? Why do we need to put down another healing path in order to share and promote our own? Think about it. If you are really set in your beliefs about medicine (or anything), in which scenario are you more willing to change them? When someone comes at you with insults or when someone invites you to an open-hearted conversation rooted in experience and research?


In my medical utopia, I see both sides coming together as one. Dropping the judgments and criticism, the shaming and anger, and being more open to learning from each other. We all have the same goal: to cure cancer and live long, happy, healthy lives.


So how can we end this war?


Simple. I can control every word that is posted on the internet and every word that comes out of your mouth. Easy peasy. Right?


It starts with me. I can stop trashing conventional and alternative medicine for trashing each other. I can stop seeing them as two separate sides in my own mind. I can focus on the wonderful and helpful ways I have healed from cancer and share them with others. I can stop being defensive/taking things personally when someone questions my treatment choices. I can be open and excited to learn from others who did not choose the same healing path. I can be a compassionate, non-judgmental listener when someone complains about their experience. I can make peace within myself over any shame or guilt I have carried for my own choices.


Ok, this sounds great…but HOW?


The Work of Byron Katie. I take my stressful thoughts and judgments about doctors, medicine, treatment, myself, and others to inquiry. I sit in meditation with the 4 questions and turnarounds and I free myself from the war within. It leaves me more open, more available, and more authentic with myself and others.


When I read articles or watch documentaries, I not only take notes on what I’d like to incorporate into my own life or ask my doctors about, I take notes on stressful thoughts that come up from the words that I read. See…it all can be a gift. Bringing me back to my work. My awakening.


When I do my work, my mind opens to see that my “medical utopia dream” is actually more of a reality than I realize. I remember that my conventional doctors talked to me about nutrition, yoga, meditation, acupuncture…they even recommended writing. My Chinese Medical doctor encouraged my use of conventional therapies and he offered acupuncture and herbs that not only helped to ease side effects, they helped the medicine to work more efficiently. Last week, my Dermatologist recommended using essential oils for scarring. How cool!


My practice keeps coming back to this: There is no single right or wrong way to heal. We all do what is right for us. For me, the most important part of my healing path is peace.


If you’re looking to find more peace around any type of diagnosis (from cancer, to allergies, to low back pain), I invite you to join me and my dear friend, Helena, for our upcoming online class series, “Making Peace with Disease using The Work of Byron Katie” that starts December 4th. Save $30 when you register by tomorrow. You can join from the comfort of your home and even stay in your PJ’s. I won’t judge 😉


And let’s keep this conversation flowing…how else can we work together to create a more harmonious, healing experience for all?

Image result for byron katie quote defense is the first act of war

Work with me…

Schedule a private session

New online series! Making Peace with Disease through The Work of Byron Katie: Dec 4 – Jan 21 

Yoga, Inquiry, Gong Meditation: November 9

Yoga & The Work ~ Teacher Training: November 19 & January 14


Related blog posts…

Alternative/Complimentary Therapies for My Breast Cancer Treatment

Inquiry: “Chemo is poisonous to my body” ~ is it true?

All-Natural Remedies for Chemo Side Effects

Mental Medicine: The Work of Byron Katie


anxiety and cancer, Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Post Treatment, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Diagnostic Testing without Stressing

Last week, I was lying in a twisty yoga pose when I felt some new lumpy tissue above my left breast. “Perfect timing!” I thought, since my next follow-up appointment with my breast surgeon was just around the corner. I felt zero anxiety, zero stress leading up to the appointment.

Today during my visit, I had two different doctors explore the lumps with their hands and then they did a sonogram. I noticed thoughts arise my mind, “The cancer is back! This can’t be good!” accompanied by scary images of the future. Yet, I didn’t believe them. I clearly saw that they are not real, in this moment it’s just imagination.

Do you know what I experienced instead?

Pure gratitude for reality. Gratitude for the lumps showing up, gratitude for the trained experts, and gratitude for the sonogram machine that can further investigate what’s going on in my body.

My breast surgeon then said, “It all looks good! See you in 6 months.”

5 Steps to Clear Scanxiety

Do you feel anxious, worried, & fearful when it comes to doctor appointments and diagnostic tests? If so, you are so not alone. Whether you’re simply scheduling the appointment, driving to the exam, sitting in the waiting room, getting your boob squashed, or being rolled in and out of a magnetic test tube…it’s possible to be at peace.

Here are 5 simple steps that have helped me deal with the oh-so-common Scanxiety:

  1. Connect with your breath.

Notice where your breath is in your body. Begin to focus your breath on your belly. Take a deep breath in through the nose, and a nice long exhale out through the mouth.

  1. Touch something solid.

Use your hands to touch something solid – the chair, a wall, the table. Feel the floor beneath your feet, your hips on the chair, or your back or stomach on the exam table.

  1. Notice your surroundings.

Become a witness of what is around you. See the shapes, colors, and textures. Notice the sounds – the voices, the music, the machinery. Take in the smells (ok, maybe not!). Observe the movement of people around you. See the kindness in people’s eyes.

