Archive for the ‘Capturing learning’ Category

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

We can recover.

The sun rises every morning and one day follows another.

We can be confident in that.

And as time moves forward, so things change.

Slowly at first, imperceptibly, until we gradually realise that we are changing too.

And hope appears on the horizon.

Norman Wright outlines 3 stages of recovery:

  • The Thinking Stage: This is when you face the facts. You put the pieces of your jig-saw puzzle together to try to make sense of the picture. You go over what has happened in minute detail, alone and with friends. You are a detached observer rather than an emotional participant. For me this was hours and hours searching the internet to learn all I could about breast cancer. I wanted to know every detail and I wanted to understand the numbers and the risks.
  • The Emotional Stage: This is when you feel the pain. Your emotions well up from deep within you and spill out in a stream, a river, a waterfall. There will be anger, anxiety, grief, fear, sadness. For me this was a constant leaking. I cried almost every day, many times a day, for three months. Tears welled up as I recognised the layers of consequences of what was happening to me. I stopped crying when I started the blog.
  • The Stage of Mastery: At the beginning you cannot believe this stage will happen but it does. Your perspective changes, you find value in your experience. You have learned things you could not have learned in any other way. You become a survivor rather than a victim, taking control of the direction of your life again. Your outer journey may still be very challenging, but you have found a strength for the inner journey which transforms your experience. Laughter can reappear, with all its healing power.

The stages vary in length for each person, and they can overlap.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


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Scary – isn’t it?

A whole new horizon – and no markers in the sand to say ‘THIS WAY’

This is how I feel as I begin my journey beyond breast cancer.

And yet there is warmth in the sun and the breath of life, and boy does it feel good.

I am thankful to be alive.

6th October marks the anniversary of the day my life changed when I was told I had breast cancer. This is my week of transition when I step off the bridge.

Please come with me on this new journey.

I look back at the things we did before my year of breast cancer treatment. We had workshops on Spiritual Journalling, Touching the Edge of His Cloak, Listening to God’s Heartbeat. We joined the Benedictine Monks for retreats, and we spent a season Listening to God’s Heartbeat.

And now we can also look back on a long slow year exploring a journey with God – making breast cancer an opportunity to get to know God better.

I would like to keep learning and keep sharing – and to do this I value your help.

We have a Celebration on 16th October. BC and I are thrilled at your enthusiastic response. Please let us know if you have missed an invitation and would like to come.

And after the party, I want to build again on the foundations we laid. I value your feedback on two questions:

  • FIRST – I would like to run another WORKSHOP or RETREAT in the New Year? Are you interested to join me, and if so, what topic would you like?
  • SECOND – I would like to start another blog. This would be about what it means to have life to the full: taking John 10:10 and exploring what that means in our lives day by day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full

Please let me know what you think. You can comment in the usual way by clicking on the comments tag at the end.  Or you can email me directly.  The next post tells you how to do that.

And about the new header to my blog. I took this photo after one of my early morning radiotherapy treatments. Sitting in the peace of a summer morning, I recognised how much the obstacle of treatment had become an opportunity to listen to God. What do you think – do you like it or did you prefer the orchids?

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If those of us who are suffering loss in some form find it difficult to make sense of our own emotions, how much harder is it for those who try to help?

We have all been there – hurting for our loved ones, desperate to help, frightened of saying the wrong thing and yet not knowing what the right thing might be.

The simplest guidance I can give from my own experience and from listening to others is:

Talk less and listen more.

We worry about saying the RIGHT thing – and yet until you have listened very carefully and taken time to understand what has happened, how the person feels about it, and how much they want to tell you, whatever you say is unlikely to be helpful.

Grief is a long journey through a tangled maze of emotions. So don’t expect too much from yourself or from the person who is grieving. The journey can take a long time.

Ball of Grief - a tangled ball filled with emotions that a person in grief experiences

This diagram comes from a book by Norman Wright, a certified trauma specialist and counsellor . He has written over 70 books covering topics like bereavement, crisis management, divorce and relationships. He offers compassionate and practical ways to give comfort and support.

When my friend’s mother in law died she and her husband found themselves struggling with their relationship with their newly bereaved father.  This book gave them the understanding they needed and helped them to help him. It contains chapters about ‘How to be a miserable helper’, ‘If you want to help, listen’, ‘Understanding a friend in crisis’, ‘Helping a friend in crisis’. And, if you prefer to write a note (which is always a good idea), it gives sample letters of what to say and how to say it.

For an interesting read today, click here to read an article on What not to say to someone with cancer, reproduced on the Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer blog.

Go ahead, make my day!

And, as a little aside, the internet is full of wails from women who are losing their hair from chemotherapy. They wail almost as much about the endless comments on their appearance, as about losing their hair. So, although the most obvious thing to comment on is how we look (and it is very, very difficult not to comment) have a go at trying very, very hard not to say anything. 🙂

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Herceptin 3 – just another session on the chemo couch.

My name is on the IV stand beside the place that has been prepared for me – I settle for the 90 minutes of my visit.

I am pleased to see the staff – they are important to me. The expression on their faces matters. They are busy.

I pray the Jesus Prayer, and I pray my icy water prayer.

And I read my book – The Devil and Miss Prym. Paulo Coelho explores whether the heart is fundamentally good or evil. What would you say?

And on the way home this obstacle to my life and my routine gives me an opportunity to pass the Garden Centre.

I buy some flowers for our front door. The Heuchera is called Guardian Angel 🙂

As I walk among the plants the Proclaimers sing out of the radio – I stop to listen . . . . I’m gonna be . . . .

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Can this be true?

It has taken a while but we did it this evening – we watched the movie Sex and the City.

Sex and the City

This is thanks to Lisa who spoke about the film in her blogmy life by faith – and debated whether or not christian women would or should watch the movie.

The story is about 4 women looking for Labels and Love in New York. It dramatizes the challenges facing single women who are trying to balance personal ideals with professional careers.

Having listened to women talking about their lives for many years, this film is very relevant.

In a blaze of colour and wonderful outfits the movie  tells stories of friendship, faithfulness, communication, sex, marriage, disappointment, and forgiveness.

Marriage ruins everything, says Miranda as the lives of the four friends unfold.

Thank you, Lisa – I agree with you. The more christian women (and men) talk about this together the better.

How about it?

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Why the silence?

This is my longest gap between posts since I started the blog, and I missed you.

I have just returned from a 6-day training course and I could not get reliable internet access while away. The course was about language in action. It is my treat to myself as part of my preparation for moving forward beyond breast cancer. More about that later.

City of Words by Vito Acconci

The way we use language has a powerful effect on ourselves and on our interaction with others.

The connection between language, thought and reality is made by the definition of words

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Change your thought and you change your world

Norman Vincent Peale

So why spend 6 days learning about what language means to us and how we use it? . . . because I am curious to explore every aspect of what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

How I use my thoughts and words affects my relationship with myself, with others and with God.

Tomorrow I travel to spend some time with my family in Scotland. You will find me in the Quiet Zone of the train heading north – my head buried in the course manual. What a treat!

As I move forward beyond breast cancer I have a lot more learning to share.

Oh, and by the way, I had my second Herceptin today.

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Never underestimate the intelligence of your immune system.

Have a look at this short clip of a white blood cell chasing tiny bacteria in the blood stream.

Our immune cells are clever little things that are part of an amazing emergency network. They recognise and destroy anything that is not part of our own body – the ultimate loyal and effective defense army.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

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