Cancer is Trauma for the person grappling with living and dying, for the kids, for the partner, for the community of friends and family.
In my experiences as a woman diagnosed nearly 10 years ago with stage 4 ovarian cancer, a clinical psychologist, and the founder of Nancy’s List and Nancy’s Club, I have had the privilege of many conversations with many many people living with cancer … children, teens, adults, and their loved ones.
When I was diagnosed, I had the immensely good fortune to be treated by an especially wise oncologist who understood the profound emotional roller-coaster in front of me. He advised me to seek the support of a psychologist, preferably one who had survived a cancer diagnosis and had endured the torment and ambiguities and deep questioning. I know that my psychotherapy experience enhanced my healing in extraordinary ways.
During my intense, oftentimes grueling, and very long treatment, I listened to many fellow travelers. They shared feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They worried about being honest with their children and not knowing what to say to them, about telling their employers and likely losing their jobs, about the potential for bankruptcy and foreclosure, about the loss of insurance or the inability to pay for all their medications. They suffered isolation, fear, distrust, anger, and profound sadness.
Many simply needed to talk, as we all do, and to have someone generously listen. Many questioned “Why me?” especially the vegans who did yoga every day.
A few demonstrated an abundance of courage and resilience, but many were in constant fear … all the while, they prayed for strength and courage and resilience and life.
I vowed to make a difference for people living with cancer, those who love and care for them, and, particularly, for the children, those who have a cancer diagnosis or love someone who has. I would blend my skills as a clinical psychologist specializing in family systems, the generosity and inspiration of my oncologist, the open hearts of my loved ones who brought meaning to my journey, to the simple and profound wish and mission:
NO ONE WILL EVER GO THROUGH CANCER ALONE.
I am a clinical psychologist. I work with many cancer patients and those who love and care for them. I hold hands and hearts.
Sometimes, the conversations are very difficult as we ponder mystery, uncertainty, fear, sadness and disappointment. Sometimes, oftentimes, our conversations are almost liberating and exhilarating as my clients discover how to bring meaning to their experience and to consciously create their lives so that they are fully-lived.
My clients are from many parts of the country. Many come to my office in Mill Valley; others call on the phone; some visits are on Skype. Many are children of someone they dearly love who is struggling with a cancer diagnosis.They are frightened, alone, and need a hand and a heart. I tell them, “I am with you.”
If you or someone you love needs to talk to a professional survivor of some “serious” cancer, please suggest that they contact me …
With immense appreciation …