  1. Question your thinking.

If you feel stress, pause and notice your thoughts. “This will be painful…The results will be bad”…and ask yourself these 2 questions from The Work of Byron Katie: Can I absolutely know it’s true in this moment? Who would I be, right here, right now without the thought?

  1. Remember it’s all here FOR you.

The doctors, the nurses, the staff, the needles, the drugs, the lighting, the equipment, the music, the warm blanket…it’s all here for you. To support you. To get a clear picture of what’s going on in your body. To help you heal. To give you the next direction.

And if you try these 5 steps and epically fail…that’s all good too! You are free to freak the f*ck out. There is nothing wrong with you. Forgive yourself. Begin again. There will always be another opportunity to practice in Life School, I promise.

Work with me…

Schedule a private session

New online series! Making Peace with Disease through The Work of Byron Katie: Dec 4 – Jan 21 

Exploring Mind/Body ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: October 21

Yoga, Inquiry, Gong Meditation: November 9

Yoga & The Work ~ Teacher Training: November 19 & January 14


Related blog posts…

What if Fear is just a Fart?

Inquiry: “The cancer is spreading” ~ is it true?

How I Found Peace during “The Waiting Game”

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Reconstruction, Inquiry, Medical Updates, Post Treatment, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Uncategorized

Follow-ups, the Boob Whisperer, Clear Scans, & Summer Fun

It’s been 2 1/2 months since my final reconstruction surgery. Recovery has had its’ ups and downs ~ physically, mentally, & emotionally as described in my last post about meeting big emotions. Although I technically finished treatment on May 4th ~ it really hasn’t felt that way.

In addition to the crazy places my mind went, all of my follow-up appointments happened to fall during the month of June: my plastic surgeon, breast surgeon, oncologist, & gynecologist, as well as my physical therapist twice per week. Add a CT scan and a vaginal sonogram to the mix…June was rockin.

It helps me to remind myself of WHY I have these appointments. They are FOR me. To support me, to make sure things are healing properly, and to monitor this body so it can continue to be free from cancer. My job is to show up and continue to free my mind of cancerous thinking.

I love physical therapy (aka private yoga therapy paid by insurance).

I was able to work with the amazing Tiffany again ~ she is the one who helped me with cording after my mastectomy. I call her my “Boob Whisperer” as her main goal was to help my boobs become more even by breaking up the scar tissue from radiation. I didn’t realize how much the tissue underneath the skin was affected from radiation until I got my final implants ~ the scar tissue has been pulling leftie up and out.

I’m not going to lie ~ I was NOT cool with my new boobs at first. Leftie was a couple of inches higher and if you were standing to the left of me, my left nipple would be looking straight at you saying, “Hey – I’ve never seen life from this angle before.” Rightie looks pretty good until I flex my pec muscle ~ it then shrivels up into a squashed raisin. I can get self-conscious of it when I’m in certain yoga poses and when I’m intimate with my husband.

I also adopted a daily practice of obsessively staring them down in the mirror, examining their weirdness from every angle, comparing them to my gift-from-God original breasts, and then crying. A lot.

As healthy as this practice was, I realized another approach would be more beneficial for my sanity. Investigating my stressful thoughts about body image using The Work of Byron Katie: “I want them to change. They should be even. I want my old breasts back. They are not attractive. It’s not fair.”

These thoughts weigh heavy on my heart. They block me from seeing the miraculous healing that’s taking place. Can I love my body just as it is? Yes, I can love it in all its glorious weirdness. Do I need to despise my body in order to take action? No. I can do my part from a place of peace – ask the surgeon questions, go to physical therapy, do my home practice, buy flattering bras, be gentle with myself, and commit to my inner work. There’s also the option of a revision surgery in December which was recommended by my surgeon. I’m open. We’ll see.

This is all an ongoing practice for me ~ I am a work in progress. And what’s cool is although there are moments of struggle, I’m still living a very full and happy life.

I am looking and feeling better every day. My energy is coming back. I have NO doctor appointments for 3 WHOLE MONTHS (a new paradigm!). And best of all, my last CT scan was CLEAR!

I learned that according to doctors, I have been in remission for over a year already! The start date is the day I was pronounced with “no evidence of disease” which was after my mastectomy & lymph node dissection on 4/18/16. The words “in remission” and “survivor” don’t really fit for me ~ I prefer “cured” and “thriver” unless there’s proof otherwise.

1st yoga selfie & beach trip with my girls

I have lived in Texas for 17 years and every summer, I have cursed the heat. Last year was the summer of expander boobs and radiation. So now, I’m embracing spending as much of summers in “Not Texas” as possible 🙂

This summer seems to have a water theme! I just went to Vero Beach, Florida to visit my family. Walking the beach, body surfing, kayaking, and relaxing with my family was the perfect transition.

It finally feels like treatment is OVER!

