When I was a young single mother with two children under 10 years old I developed breast cancer.

I knew from reading Louise Hay's book "Heal Your Body" that the mental cause was deep resentment relating to nurturing. She always tells us to think about the part of the body affected by illness or injury and in terms of its function. The breasts are for nurturing.

So I quickly scanned my life to see where there might be a problem with nurturing. I could quickly see that I was nurturing others very well--BUT NOT MYSELF!

  • I was the single mother of two young children.
  • I was the founder/director of  a 42 child federally funded Montessori day care center for shoe factory workers,
  • I had a 14 person staff to manage.
  • I was working 70 hours a week on average.
  • I had numerous low-income day care parents to nurture
  • I was on four social service boards.
  • I was the chairperson of two.
  • I had a selfish boyfriend.
  • I was taking women into my own home who had gone homeless.
  • I was busy organizing a cooperative housing project for some of  the families who used the day care center 
…And I was wracked with guilt all the time that I was not doing enough for others.

Could this have anything to do with the fact that I had experienced paternal incest from ages 1-13? Duh!

Somehow, sexual abuse leaves many of its recipients with deep feelings of guilt--projections from the abusive parent? I don't know. But I do know, now, that guilt sews the seeds of all kinds of life-problems --not just health issues. It brings financial problems and homelessness in its wake oftentimes as well.  And I experienced that a few times over my life as well--despite having been raised in a solidly middle class home that always provided enough food, shelter and physical warmth, but very little emotional warmth. Suicidal feelings and even a few attempts marred my life as well.

My father ignored me most of the time--except when he was sexually exploiting me in the middle of the night. I learned to dissociate during these horrifically traumatic episodes. Because of that I completely "forgot" all of the abuse until I was age 38!

The first hint I got of the incest was during a "Rebirthing" session. There was a huge terrifying black male being loomed over me. He was going to take my soul to the other side of the Universe for ever and ever. I stopped breathing, turned blue, my heart stopped (vegeled) and I literally was dead for a few minutes!

 The person who was leading me through this exercise was not well-trained and unprepared for this. I have since learned how to do a similar process myself--but SAFELY.  It CAN be useful if done with full precautions. But in any case, I suddenly came to, started breathing and screaming. I had never been so soul-terrified in my life. I thought it had something to do with my current boyfriend--with sex. But I couldn't connect the dots that led back to my father. 

Then a couple of months later the person who had led me in the dangerous rebirthing session urged me strongly to take an "est" seminar (Werner Erhardt's controversial personal growth seminar). She had stopped doing rebirthing after our dangerous debacle. Now she had moved onto "est." I refused her invitation several times, but she and her new est friends were highly trained in never taking no for an answer. They even gave me the course for free!

So I went to Boston to do the weekend "training."During one session one of his male "trainers" hypnotized all 450 members of the audience and "suggested" that we return to a traumatic event.

WHAM! I was right there--back with the HUGE black being who was the essence of all that was EVIL in the Universe--the same being I had encountered in the rebirthing session. This was again deeply soul terrororizing. I screamed and jerked backwards to get away, and literally fell over backwards in my chair. I suddenly knew that the being was my father and that he had sexually molested me. It was unbelievable to me--and yet I was sure it was true. And I was also sure that my mother had known about the abuse and had allowed it to go on for 13 years! That was almost harder to take than the abuse itself.

As difficult as these two traumatic recalls were, they were SO worth it. I cannot explain how cathartic it was to suddenly know the reason behind so many of my difficulties in life. I did a lot of self education. I just wish I had had more sympathetic and wise people around me, to support me, when I recalled this important information.

The events that those two incidents helped me to recall were directly associated with the development of breast cancer in me. For it was in my early childhood that I developed the belief that to survive I had to be of service to others—to give them whatever they wanted. To put others first and myself last — just to survive. I also absorbed the guilt of my abusor, and guilt always requires punishment. So I punished myself by not giving myself what I needed, but instead I gave it to others.

 I was not only being used sexually by my father, but emotionally by mother, who used me as a sounding board for her endless woes with her alcoholic husband — my father.  

