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The Psychological Aspects of Cancer Deserve a Prominent Place in Homeopathic Treatment
The psychological aspects of cancer deserve a prominent place in homeopathic treatment. In this article, I describe some of the aspects that I experience in my practice.
When one is diagnosed with cancer, he or she is immediately confronted with the end of life, having to say goodbye to life However, this sentiment is not merely reserved for the concerned person but also the caregiver. The latter is forced to deal with questions such as “how could this happen to me,” “what do I want to do with the life I may have left,” as well as more pertinent queries in relation to treatment options and chances of survival.
As a treating homeopath, one experiences different feelings. On the one hand, there is the issue of responsibility, which gives rise to questions such as can I sufficiently assist and help this fellow human being, and what are the treatment possibilities and life chances? On the other hand, a demand exists in relation to my professional capabilities and experience.
Besides purely medical matters, the above-mentioned situation is about quality of life, life and death, meaning and resilience. The way in which each person deals with it is very diverse in nature. Usually, the client is completely imprisoned by the diagnosis. Encapsulated is a relevant metaphor for this situation. Trapped by fear, uncertainty or sadness. During the first consultation, I often do not even get around to an extensive anamnesis, medical history, and biographical research. This often lends me a feeling of inadequacy, as everything revolves around cancer, grief, and loss. Everything revolves around that few millimeters of tumor tissue and loss of faith in the rest of your own body. Taking the time for this is essential.
Kübler-Ross' 5 stages of grief in her book Life Lessons are very useful for care providers. Even though the mourning process is different for everyone, knowledge of the various phases (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) offers the therapist and the individual directly involved not only insight into the various emotions that are of a general nature, but also feelings that are very personal, characteristic and individualistic. It is clear that this procedure requires patience. For example, if after half an hour, the person is already working on solutions or getting better, the phase of recovery seems to have started, but it can also be a form of denial.
My experience suggests that patients generally come alone, but in cases of cancer, they are usually accompanied by their partner, family member or friend.
The Kübler-Ross model of mourning is useful and recognizable in every emotional reaction to a personal trauma or change.
Denial: is actually a form of self-protection. The problems, the feelings, are still too great. Give the patient time to talk about everything. The man with lung cancer cannot believe that his years of smoking have contributed to his illness.
Anger: when the truth has dawned on someone. It is often accompanied by feelings of guilt. What have I done wrong? The individual is not only angry at the cancer but also at the therapists and the environment. Looking at yourself is still too big a proposition, preferring to put the blame outside oneself. As a practitioner, be aware that it can also be directed at you. According to the patient, you have not been able to do enough. Do not start defending yourself, but view it as a step toward getting to the pain.
Negotiation: you promise to do something, for yourself, if there is improvement in return. This process is often very invisible. If I had done this or that, then......
Depression/sorrow: when reality becomes clear, feelings of sadness, fear, guilt, and insecurity emerge. This stage involves feelings of futility and despondency.
Acceptance: feelings of resistance and disbelief are let go. By facing the situation making a choice in favor of life or death, involving those around you, and looking for solutions, grace comes to the surface, a deep connection with life is forged, and destiny is accepted.
Acceptance is a very important turning point. Acceptance is essential, as it imparts peace and could prove to be the foundation of a new life. This is when the fight seems over. The tumor/the cancer process is no longer just outside you, the big villain that has turned everything upside down, “but it is mine, it is me, and it belongs to me.” Life can go on “anew.”
Also, because of the significant medical maneuvers of radiation, chemotherapy, and removing the tumor, it is sometimes very difficult for the person to view the cancer as something that belongs to him or her, and then to be able to look at it again without blame, recriminations, etc.
In addition to sound homeopathic knowledge, the guidance of people with cancer requires knowledge of pathology and the various treatment methods such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Issues such as nutrition and lifestyle often come up. How can I strengthen my health in addition to treating the disease. My homeopathic tumor therapy consists of homeopathy, supplements, nutrition and, as I call it, self-understanding and self-examination.
Can we guide our cancer patients from being “victims,” with the fear of death and the prospect of dying looming, sometimes even making them paralyzed, to actively working on health, taking charge of the healing process? Can we make it clear to our clients that this challenge, apart from the final result or, as is often the case, living for years on end with a dormant tumor, is a personal development path. It is a search that involves coming to terms with a life lived or not lived. Often themes such as guilt, abuse, poor self-image, prolonged stress, unresolved conflicts, hatred and anger or, on the contrary, great sensitivity come into play. A search for the meaning of life, what do we want to live, both socially and spiritually. A process that can bring insight and healing not only to the person involved, but also to the practitioner. You may have noticed that I use several different names for the person afflicted with cancer: person involved, client, patient. The word patient continues to cause problems. The word “patient” still has its inherent connotations. But it is precisely in tumor therapy that personal control is essential.
Over the years, it has become clear to me that the cause of cancer is multicausal, a combination of lifestyle, heredity, disease history, constitution, and trauma. This means that the treatment must be diverse in quality. It requires a great deal of flexibility from the homeopath, especially as treatments overlap, a broad interest, and an inquiring mind. For me this is a daily challenge, an invitation to self-examination and self-reflection.
Being a homeopath means always keeping the focus on recovery or, if the tumor process continues, on improving the quality of life, even though death is sometimes very near. We should not deny the fact that we are mortal and engage those activities that revitalize the soul and promote recovery.
Sometimes death is so close that I become discouraged as a therapist. I am forced to ask myself, “what can I still do for this person?” Then it dawns upon me that I need to focus on restoration and let myself be led by a prognosis of how much time people have before they die. The intention to heal must always be leading. The process of predicting death is, in my opinion, not only not feasible but also without benefit.
It is clear that treating people afflicted with cancer is not only an enormous challenge for the concerned individual but for the homeopath too. It requires involvement but at an appropriate distance: adequate space for rest and self-care. It provides useful insights about life and death, being able to mean a lot to others, and also being able to ask for support from colleagues, because we too cannot do it alone.
31 March 2021 (online)
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