Tomorrow, I’m heading to cancer camp (YES – that’s a thing!) hosted by First Descents in Montana for a white water/kayaking adventure with my friend, Michelle. We met in Spain 10 years ago and she was diagnosed 6 months after me. How funny it is that at one time we were touring Spanish vineyards, sipping Cava, & partying in clubs all night…now we text boob pictures to each other and ask questions like, “How much hair do you have left? How are your boobs doing? Can I see them? Do yours ripple like this?” as well as so many words of encouragement. I can’t wait to see her.

After Montana, I’ll spend a week in Colorado and then in August, a romantic trip to Tulum with my husband. I am so looking forward to this time with him where we can just be a young, regular ol’ couple, in love, in paradise, in celebration of a new chapter of our life. We’ve been through a lot over the past few years.

Self-care continues with daily movement, inquiry, and eating organic, plant-based meals + fish & eggs. I’m mostly free of gluten, soy, dairy, & processed sugar. If I splurge, it’s for pizza, wine, and chocolate…and it’s worth it! More on my lifestyle diet here.

To boost my immune system further, I’ve started to get into medicinal mushrooms like Reishi (which I took as a supplement) and Chaga (which I drink as a tea or add to coffee). I still love acupuncture and go once or twice a month and after my trips, I’ll start massages with an oncology-trained therapist.

I’m offering some REALLY cool online class series, workshops, and retreats in the fall. Join my mailing list or FaceBook page if you’re interested. It feels SO GOOD to be back in the swing of things.

Much LOVE to you and have an amazing summer!!!


Upcoming events…

Inner Peace Retreat ~ Yoga & The Work in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky: Sept 7-10

Exploring Mind/Body ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: Sept 30 (Dallas)

Exploring Mind/Body ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: October 21 (Ft. Worth)

6-week online series! Making Peace with Disease through The Work of Byron Katie: Dec 4 – Jan 21 


Related blog posts…

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

When Complications Become Blessings

Meeting BIG Emotions in the Cancer Journey

Complimentary Nutrition & Supplements for Cancer Treatment

Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Post Treatment, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, the work of byron katie and cancer, Uncategorized

Meeting BIG Emotions in the Cancer Journey

Inside-Out-Craft-3-758x1024People often tell me, “It’s amazing how positive you are all of the time about cancer!” Lol…I love your story of me 😉 And perhaps you have not read my blog. Yes, I have found a way to navigate the cancer journey with peace, grace, humor, & joy. The entire experience has been and continues to be the biggest blessing of my entire life. And guess what? I still freak the f*ck out sometimes too!

Some of the biggest emotional rollercoasters have been felt during this past month AFTER I completed cancer treatment. This took me by surprise…I mean, I’m done – right? There’s NO cancer – right? What’s going on here?

When I was in the middle of chemo, I attended a cancer support group. With my bald head and tiny body, I shared that I was surprised at how well I was doing ~ I felt pretty darn good compared to the stories I had heard and my attitude remained clear and positive. Then the ladies said, “Oh…you just wait until after treatment. You’re going to feel horrible.” Then I went on to hear about how terrible their lives are, the side effects from treatment (which honestly didn’t really seem related to treatment), and how they live in constant fear of a recurrence. As I witnessed their suffering, I could see so clearly that it was in their minds ~ if they could just let go of these stories, this victimhood, they would have a happy life (insert spiritual arrogance here). Why can’t they just see this?

Well, I’ll tell you why. When you’re in the midst of suffering, you are bombarded with a sea of stressful thoughts, images, physical exhaustion, & BIG emotions. A dark cloud looms over you, covering your eyes, so that all you can see is crap here and crap there. You are blind and stuck in a shitty mental movie. How do I know?

I’ve been here. And I’ve come to realize that depression, fear, anger, resentment, loneliness, and disappointment are not a problem. Do you want to know what makes these moments unbearable? It’s thoughts like…

I should be happy.

There’s something wrong with me.

It will get worse.

These feelings will never go away.

These BIG emotions fluttered in and out after my final reconstruction surgery. They were also fueled by the fact that during recovery, I was feeling very disappointed with the cosmetic outcome and also developed an upper respiratory infection that was accompanied by an intense cough…I coughed so much that I threw a rib out of place and vomited a few times. I was whiney, annoyed, and just wanted to get back to my normal life. I didn’t want to do The Work. I didn’t feel like doing movement. I’d curl up into my bed and cry. And then came in the above self-judgment and stressful thoughts.

How do you react, what happens when you believe that you should be happy, when you’re not? I am even more frustrated, ashamed, disappointed. I harden inside and want to close myself off from the world. I see images of the “old Bethany” who was peaceful and free – where did she go? COME BACK!!!! I don’t see the possibility of a happy future.

Who am I, feeling this way, without these thoughts? I’m here for me. I rock me through tears, I ask others to hold me. I feel the support of the bed. I tell myself that it’s ok, you’re doing great, and this too will pass. I am so sweetly connected with myself. These BIG emotions are welcomed and I let myself fully FEEL.

