The gift of cancer: being present in your life

Design Katrien Riks

Design Katrien Riks

Hi lovely,

I believe that every experience in life can teach us something. Even something like cancer. I am inquisitive, an explorer and I like to look for meaning in everything that happens to myself and others. I don’t do it in a very analytical way, but I listen to my body, my intuition to "know" and "experience" what is happening. The same for an illness like cancer.

I was diagnosed the 17th of April 2015 with lymphatic cancer. The specialist told me that I had a lymphatic node that was transformed in a tumor of 10 centimeters in my chest behind the heart which was causing all the strange symptoms I was suffering.

The tumor caused a pulmonary embolism and I noticed that because I had a chest pain, a strange dry cough and a very rapid heartbeat. I was gasping for breath at every sentence I spoke.

This was the whole reason why I went to the doctor several times and finally to the hospital who found out about the cancer after a CAT scan.

Two hours after the CAT scan I was sitting in a room with my partner and children and my future oncologist. He told me very directly: "You have a malignant tumor and it is treatable".  My partner started crying, while at the same time, the children where not very aware of the conversation as they are only 6 and 3 and where just chatting about their things.

I looked out of the window and asked the doctor: “Are you telling me that I have cancer? I am a healthy woman of 39 years old. I have never been ill, even when everybody has the flu, I am ok.” And my next question was: "What can I do to heal from this? I have a strong body, I have always done excercise. That counts right?”

Then my next reaction was: "Why now? Now that I have just having my own practice space? Now that I have 11 sessions planned for the next week?” I was feeling angry because it felt like I had worked so hard for my business and now, because of this cancer I could not give these sessions in my new practice...

Because of the pulmonary embolism I had to stay in hospital for 10 days after which they started with the biopsy and 5 days after that, I received my first chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses your body's own immune system to help fight cancer.

These days in hospital where crucial for me. I was forced to face the illness and my first night in hospital I started to think about my cancer.  I thought: "If the tumor is behind my heart I need to be able to receive. I seem to give a lot but I am hardly able to receive." The next day I decided to go public and I wrote that I was diagnosed with cancer on my facebook wall.

I received an immense response of love and warmth from many friends, connections and family. Many times I felt disconnected from other people, but for the first time in my life I felt I was part of a community and that people really cared about me. You can feel that people care about you but only in essential events in life and I experienced that in a very intense way that day.

This was my first lesson cancer taught me: that we are all connected. Many other insights have followed. This is why I call my journey of healing from my disease a gift. "The gift of cancer".

I have made cancer my teacher from which I can learn. Having cancer has given me a message, a signal, that something between the connection of my body, my mind and my soul is out of balance. I saw my cancer as a signal to rebalance the connection between body, mind and soul.

My journey was a spiritual one. I listened to the signs of the illness and learned to be more vulnerable and authentic. I was gratful to be able to apply everything I have learned in Rebalancing Bodywork Therapy to this critical event in my life. 

What I felt was an incredible sense of trust and focus and I was prepared to take the journey through the different stages of my illness. Through cancer, my knowledge and skills have deepend and I am able to share them with others who are facing this disease or any other life event that is overwhelming and needs to be transformed.

Finally, I would like to say that I believe that if we are able to be present in every moment of this disease or any other event that causes suffering, we can heal ourselves and stop ourselves from suffering. And by that I do not mean that the cancer can be cured, but that the journey of going through something like this can change your perspective and that you can go to a place of trust, connect with yourself on a deeper level, and find peace with yourself.

I believe that illness is an opportunity to start healing yourself and to recognize that we are invited by our illness to connect with ourselves on a deeper level and embody our life purpose.

When I wrote this post I still did not know the results of the hospital treatments and my own approach of healing from cancer. Yesterday the 29th of October the doctor told me that I am clean. Thus everything I did and not did, had a positive effect to be #cancerfree. I have changed my lifestyle dramatically and I will stay focussed on rebalancing my body, mind and soul to stay healthy.  More about what these life style changes are,  in another blog to come.

If, after reading this post you are curious and you would like to know more how I could help you out with your journey in cancer or any other event or experience that is overwhelming you, book your free call here with me. Looking forward talking to you.

If you just would like to share your thoughts or experiences, do not be shy and use the comment box below, I would love to hear from you.

with love,


Posted on October 23, 2015 and filed under Bodywork, cancer.