It was five years ago when cancer crashed into my life, uninvited and unwanted. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I cried. After the initial shock faded a bit, I shifted into gear and made a decision to treat the news and myself with LOVE. Instead of seeing it as a battle to be fought, I looked at cancer as a message to decipher, a lesson to learn.

Thank God I have a therapist and thank God I’m cancer-free today. Even though I’m a psychotherapist myself, I had just begun to work with a new therapist. It took several months of trial and error to find someone and I was grateful I persevered in my search.

Psychotherapy has the power to unburden your soul and free your spirit. It can help you develop your intuition and process trauma. And don’t forget the day-to-day s**t that happens to us all. Everyone needs someone to talk to!

I examined my life to find a reason for cancer. I knew I wasn’t being punished, yet I felt shame about old resentments, eating the “wrong” foods, and storing plastic bottles of water in my car. In addition to cleaning up my diet, I knew I had some emotional debris to clear. Awareness of where I had come from led me to awareness of where I wanted to go.

Cancer taught me to love my body. I began to pay sharp attention to all aspects of self-care: emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. I set an intention to treat myself and everyone around me with lovingkindness. I started juicing and eating organic foods. I practiced allowing my feelings to surface and feeling them without judgment. I noticed how focusing on breathing, sensing, and being. rather than doing could shift uncomfortable feelings to self-acceptance.

Individual therapy, meditation, and cancer have helped me reap the benefits of turning inward with compassion. The Cancer Support Community in Los Angeles gave me the opportunity to try support groups, the mindfulness practices of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Gyro Kinesis, and Feldenkrais movement. As a cancer survivor, I can access this support for the rest of my life. This is another one of cancer’s gifts to me.

Whenever I criticize myself, I remember that what I focus on expands. I understand that my thoughts are powerful and, at the same time, they are only thoughts and can be changed.

Sharing my burden with a trusted therapist continues to bring peace, heal trauma, and inspire creativity.