One night, I experienced what one might call an “emotional exorcism.” I was sobbing, hovered over the toilet and vomiting. My body was shaking…I felt 100% completely out of control. There was no choice but to surrender into grief. Grieving for the changes in my body and my life. My husband encouraged me to keep letting it go, which I did for what felt like hours. I awoke the next morning and cried more. I went to Acupuncture and cried through that as well.

And then, a shift.

I began to feel lighter, relaxed, at peace. My smile and sense of humor returned. Life looks sparkley again. I feel like myself again. I have more energy and feel excited and hopeful for the future.

For me, these BIG emotions could not be bypassed. It felt important and necessary for me to really feel them. Let them have a life. Let them move through me. And now that I’m on “the other side,” I can go back to inquiry ~ identify what I was thinking and believing ~ and continue to become enlightened by suffering.

BIG emotions are a natural part of life and the cancer journey. Suffering teaches me humility, connection, self-care, and the power of the mind.

So to the women who I judged at the cancer support group: I am so sorry. You are entitled to feel however you feel. There is nothing wrong with you. How can I help?

There are many ways to deal with emotions ~ venting it out may be the best way for you. For me, it’s often not enough. Feeling my way through it and questioning what’s beneath it is how I find the most freedom. What works for you?

With love & gratitude for ALL of the cancer journey (and that includes suffering),

~ xoxoxo Bethany

Join me for an upcoming event…

Yoga, Inquiry, & Gong Meditation: June 23

Exploring Mind/Body ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: July 8

Inner Peace Retreat ~ Yoga & The Work in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky: Sept 7-10


Related blog posts…

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

Self-discovery while in Recovery

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness





Inquiry: “Chemo is poisonous to my body” ~ is it true?

“You’re going to put poison in your body?” a good friend of mine innocently asked when I told her of my diagnosis and treatment plan. “Chemo only creates cancer and kills people” is what I heard from an “expert” in alternative care when I watched The Truth About Cancer on-line series in the beginning of treatment (you know, while it was coursing through my veins).

Seeing my bald head, an old man approached me while I’m was in the middle of a pedicure, “Are you in cancer treatment? My friend was too for xyz cancer and I was with him every brutal step of the way until the end of his life. Can I add you to my prayer circle?” 

CHEMO IS POISON.  Everybody says it, even some doctors. But have you ever stopped to really consider…is it actually true for you?

In case you haven’t noticed from my blog ~ The Work of Byron Katie has been THE most helpful tool in finding peace during my cancer journey. It’s a way to identify & question stressful thoughts ~ a way to notice the side effects of holding onto a belief and the freedom that fills your body & mind without it.

Stressful thoughts about chemo and conventional treatment came up often for me. A friend & fellow Certified Facilitator, Robyn Povich, facilitated me on the big kahuna thought, “Chemo is poisonous to my body.” After sitting in this meditation, I was able to walk (& often sleep) through treatment with clarity, peace, & even humor. I can honestly say that I ENJOYED much of my chemo experience ~ while I was IN it ~ not just went it was over. What???!!! Here’s how I got to this space…



Stressful thought: “Chemo is poisonous to my body.”

1. Is it true? (NOTE: the answer to the 1st 2 questions is a simple “yes” or “no.” ~ I’ve added mental commentary so you can see where my mind went)

Yes. (Look at how many people are saying it and remember all of the movies I’ve seen? I’ve read the list of side effects and attended the chemo class – HELL yeah, it’s true!)

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

No. (I can’t 100% know for sure that it is poisonous to MY body….hmmmm…)

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

I freak out. Pure panic. A warning siren goes off in my entire body ~ my stomach feels queezy, my shoulders climb up to my ears, my jaw tightens, breath shortens. I worry I’m making the wrong decision and I treat myself as an uninformed idiot playing into Big Pharma. I tell myself I’m doing it all wrong. I feel shame and embarrassment when speaking to others, especially my “all-natural” friends. I’m angry and begin to distrust my doctors ~ they don’t really want to heal me. I take the horror stories I’ve heard from others + the movies I’ve seen and project them into my own future ~ tragically dying young. I get a case of the “what-ifs.” What if they’re right – what if it will kill me?! Or even worse, what if there’s a lifetime of side effects making my quality of life pure shit…forever. I see no possibility of joy, only worse-case scenarios. I treat chemo like it is the devil – it’s out to break me and ruin every part of me – mind, body, and spirit. I see my body as sick and frail, unable to “handle” the poison. I see it seeking revenge on me by giving up and letting the cancer spread further. I’m a terrified, lonely, hopeless victim.

(Sounds like an ideal state for healing cancer, huh?)

4. Who would you be without the thought?

I am back at home in my body ~ I feel my breath…my body is relaxed and strong. I see how well I am doing ~ I feel courage, pride, and gratitude. I realize that I am not experiencing all of the horrible side effects that I heard about in this moment ~ in fact, I feel pretty good. And the side effects I do have (no hair, weight loss, tired, achey) aren’t so bad after all. I remember all of the amazing women I have met who have been through chemo and are living happy, healthy lives. I am more present and positive. I am able to share my treatment plan with others with confidence ~ I trust that I am making the right decision for me. I see my doctors as kind, caring, and truly on my side. I remember my oncologist’s words, “I think we can cure this.” I feel my breast and armpit and can feel the lumps getting smaller and smaller. I am grateful for medicine and scientific research. I see chemo as a gift, as a healing cleanse that is working WITH me, not against me. My job becomes much simpler: show up for the next treatment, relax, and receive.

