Imagine a talented, driven and deeply imbalanced 22-year old woman. She’s a rising magazine writer. A champagne-guzzling, drug-poppin’, sleep-deprived, perpetually hungover party girl. Not a ton of self-esteem — but tremendous potential. And so much love to give — if she could only figure out how to love herself, first.
Now imagine that girl at the doctor’s office, discovering that her entire left arm & shoulder is riddled with cancer (a rare one called epithelioid sarcoma) — and that the only option (if she wants to survive) is full amputation.
That girl was me. Just over five years ago.
It’s hard to believe, because my whole life — my priorities, my values, my choices, the way that I listen to my body & nourish myself — is SO different, today.
Cancer: a death sentence or lifesaver?
“We’ve got the results of your biopsies,” my doctor said straight after he’d removed my bulky cast and replaced it with a smaller bandage. “… and it’s not good news I’m afraid.” I was confused. What the heck was he talking about? I stared at him with a blank look as he continued. “The results have told us that you have a rare type of cancer called epithelioid sarcoma.” I went numb. “It’s not treatable with chemotherapy or radiation, and there’s a good chance we will have to amputate your arm but this disease is essentially terminal.”
This was the sentence that summoned a dark cloud into the room and sent chills down my spine. In the space of about 20 minutes I’d gone from a happy and enthusiastic magazine writer, living the life I’d dreamt of for so long, to … a terminal cancer patient?
Thinking about that girl, terrified and alone as she was given the news that literally changed every element of her life, I find it difficult to recognise her as me. With cancer as my brilliant teacher, I shed all of the cloaks that girl was wearing as she tried to fit in with who she thought she should be, and transformed into the real me, the me I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to meet if it weren’t for such a powerful catalyst.
I didn’t have my arm amputated, I didn’t go down the route of endless poison and drugs, and I didn’t for one minute buy into my doctor’s presumptions that I would be dead within five years. I made the conscious decision to do absolutely everything in my power to take control of my situation and save my own life. In that moment, I became a cancer survivor.
I took my health into my own more-than capable hands.
I learned how to treat myself with absolute kindness & self-respect.
I radicalized my diet. I systematically detoxified my body — and mind.
I discovered that wellness isn’t a destination, but a loving (and unconditionally forgiving) relationship with your own body.
Now, I’m thriving – with or without cancer, I’m not too sure. I don’t have scans because none of them were able to diagnose me in the first place, plus I have 100% faith that my body knows how to heal, and I sure as heck have been giving it everything it needs to do so. Some call me crazy, but this has been the right path for me, and over the years I’ve become more and more confident in my ability to know what’s best for my body. I’ve been living the Gerson Therapy lifestyle for just over three years, and I plan on keeping it as my guidelines forever.
That frightening day that my world fell apart was the biggest blessing the Universe could have given me. Every day when I write my gratitude list, cancer is right at the top. It taught me compassion, patience, acceptance, strength, and so much more than words could ever describe. The lessons I’ve learnt and implemented have healed my body, healed my mind, made me a better person, a better friend, a better girlfriend, a better daughter, a better pug mother, and a better resident of this planet.
It’s my wish that “cancer” is no longer a terrifying word and no longer considered a death sentence. Instead of being spooked by it, I would love nothing more than for everyone who has this word delivered to them to consider it a wake-up call and a message from their body that it’s time to transform. More than that, I wish that we didn’t need for our bodies to resort to such drastic measures to get us to change our ways!
I’m living proof that doctors aren’t always right, that wellness starts in your mind, and that YOU are the most important authority on your own health & body.
. . . That wellness isn’t a destination, but an ongoing relationship with your own body. A loving relationship, built on kindness & respect.
. . . That cancer is often your body’s last-ditch attempt to get your attention — and demand some TLC.
. . . That starting to eat, move & live differently requires massive forgiveness and mental resilience.
. . . That life is supposed to be simple, easy & chock-full of miracles. We’re the ones who complicate things. And we’re the ones who can choose to change.
Jessica Ainscough describes herself as a writer, speaker, holistic health coach, cancer thriver, and creator of www.TheWellnessWarrior.com.au.
Terminal Cancer Transformed Jessica Into The Wellness Warrior – July 2013