But the belief that I had to allow myself to be endlessly used by others was the belief I developed. It was still active when I was a young mother running the day care center.  But, while it MAY have helped me to survive my childhood, it was an incorrect belief to carry into adulthood, I now know.

I now believe that it is crucial to one’s mental emotional and physical health to put one’s self first. It is enlightened self-interest. It is like the story of how passengers on airlines are instructed to put oxygen masks on themselves first, then their children. We can’t be of service to others unless we are taking care of ourselves first. But at the time I was running the day care center I did not understand this. And although I was consciously not aware of any anger or resentment towards all of the hundreds of other people I was nurturing, some subconscious part of me was most definitely feeling that. I had had no childhood.  I had gone directly to caring for others and now as an adult my inner child was screaming for attention. But I thought it was wrong to pay attention to her. So I ignored her feelings just as my parents had – and ended up with breast cancer.

But I did heal it! How did I do it?

While it was helpful to uncover the terrible truth beneath my guilt and the terrible pressure I put on myself to help others--especially children (projection)--I do not believe it is necessary.  I really only needed to feel the awful feelings of over-doing it -- right now.

So, as I stated, the cancer was brought on by the fact that I was caring for everyone else but my self--my own inner child. She rarely had any fun. And my adult masculine side (which everyone has) was having FUN achieving his goals in the material world. There I was a success. I was helping others. I had power to make things better--including being appointed by the governor to the Maine Human Services Council. Within that board, I was a member of the powerful 3 person finance committee. We had the authority to say yay or nay to all of the many millions of dollars that Title IV-A brought to non-profit organizations in the state. This included day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals etc. We had responsibility for all of the non-profits in the state of Maine. Through that position I was able to help out low income people in effective ways. So my male achiever - self was happy as a clam. 

But then cancer arrived on the scene. I had studied enough spiritual healing to know that I need to respect it as a sacred messenger. It was a tall order, but I did manage to find a place in me that trusted that this was true — and that this cancer-messenger was actually a blessing!

So, I knew enough to give thanks for the messenger.

But first before trying to go there, I had allowed myself  all of my feelings, including  the terror and sadness I was feeling about the cancer—and about my life! This took some time – and many tissues.

Eventually, though, I was able to thank The Great Mother (my name for the Creator) for the situation. I blessed it with unconditional love--well sometimes anyways--other times it was more like just barely acceptance. lol. But it turned out to be enough!

Here are some of the specific ways I changed my belief about serving others:
1.     I started using an affirmation--a mantra-like positive statement-- "I deserve to put myself first. I deserve to have childlike fun and REST!"
2.     Then I acted on it. I got off all the social service boards. And I resigned my position as director of the day care center.
3.     I took a leap of faith that if I let go of the false security that a good job provides, that I would find a more real security in being in alignment with my deepest Self my God-Self.
4.     I began to sleep a lot more.
5.     I continued to allow feelings to come up freely.

 In fact, that was when I brought making art back into my life. I had been an Art/psych major in college, but had dropped the art when I got married. After the divorce I was still "too busy" for such "frivolous" activities. But now I realized it was not frivolous at all. It was important and crucial to the happiness of my inner child that I allow her a little art play time most every day.

I also started playing the piano again--just improvising freely--as I did when I was a child--making up songs. I also started to spend more time in Nature--just walking, looking, touching, smelling, swimming, skating--whatever my body enjoyed. At first I would find myself thinking about my problems a lot while I did these things. But I soon realized that was killing the joy that was available to me. So I learned to focus just on the beauty of the nature around me and less on my negative thoughts. I developed a sort of walking "quiet-mind” meditation.

It may sound like a lot to do--but it really took little effort. And I healed very quickly. The tumor disappeared within a few weeks.

 And perhaps best of all, I discovered that I really could rely on The Universe--The Great Mother--to support me while I let go of earning money. There was enough support for me and my kids to live on while I recovered my balance. And then I was able to go back to working in a much more relaxed, reasonable and gentle way.

My kids are 43 and 46 now. I am 68.  And the cancer has never returned.

Soon after my self-healing I began to do counseling work and to share my self-healing process with many others. And it worked for many of them too! Even with so-called “terminal” cancer. So I have found my true work--thanks to the cancer--and the work was not just caring for others--as I love to do--but it is first of all caring for myself!