(Ahhhh…what a relief. But the 4 questions aren’t enough for my mind – it needs more PROOF which takes us to the turnarounds.)


A statement can be turned around to the self, the other, and the opposite. Sometimes more ways and sometimes less. For each turnaround, find at least 3 genuine examples of how it’s true. For me, the turnarounds really serve to open my mind to so many new realities.

Stressful thought: “Chemo is poisonous to my body.”

TO THE OPPOSITE: “Chemo is not poisonous to my body” or the extreme opposite, “Chemo is healing to my body.”


  1. I have no solid proof that right now, it is poisoning my body. I only see images in my mind and they are not real. How can I know for sure what’s going on in there?
  2. I’m getting good reports by the doctors. I can feel my tumors shrinking. I still have white blood cells.
  3. It helps me to slow down and get plenty of rest, which supports healing.
  4. It is part of a treatment plan where 85% of women are cured of this type of breast cancer. And oh yeah, it’s called chemoTHERAPY…heheheee, forgot about the therapy part 😉
  5. I am still able to exercise, do yoga, go walking, work, eat, take naps, have sex, and even travel.
  6. It is a healing cleanse – it wipes the body clean of what no longer serves it.
  7. My healthy lifestyle is protecting my healthy cells.
  8. I am not experiencing crazy, horrible side effects ~ I never even threw up once.
  9. Because of the side effects listed, I am more motivated to support myself with healing foods, supplements, and exercise. I honestly think I am healthier!
  10. I know many women of all ages who have rocked through chemo and now live happy, healthy lives.

TO THE SELF: (note – when you are judging an object, the turnaround to the self becomes “my thinking” instead of “I”). “My thinking about chemo is poisonous to my body.”


  1. When I believe my stressful thoughts, my body is tense, panicked, not breathing fully. It’s in stress “fight or flight” mode which may not necessarily help the healing process.
  2. I continue to replay the stories I’ve heard from others in my head and gossip about it to other people. This reinforces the “poison” image and leaves me feeling frustrated, confused, and hopeless.
  3. I heard a story, I believed it. The label “poison” lives in my mind, not in my reality.
  4. When I go into an imaginary future of pain, suffering, side effects, and an early death.
  5. Chemo itself is innocent, it’s a clear or red liquid. It’s my thinking about it that creates suffering in this moment.

TO THE OTHER: “My body is poisonous to chemo.” 

(This one sounds weird, but I’ll try it on…)


  1. Ah ha! My lymphatic system collects and moves toxins out of my body ~ it then releases it through sweat, urine, or poooo….
  2. My body is strong and healthy; the healthy cells have continued to rock regardless of what chemo does. Maybe there are parts of my body that rejected chemo?
  3. Oh, I did 5 months of chemo and am still alive, in fact ~ I feel pretty great. And there’s no more cancer!

YAHOO: “Chemo is poisonous to my body!” Yahoo! Sometimes the non-traditional yahoo turnaround is available. It’s a way to look at your original thought ~ and assuming that it is actually true, how could this be good? How could this serve you?

(When Robyn mentioned this turnaround, my heart sunk a little. Eek! Then she pointed out the following example:)


  1. Chemo is poisonous to cancer cells. Isn’t that why you’re taking it?

(YES! One of the many gifts of working with a facilitator ~ they are often able to point out things that are hidden to the mind. Then I could find a few more on my own:)

2. It helps me stay really clear and consistent in my self-care ~ for me, this is a clean diet, daily movement, and taking my “mental medicine” ~ the work of byron katie.

3. It helps me to find all-natural cures for dealing with side effects (and sometimes I used medicine too) ~ check out this blog post for details.

Some additional thoughts that I have worked about chemo:

People who are evolved don’t choose chemo (or any conventional medicine).

People judge me for choosing chemo.

Chemo will give me a lifetime of serious side effects.

Chemo is making me too tired.

It’s been one year since I completed chemo. It just wasn’t poison for me; I actually gave it a new name: C-Love.

A friend once asked, “are you on the RD?” I had no clue what that meant. It stands for the “Red Devil” and is a nickname for the chemo drug called Adriamycin that is responsible for hair loss. I thought to myself…wait a minute, isn’t it the Red Savior? I mean, isn’t that why we’re doing this? Making friends with medicine is much kinder to me than fearing and hating it. And that may not be true for everyone.

Of the many C-Love selfies, these are my favorites!


And I sure as hell had a party when I was done. A full-on Nae-Nae dance party!

Right now as I sip tea in a coffee shop in Dallas, I am just SO grateful I chose this path. Once again, I got to see that the stories in my head were worse than the reality of it. I am humbled and no longer judge others for their choice of treatment. Everyone needs to do what is right for them ~ there is no one way to heal.

