I start to feel the weight of my cancer as my illness continues to progress and spread. I reach inward for assistance—to those healing voices that I have internalized for comfort and support. They are the voices of nurturing relationships— past and present— that I have internalized and made a part of me. This letter is written to Dr. Brian, my light touch chiropractor, who has become a key player on my treatment team.

Trust and the Need to Be Seen

April 21, 2014

Subject: 7:38 pm

Hi Punk Man [I am poking fun at Dr. Brian’s recent hair cut] … oops, I mean Dr. Brian,

After our session, I had a detox mud packing session with Samantha [Samantha is the alternative health professional whose mud packing protocol I follow].  Muscle testing revealed that my liver, kidneys, and right hand needed clearing.  [For more information on mud packing and detox click here.]  Then I came home and started to eat dinner and was hit with such a wave of fatigue that I went to sleep, and I just woke up.

It’s an enormous amount of work to keep this body alive and to try to heal.  If my brother were listening to me right now, he would say, “Laura, you are not Super Laura.  You are human.  What you are experiencing now is normal under these circumstances.  What is not normal is your potent energy and good spirits on many days.  You are so hard on yourself.”  I know I have told you that you and my brother have very different personalities, but in certain ways you remind me of him—mainly in your capacity to see me.  It’s interesting that you were commenting on all my different states, as few people see so many parts of me.  But you have this special way of holding space with kindness and patience that encourages all the parts of me to come out and greet you.  My brother, however, has known me for a lifetime, and you made me feel “seen” after our FIRST session.  I still don’t know how you did that.  I’m sure you don’t remember, but I do because it was so impactful.  It also scared me.  For a long while I had to be guarded around you.  I couldn’t really see you.  Now I feel like I have relaxed into our connection, and you and your office are a place where it is safe to just be.  Besides the obvious reason—the healing of my spine—that is why I look forward to our sessions: the connection and being able to just be.

This is a different stage in the ball game; I now feel the symptoms of the cancer on a daily basis.  Prior to this, I lived as if I didn’t have cancer.  Now the symptoms of cancer have invaded my life and altered my daily functioning.  I can’t dance because my liver is so swollen and my lung capacity is so limited, though I work with it every day as I best I can.  Other activities have also been curtailed, and managing pain has now become a part of my daily living.  

One of the ways I deal with these changes and the accompanying loss and pain is through the intimate connections I’ve developed.  Besides you and my brother, there are two other people I feel seen by—both female—my last psychotherapist, Christine, and my movement theater teacher from L.A., Catherine.  Christine would say, “What you are undertaking is huge.  Of course you are going to have ups and downs.”  And Catherine would say, “Be gentle with yourself.”  I have a long history with both these women.  They know me well and I have internalized them.  So, let’s see, what would you say to me?  The you that I have internalized would hold space with kindness and reinforce the positive and all that is healthy within me.

Now it is 8:19 pm.  I am writing slowly.  I still need to rebound [bounce on a rebounder], stretch, do a castor oil pack on my liver, and EAT.  As I said, it is a great deal of work, and I want to just get back in bed.  The exercise is so important—the hiking, rebounding, and stretching—because it reduces the pain and challenges my body to stay healthy.  If I were to just lie in bed, I would go down quickly.

So I’m learning to have more realistic expectations of myself.  I’m trying to be kinder and more gentle with myself and I’m using the strong bonds I have developed with certain people to reinforce me in this process.  I “hear” them talking to me with supportive language that reflects both me and their personalities.

I am adjusting as best I can to the increasing and ever-changing challenges of healing.  Trying to find acceptance and balance under very difficult circumstances.

Thank you for being such a strong support in my life,


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