It’s Fall again and the leaves are turning, offering us an invitation to play catch as they float to the ground, seemingly without a care in the world.
Every October, the focus is on cancer screening and the US and UK turn pink as we honor those affected by breast cancer. This year, the focus has shifted to screening and early detection for all types of cancer. Unfortunately, some people have too much anxiety to schedule a screening. If fear is getting in the way of booking a scan, the mind body tools shared in this article can help.
Amy Frost supports adults and children with cancer and their caregivers through Angels of Las Vegas. She became a Dallas Cowboys wife by marriage, and a Las Vegas Raiders fan by hometown, bringing the NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign into sharp focus for her. Every October, she says, the campaign prompts her to look at her own state of health and to schedule her yearly check-up. 2021 sees the NFL update their yearly campaign, Crucial Catch, to face not just breast cancer, but to raise awareness for all types of cancer, highlighting the importance of early detection and risk reduction.
Cancer screenings dropped during Covid
Initiatives like the NFL’s are more important this year than ever, since Covid put a stop to a lot of screening, according to the American Cancer Society, and we are even further behind than usual.
In the UK, the problem is similar: around 430,000 fewer people than normal were on an urgent suspected cancer referral during March 2020-February 2021, compared with the same time the previous year according to Cancer Research UK.
Following your intuition
Have YOU noticed any hints from unexpected places that things may not be quite right? Like Jan from Hampshire, UK, sometimes it’s our intuition that guides us. Jan was on a cruise ship with her husband Dave, when she just kept hearing a woman’s voice saying: “it’s all about the PSA you know, all about the PSA”.
So when Dave was due a doctor check-up, she said to him to ask for the PSA test. The doctor wasn’t at all keen to do this test, but she had primed her husband and told him to pretend he had been getting obvious symptoms, so they did the test. It was the ‘woman’s’ message to her that made her get her husband to make the call… and he was very shocked to unexpectedly receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, with not a symptom in sight.
Making self-care a priority
The following are some steps that can help you to make that screening call, receive a diagnosis and then if you need further help, gather your support circle, beginning with what we are calling the CRUCIAL CATCH Support Process: Care, Accept, Take Charge, Help self. This process will help you make self-care the priority it needs to be.
We all look out for others every day - be it our kids, our other half, a friend in need, our colleagues. We like to think that we are good at offering a friendly, non-judgmental ear, a warm hug, a knowing glance, a shared understanding, a soothing look.
So here’s a question you may never ask yourself - How are we when it comes to caring for ourselves?
When was the last time you offered a non-judgmental ear to your irritation with self over not accomplishing your to do list yet again? When did you last smile with self-support in the mirror…without shooting yourself a barb or two? Have you ever cheered yourself with a high five, instead of giving them all away to everyone around you?
Sometimes it’s good to sit down with yourself and accept that on an everyday level, you alone can’t save the world. Take five minutes, even just once a day, to reflect that some things are outside of your control. Take time to notice that thing, which is niggling you, that you are squashing to the bottom of your to do list… keeping super busy and constantly hoping that it will go away.
But it doesn’t go away. It may poke you daily, or nightly, reminding you that something isn’t right. It could be a pain, or as little as a knowing feeling…but you have kept yourself busy to avoid addressing it.
Time has passed by for even longer than usual in the last year or so, dealing with all the issues that Covid-19 presented the world… and US… yes us - or in fact YOU. It’s probably two or three times longer since you saw your doctor and were able to share your worries and book a scan to put your mind at rest or be able to take advantage of early detection. It’s more than time, in fact it’s way past time to make the call and focus attention on what is really going on inside you.
This is the time to make the most Critical Catch and call the doctor for an appointment. Here are some ways to help you take the action you need to, using mind body tools:
Mind body tools can ease the stress that leads to resistance
It’s at moments like this that you may need some help in taking action to make the critical call to intercept more pain further down the line, instead of giving the ball to fear and worry.
When it’s time to take action but you feel paralyzed, sit down, catch
your breath and receive a hug from the butterfly using the Soothing
Butterfly Hug – This popular tool was originated and developed by
Lucina Artigas. To do it:
1. Place your hands as shown
2. Flap your hands like the wings of a butterfly
3. Breathe slowly and notice the change
If you can’t do anything else, because even thinking about this ‘niggle’ sends you spiralling down with anxiety and panic, learn to consciously BREATHE.
Connected heart breathing:
Place both hands over the centre of your chest.
Breathe gently and deeply - imagine breathing through your heart
Recall a positive feeling of love, appreciation or gratitude
Continue heart focus/heart breathing for several minutes
If you don’t ever remember to do anything else to help yourself in the moment - then just think that you take in life force energy and take action every couple of seconds just by breathing!
Take time to share your worry with someone close to you. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, and after all you are always there for others, see if you can accept some help for yourself. Accept a hug from them, and when you aren’t with them try this exercise:
Simplified Self HaveningTechniques®, by Ron Ruden, Ph.D.
Cross arms, each hand on opposite shoulder
Pull hands from both shoulders down to the elbows, with firm but gentle pressure At the same time, hum a tune
Make the telephone call. Decide what time of day you are going to do this. Ask the person who you shared with to be there with you, if that will help you in the moment. Try this exercise just before you pick up the phone, to help wake up your senses, get the blood pumping and help get you ready to make the call. This is also a useful exercise after lunch to wake yourself up for the afternoon’s challenges, or before important exams or an interview.
Pound the center of your chest vigorously with a closed fist.
CALM YOUR ANXIETY
Now you are in the waiting phase, having booked your appointment. Each time you notice a panic or anxiety, try to calm yourself with the breathing exercise outlined above. Sometimes people get really angry and start thinking ‘Why me?’ Try the stress blow out exercise to disperse the tension and reset yourself:
Stress Blow Out
Lift both hands over head, clench fists hard
Take deep breath and hold it
Pull hands down fast, blow out air ‘WHOOOOSH’
Bend your knees, open hands when arms are fully extended
Repeat 3-5 times
Keep communicating with your accountability partner or friend, with whom you can feel you are not alone and praise yourself for loving yourself enough to share your worries. Mark the calendar with the scan appointment and make sure everyone knows that you will be busy that day. Ask someone to attend with you, so you don’t chicken out of going, and if possible get them to drive you there and back.
Once in the waiting room you can do this invisible technique to keep you calm:
Cross your arms
Hold for a minute
Switch & Repeat using opposite arm
Give yourself a High Five!
Having got through this part of loving yourself - notice how you feel now - having taken action.
Realise you may have just taken the most critical steps in your life… Congratulate yourself and celebrate your courage. Your team all around you will be very thankful that you did.
You may not have saved THE world, but you may just have saved YOUR world.
Amy Frost MBA, MA Spiritual Psychology, is a trainer, community
collaborator and facilitator. She has used tapping and energy psychology techniques in all her training, coaching and presenting for over twenty years. A long term ACEP Humanitarian and 2018 Humanitarian of the year. You can learn more at www.amyfrost.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Whittall is a Body Code Practitioner and Member of ACEP Humanitarian Committee email@example.com
Photo credit - Sara + Fall in Hampshire, UK: Sara Whittall
For more information on the above Mind Body Tools, including videos written instructions in English, Spanish and Portuguese, plus downloadable leaflet, visit Resources for Resilience - a project from The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology's Humanitarian Committee.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is educational in nature and is provided only as general information for stress reduction. It is not intended to create, and does not constitute a professional relationship between Resource for Resilience project team members or the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) and the viewer. It should not be relied upon as medical, psychological, coaching, or other professional advice of any kind or nature whatsoever.