I’ve had many more thoughts about medicine as I went through surgery and radiation too. Even after treatment, my mind still comes in and tells me scary stories about the future…they are just thoughts and thankfully, they all have a home in inquiry.

I have been sharing this work in what I call “Mental Medicine” workshops at the Dallas Cancer Support Center and am working privately with clients who are recently diagnosed, have completed treatment, and/or have family members with cancer. It is SUCH a privilege, such an honor….to work in this space, from this space. I get it. I’ve been there. There is a way out of the suffering. And I’m still a work in progress too.

One friend who attended a workshop sent me this message:

“My experience this week (having her first chemo treatment) is a thousand times better than my thoughts about it last week. Thank you for all of your help and care!”

The work works. Now… where do you fear medicine? Are you willing to question your sacred beliefs?





Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Post Treatment, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

What if Fear is just a Fart?

I am truly grateful and blessed to be someone who can say the words, “I use to have cancer and now I don’t.” My latest CT scan showed no evidence of anything cancery in my body – cancer free baby! Cancer is over.

Or is it?

hellomynameisfearThe truth is cancer has come back many times….in my mind. The fear of cancer returning and returning terminally is a big practice for me. Yes, I’m aware it’s all mental and holy crap – it can take me for quite a ride! It’s like a vampire who sucks the joy out of everything. It’s the voice that says, “Don’t get too excited…What if…?”

And from the many women who I have connected with during this journey – I’m not the only one who experiences this fear.

Back in August when I was on my post-treatment celebration vacation, I attended a retreat in Quebec led by a friend & Certified Facilitator for The Work of Byron Katie, Tom Compton. Tom is amazing. I consider him to be one of those connected, special souls who was put on this earth to inspire others to live a fearless, joyful life, simply by being himself. Life has given him many surprises as well ~ his wife recently passed away from breast cancer.

Hearing him speak of his time with his wife as she transitioned inspired me ~ it showed me how death can be an intimate, heart-opening experience for a family. I also loved seeing how well he is doing ~ he moved to California and started surfing every day. He is happy and has somehow started to reverse the process of aging (he looks 20 years younger than the last time I saw him!).

What I have feared about death is how it will affect my loved ones, especially my husband. I shared this with Tom, and he said “it would break his heart. And then it would break it wide open.”

While I found comfort in his words, I also started to ask a lot of questions.

“How did your wife know the cancer had returned?”

As soon as the words left my mouth, my mind came in with, “EEK! Are you sure you want to know this? The answer is totally going to fuck with you. WARNING!”

And I still wanted to know.

He said that her stomach became very bloated and they found tumors all along the lining of it ~ from then, it was just a matter of time. I felt an immediate pain in my stomach. However, I acted brave and moved on to the next conversation.

So of course, naturally, for the first half of the retreat, my stomach became bloated. It was crampy. I started obsessively feeling it for lumps. Oh shit, this is it.

One of the main reasons I joined the retreat is to confront any remaining fear/unease around my cancer diagnosis. I could see that this was the perfect time for me to experience these sensations. It was happening for me. Throughout the retreat, I did a lot of inquiry on my fear of death, fear of having chosen the wrong treatment plan, and fears of my family suffering.

There was a lot of crying. It felt tender and kind to let the little terrified girl inside of me fully speak – fully express herself. I also felt very held and supported by Tom and the other retreat participants. It became clear that a bloated belly is not a problem – it’s what I’m believing about it that hurts. Cancer returning is not a problem. Death is not a problem. It’s the labels I put on them that create my suffering.

Then one afternoon, I took a bath. I looked at my bloated belly and caressed it. I wiggled my legs straight and began to lean into a forward fold. And then…something magical happened.

I passed gas for about 30 seconds…it was the longest wind relief I’ve ever experienced! I burst out with laughter – farts are always entertaining to me – I grew up with brothers and we have so many fond family fart memories. Did you know you can save one in a jar and give it to someone as a gift?

When I sat up from my forward fold, my stomach was flat and back to normal – my giggles turned into an overwhelmingly grateful big ol’ ugly cry. My fears. My terror. All along, it was just a fart. Then the next day, my menstrual cycle made an appearance after a 3-month hiatus.

So I share this somewhat mortifying story with you for a reason. How often have you experienced fear and it turned out to be absolutely nothing? Or maybe your fear came true, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

Maybe fear is just an entertaining, farty friend, inviting you to get out of your head, let go, and enjoy reality.

If fear still has a grip on you, I invite you to identify what you’re thinking and believing and take it to inquiry with The Work of Byron Katie. I would love to hear what you discover. xoxo



Inquiry: “The Cancer is spreading” ~ is it true?

