Cancer and Language

There are two types of language that surround the cancer diagnosis. The language that the doctors speak to you in, and the language you speak with your friends about the situation. Both need to be minded carefully.

For example, whenever a medical provider referred to my situation as “Your cancer,” I would either wince, or I would gently ask them to not give me ownership of that situation. I mean, yes I had been given a diagnosis of stage 2 grade 2 cancer, but to me, it was going to be “out” soon, so why would I want to own that? Why would I begin to identify with this deadly disease that would soon be a part of my past? If you are a medical provider, consider the words you use and if those words could be programming an unintended relationship between the patient and the illness. My friend Michael Ellner wrote a book for health care providers called “Hope is Realistic” https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Realistic-Physicians-Patients-Suffering/dp/1478300477 several years back that gives more detail about the unconscious mind and how it is influenced by words-particularly words from medical practitioners.

And as a side note, another way the medical community can change lives is by NOT using male pronouns to refer to doctors and medical specialists. This goes from the pharmacists to the surgeons. It really does perpetuate a stereotype that continues to keep our young ladies from being seen as successful professionals.

The second type of language that we deal with is the language we use with our friends, and that they use with us. Most of the reasons given as to why friends back out of visiting or saying something to a friend or loved one who is stricken is that they just did not know what to say. So to those of you who are dealing with this situation right now, if you have a loved one or friend who is suffering, and you are avoiding them because you don’t know what to say, I say, don’t worry about it. Show up. Say nothing. Say “I don’t know what to say.” But show up. Bring a magazine, a juice box, a bouquet of weeds. It doesn’t matter. Just show up.

What about Friends?

For many, telling friends and family about a cancer diagnosis is a traumatic experience. In some families, as in my own, it might be prudent and preferential that older parents and very young children be spared the worry and stress of the unknowns of this insidious disease called “cancer”.

In my own situation, I carefully chose those people with whom I wanted to share the news. I had to tell some people because I was soon going to be in surgery and would need help regarding the fundamentals of post-surgical survival.

Fortunately, a few main people in my life stepped up and helped after every surgery I had. And to them I am eternally grateful. I am certain, however that I was alone more than I should have been and my life was damned uncomfortable at times.

So with the people that I confided in about the diagnosis, I asked of them to keep it quiet and not talk about it unless asked directly. This is just the way I wanted it to be. Every person who is diagnosed will have their own way of disclosing to relatives and friends that they are about to be at their most vulnerable. There is no right or wrong way to deal. In my program “From Diagnosis to Resilience,”  I guide you through many of the things that cause discomfort with guided-relaxation, self-hypnosis MP3s and self-realization/ self-soothing exercises. If you are someone who is struggling, I guarantee that it will bring you comfort if you use it.

The worst part about other people knowing to begin with, are the comments (although well meaning) and the information gathering that people close to the patient will do, and then share with the patient. Of course some of these revelations can be extremely helpful but others- well, others can impede decision making and cast self-doubt on every decision made. This can cause more trauma and delay important treatment.  That’s another reason why I recommend finding a navigation partner to help you schedule and gather information for your continued recovery. If you haven’t already, download my white paper entitled: “Ten Immediate Actions to Take if You are Diagnosed with Cancer.” This short paper offers invaluable information to the newly diagnosed patient. It will also be helpful for other serious diagnosis if you know of anyone who needs it.

Another very negative result of having others know that you have been diagnose is people’s natural propensity to want to share information with others who care about you; which on one hand is borne from compassion, but on the other, smacks of gossip.  The way I handled this was simple. I told only the people closest to me who had to know, and I asked them to keep it quiet until they were asked directly from anyone whom they knew would care.  For the most part, the only people who ended up inquiring about me to me were people who genuinely cared and wanted to help.

Make no mistake about it though, some friends disappeared, never to resurface again. It’s as if they thought that they could catch it  and got as far away as they could. My intellect tells me that everyone knows that one can’t “catch” cancer from someone who is fighting it, but for some reason people can’t handle seeing someone with whom they associate or relate to with it. I guess it hits too close to home–maybe it touches some fear or loss that is within them. So the response of some is to disappear, or get away and somehow excuse themselves. There is no good reason to judge them for it. It is a bit uncomfortable, however, to see them after recovery and know that this was the choice they made when you were so sick and needy. But life goes on and one must be able to forgive in order to get back into the workplace or the life from which you have been absent.  I chose to move forward with people by believing that they didn’t know why I was away. It comes down to the fact that most people are or will be dealing with something heavy, and nobody comes out unscathed. When struggling, I try to keep in mind that everybody is just trying to live their lives. Not only that, there are new friends to be made.

As Mark Twain once wrote: “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”


“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”–Mark Twain

When do you tell your friends and family?

No one can actually answer that question for you. Each individual is different and each type of cancer is different. Everything you decide about telling people will have to do with your relationship to the people around you, your career goals and the path that you are now on, and or course, your symptoms.