Before and after my diagnosis in September, I started using The Work of Byron Katie like crack. Ok, so I’ve never tried crack but you get the gist. The Work, also known as inquiry, is a way to identify and question thoughts that bring stress and suffering to our lives. I’ve been practicing The Work since 2009 and became a Certified Facilitator in January of 2015. The certification training program itself has absolutely nothing to do with “how to teach the work” and everything to do with how to work on your own stressful thoughts in every possible area of your life: relationships, parenting, health, finances, work,  fear, criticism, body image, etc. Because I experienced so much relief and joy in everything I was questioning, I learned to trust this process of inquiry 100% ~ there was no longer a lost feeling of where to go when I felt upset, angry, lonely, frustrated…I always had a clear direction out of pain: do The Work.

And being diagnosed with cancer has given me the ultimate invitation to really live this practice.

I can’t even count the number of stressful thoughts that I’ve taken to inquiry during this experience, but there are definitely a few that stand out as incredibly life-changing for me.

images“The cancer is spreading”
has been a re-occurring thought, especially during the 2 weeks between my diagnosis and not knowing if it was stage 4. The first step of inquiry is to isolate a situation when I believed the thought. For me, this thought has come up multiple times: when I found a new lump in my breast, when the breast surgeon told me the cancer is “traveling” since it has reached my lymphatic system, when I felt intense pain in the back of my neck or other parts of my body, or when I would get a migraine…all of these situations are the same: I feel or hear something and that means…the cancer is spreading. For the purpose of this inquiry, I’ll focus on the 1st time I had this thought:


It’s a few days after my biopsy and the night before meeting with the breast surgeon for the 1st time. I’m sitting on the couch in my living room and my mom and husband are there. I’m feeling my left breast and notice a large new lump at the top of it and the thought hits me, “The cancer is spreading.”

So now that I’ve identified the stressful moment in time and the thought, I take this thought to inquiry with Byron Katie’s 4 questions and turnarounds. The Work is meditation, so I continue to meditate on the specific situation, ask the question, and await an answer.



Stressful thought: “The cancer is spreading.”

1. Is it true? (the answer to the 1st 2 questions is a simple “yes” or “no.”)


2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?


3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

I feel the lump and a huge wave of panic comes over me. My heart races, breath shortens, I feel a constriction in my heart and my throat. My shoulders hike up to my ears and I slouch forward to protect myself. I frantically begin to press on it and around it and convince myself it’s a new tumor. Immediately, I have an image of the future ~ the tumors continue to spread throughout my whole body at a rapid rate. I see cancer taking over my body, my life, my happiness. I see an early, sad, painful death. I feel helpless, hopeless, out of control, & absolutely terrified watching these images. I treat myself like a victim and then I start to bully me for not getting the 1st lump checked out sooner. I could have prevented all of this; it’s my fault. I ask my mom to feel the lump and I study her face. If she looks panicked, then I will panic even more. She seems calm but she’s just putting on a show so I don’t freak out. I can’t listen to my mom or Travis as they try to comfort me. They don’t know what it’s like. I feel separate from them. I’m angry and confused at my body ~ how could it do this to me? Then I turn to God ~ what the FUCK lesson are you trying to teach me here, asshole? I want to crawl in a hole and just cry and cry. I don’t want to deal with this and at the same time, I feel a huge pressure/sense of urgency to DO something NOW before my body becomes one big tumor.

4. Who would you be without the thought?

I’m sitting in the living room. It’s quiet, I’m comfortable on the couch. I feel the lump and I’m curious. It’s new and interesting. My mind is open and calmer ~ I see many possibilities: maybe it’s inflammation, a cyst, swollen lymph, who knows? I add it to the list of questions I have for the doctor tomorrow. The future looks simpler. I feel more at ease taking things one step at a time. Right now, relax on the couch with my family. Tomorrow, go to doctor. Without the thought, I still may show my mom and husband as an FYI and there’s not a dependent need for validation from them. I love that they’re both here with me now and in this process. I feel supported and connected to them, to me. My body relaxes, breath deepens, throat softens. I appreciate my body showing me the lump so I can learn more. I don’t give the lump a label either ~ it’s not bad or good or cancer or not ~ it just is. There’s even a hint of excitement with launching into this brand new journey of the unknown. Don’t know. Don’t know. Don’t know. Much more relaxed and at peace.



A statement can be turned around to the self, the other, and the opposite. Sometimes more ways and sometimes less. For each turnaround, find at least 3 genuine examples of how it’s true. For me, the turnarounds really serve to open my mind to so many new realities.

ORIGINAL THOUGHT: “The cancer is spreading.” 

TO THE OPPOSITE: “The cancer is not spreading.”


  1. It could be inflammation ~ I did just have a large biopsy needle & anesthesia needle poking into my breast multiple times a few days ago.
  2. It’s a swollen lymph node or a cyst ~ I’ve had many of these before and they felt similar to this.
  3. It could be fibrocystic tissue or a fibroadenoma which is not cancerous.
  4. I have absolutely NO PROOF at all that I am feeling a tumor. It’s just a story I put on a lump. I mean really, where’s my proof? I can’t see actual cancer. I can’t even feel it ~ I feel skin, something hard and bumpy.
  5. Outside of the situation, when the doctor tells me “the cancer is traveling” ~ she also said she didn’t think it has taken root anywhere else. So the cancer is not spreading according to the cancer expert as well.