There are many questions that go through a patient’s mind about what to say and to whom to tell, or how to reach out and tell them. Give it some thought before you decide. If you have someone in your home who already knows about the diagnosis, discuss the situation and what is the best/worst scenario of letting the word get out, and to whom.

It may be necessary to keep this news from some people. You decide. If they don’t have a way to find out then maybe you don’t want everyone to know. It is possible to keep this to yourself if you believe that is what is best for you. The best thing you could probably do at this time is to put yourself first in this scenario—and throughout your treatment. In my program “From Diagnosis to Resilience” there are ways to do that which can help immensely and are discreet.

Eventually telling people may have to happen, but right now you control who knows and how much they know. Remember, a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. In other words, decide consciously.

The #1 Mistake that People Make when Diagnosed with Serious Illness

When a person hears the solemn words from a doctor that will change their life forever, something happens in their brain that initiates the flight, fight or freeze instinct. This is common to all humans as this is nature’s way of protecting the species. Unfortunately, it causes all sorts of problems for people in the modern world who now have to deal with a chronic illness on which decisions need to be made.  So it is not surprising that people make the biggest mistake — they isolate.  I know, it is very difficult to allow this news to wind its way home and to have to contemplate all of the intricate decisions that are needing to be made. It’s natural to keep the news private for a while as you digest this new situation, but its important to be careful not to isolate yourself to everyone who cares about you and anyone who could possibly help you. Consider reaching out.

From Diagnosis to Resilience

IACT and IMDHA are both reputable, international organizations with standards of practice.

It’s been several years since I’ve written a blog to this post and I think that because this is a fresh version of my web page, I should write a fresh update.

First of all, most of you who know me know that I was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2015. I want to say that hearing those words from a doctor is a startling experience to say the least.  So I had to take some time off (like the whole year) and deal with several surgeries and other things to get rid of the tumor that was growing inside of me.

I found that I had to use a lot of processes throughout this situation–processes that I knew from being a hypnotist and personal growth coach. Once I felt enough energy to thrive on my own, I began to see the need for me to use my pain to help others. I mean, that’s what we do- right? So I set out to bring the skill-set that I have from being —now a medical hypnotist, NLP master practitioner, personal growth coach and educator to create a program  for anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Creating this program has been a beneficial outlet for my own healing and I know that if you are diagnosed that it will help you too.

Personal Growth Coach -What do I do?

When people ask me what I do, I find it difficult to encapsulate in a short amount of time. So I’ve memorized an elevator speech, but it really doesn’t explain what I do or how I do it. And that’s OK most of the time, because that’s not what defines me anyway, but I feel like I could add value to another person’s understanding of  what personal growth is about if I just had more time to explain.

So one of the things I do best is help people make decisions.  Some people call my office usually because they want to make a decision that they are struggling with, or they want to make a career choice or love choice. Many people that I have worked with lately have been young men and some young women who didn’t “pay attention” to certain social situations in college or are just having trouble with decision making. So what do I do? I use NLP and or hypnosis along with the three core coaching questions to help guide them into finding their way with their own inner wisdom. I offer an MP3 called “The Inner Adviser” that is custom made and incorporates a person’s own “map” to assist in visualization and well-formed outcomes. We determine what vocabulary and device to use based upon our time and discussion together. I believe (and I’ve seen the evidence that  it’s true!) that people have their own answers and all they need is to get in touch with that inner voice to find what those answers are.  Sometimes it can be done in two to four sessions, but sometimes it takes longer, depending on the situation. I always teach my clients one or more meditation strategies that can be learned easily but must be utilized in order to be beneficial.

So my elevator speech? “I help people identify their goals and take steps to reach them by providing them with motivation and accountability. I use hypnosis, self-hypnosis and NLP to get them there. I get results for people as they find their own fabulous-ness.”

Let’s get quiet and go inside…



My Introduction to Hypnosis

Hypnosis was always an interest of mine but became a profound element of my life when my second child was born within an hour of arriving to the hospital and with really very little actual pain.
Had I known then what I know now, I could have done it virtually pain free. I would have tweaked the cassette a little bit and been slightly less intimidated by the process. Heck, had I known then, I would have dropped my first one after a few hours of productive labor as well. True to form though, I was scared and tense the entire time (to say the least) and I felt every twinge and contraction as I battled the progress of the labor. My son was born 3 years before my daughter, with a drawn out, painful birthing experience that went on for 22 hours and ended in Caesarean section that took weeks of recovery.
I am not here to tell you that you can have your baby pain free, but I can tell you that you can limit the stress that you feel and approach the inevitable birthing process with at the very least the confidence to make it a tremendously positive memory.
With my clients, I find out about what their strengths and interests are and I use these to help write a script to use throughout the last trimester. By hearing your own voice as you lull yourself to sleep, your brain absorbs the information in a nonthreatening, productive way and begins to make a shift at the most primal level.