TO THE SELF: (note – when you are judging an object, the turnaround to the self becomes “my thinking” instead of “I”). “My thinking about cancer is spreading” or what fits better for me is, “The cancer in my thinking is spreading.”


  1. Holy shit, this is MUCH truer ~ right now, the only place the cancer is definitely spreading is in my mind. In my imagination, my entire body is full of tumors until my painful death. Yet, the reality is that I’m on the couch, very much alive, feeling a lump.
  2. It’s the story I put on the lump that is creating my suffering and panic. Not cancer. These scary stories are multiplying one after the other, just like cancer cells divide and spread.
  3. My thinking uses images that I’ve seen in movies of painful deaths from cancer and I imagine it’s happening/going to happen to me. This is the start. I scare me by believing these images and thoughts.
  4. Even outside this situation, when I have a pain in my body and think the cancer is spreading ~ the cancer is only in my thinking in that moment too ~ I have no proof that the neck pain, migraine, stomach ache is cancer spreading. But I do know it’s spreading in my mind.

TO THE OTHER: “I am spreading the cancer.” 

  1. When I believe the stressful thought “the cancer is spreading” ~ my body reacts. It panics, heart races, caves forward, I’m in fight or flight mode, the body’s natural healing may be affected. So even though I see my innocence in going along with this thought, I can also see that if I don’t intercept thoughts like this with inquiry, I am creating quite a hostile environment in my body ~ and possibly an environment where cancer can spread more easily. So I can see where “I am spreading the cancer” could be true in a way.
  2. I spread the cancerous thoughts to my mother and husband by showing them the lump and labeling it as “cancer spreading.”

YAHOO: “The cancer is spreading!” Yahoo! Sometimes the yahoo turnaround is available. It’s a way to look at your original thought ~ and assuming that it is actually true, how could this be good? How could this serve you?

  1. If it has spread in my breast, it hasn’t spread very far from it’s original source.
  2. I am thankful I already have an appointment with the doctor tomorrow and she is an expert with cancer cells. She will share treatment plan options which can give me a direction.
  3. So I can notice that even if it’s spreading, I’m still ok in this moment. In fact, without my stressful thoughts, I feel at peace. Happy. Healthy. Sitting on the couch.
  4. If cancer continues to spread, I feel like I would literally be forced to live in the present moment. Which could be…awesome.
  5. The bullshit things that use to annoy me (my husband being late, dirty dishes in the sink, my mom worrying too much) melt away. What’s important is life, together, now and I don’t want to waste another moment not appreciating everything and everyone in it.
  6. So I can identify what I’m believing about the cancer spreading: “I won’t live a happy life. Cancer will kill me. My life is over.” These thoughts can be taken to inquiry and I can already see they are complete BS (hahahaaa, BS is a “Belief System.”)
  7. I am more motivated to really clean up my lifestyle even more…it’s actually exciting. Healthier foods, daily yoga, acupuncture, rest, nature, more inquiry, travel when I can…all with the intention of healing. Living in my own retreat. This sounds nice, actually.
  8. Cancer has a right to live. How do I know? Because cancer cells are living in my body. That’s reality. And it’s not my business when it leaves. But I can do my part: get the best doctors, show up for treatment, take care of my body, thoughts, emotions. Whether it spreads or dies is not my responsibility ~ it’s in the hands of the doctors, medicine, and universe. I can take care of the cancer in my mind, right here and now with inquiry and actually live in peace whether the cancer spreads or not. Wow.

After this inquiry, my mind was completely blown open. I had no proof of cancer spreading ~ it was all in my mind. And look at all of the examples of how my life could be better even if the cancer spreads? What would stop me from living that way now? Getting the best treatment. Eating the healthiest foods. Living in the moment. Loving others and myself unconditionally. Questioning stressful thoughts. Cutting out the BS. This is my prescription for happiness now.

The ironic part about this situation is that the lump disappeared by the time the diagnostic testing began on October 1st. I still have no clue what it was, but it served as a beautiful foundation for the power of the mind in this process. The thought “The cancer is spreading” has come up several times over the past 6 months. In fact, just last week I had a weird pain in the top of my thigh and I watched the thought try to fly in ~ the difference was that this time, I laughed my ass off about it. It was like, “oh wow, look at that sweet mind go…yet here I am with just a sensation in my leg.”And the thought left. And so did the pain. And I still shared this with my oncology nurse at chemo yesterday.

After the series of diagnostic testing on October 1st, the oncologist walked into the exam room and said, “Good news ~ the cancer has not spread to anywhere else in the body.” I’m not going to lie, there was an audible sound of relief for everyone in the room. We all had tears in our eyes; our bodies collapsed back into our chairs. It was a very special, moment that I will always remember.

And some people do not get this news. I am very well aware that someday I may hear that I am stage 4. If it were true, the process would be the same for me. I’m stage 4 and that means? Make a list of the thoughts that come up and question them. Find your freedom now.