SCC: Thrive! It's a cheerful word. It makes me think of healthy green plants bursting out of the warming spring earth and reaching towards the sun. That's pretty much how Stephanie Butland's new book, Thrive: the Bah! Guide to wellness after cancer made me feel while I was reading it too. For those of you who don't know her, Stephanie is...well...thriving after an up close and personal encounter with breast cancer. Her first book, How I Said Bah! to Cancer, was published two years ago. It's bloody marvellous, and I wish I'd had it to share with my sister ten years ago. This new book is equally fab. It's down to earth, practical, unremittingly honest and uplifting - all at the same time, and struck me as being helpful not just for cancer sufferers and their families, but also in a wider context, since many of the visualisations and exercises would help those suffering from depression, or a debilitating illness too.
Three quotes from this book particularly stuck in my head:
"I think language is important. I believe that the words that we choose reach out into the world and show the world how to treat us. And I believe that those words also snake down into our unconscious and form a blueprint for our brains to follow."Absolutely. I am a person who works with words as my job, but I also know from my experiences during my training in shamanism, and from my time on the Hoffman Process that positive words and positive visualisations have the power to change both minds and bodies.
"You have to fill your own well. You have to nurture yourself."Taking care of yourself is something a lot of people find hard. They forget, they somehow think it's not important, they're too busy taking care of everyone around them. But if you're not taking care of yourself, then the well can run dry.
"When you are struggling - lift up your heart."This is a hugely powerful thing to visualise. Your heart, lifting in your body as if it was tied to a balloon. Wow! Do try it.
If you or anyone you know are touched by cancer, then this is a book you should buy, and I'm delighted to welcome Stephanie to Scribble City Central to talk about how lucky she feels to be thriving, 'what ifs', and the baby steps and giant strides of progress.
And I felt well. I don’t measure wellness in Olympian terms, but even so. I’d just had a weekend where I’d slept deeply, taken a long walk, spent an afternoon shopping, and had lots of exchanges with my friends and family during which no-one felt the need to make any concessions to, or even enquiries after, my health. My hair was long enough to be clipped back, I had eaten what I liked without worrying about what bits of my digestive system would get upset, I was only short of breath when I’d done something that merited it.
And I thought, as I stood with my books in my hand, about how I wrote this book about thriving when I felt so well. I thought I was thriving. I look back now at the writer submitting the manuscript, and I think about how far I’ve come. I hope that, in a year, I will look back on that photo of me with the books and think of how much better I feel now. The progress I make these days is more subtle, on a graph a gentle curve connecting quieter mind and stronger arms and less time prodding my scars in case I can feel something nasty lurking under there, but it’s still there.
It’s such a long way from cancer survival to genuine wellness. There’s very little in the body that cancer treatment doesn’t affect for the worse. And the psychological impact of facing up to a Big Illness, the guilt of surviving it, the figuring-out of how life should be after it - all of these things take their toll too.
I do feel lucky, so very lucky. I could write a book of ‘ifs’ that would have a much less happy ending. (If the lump hadn’t been so near the surface of my breast I could see it, if my husband hadn’t made me see my GP, if it wasn’t the twenty-first century, if I hadn’t had an expert surgeon, if the cancer had got just a little bit further...) Thankfully, these days there are more lucky ones than you can shake a stick at, and I got to write that book. It’s a book about how to move away from cancer and towards good health, little by little, by being kind to yourself and using your mind and trusting your heart and, above all, being proactive and practical. If you need it, I hope it finds you, and I hope it helps you.
SCC: Thank you so much for visiting, Stephanie, and for being such an inspirational guest blogger.
The next stop on Stephanie's tour is at Scott Pack's Me And My Big Mouth blog, where she assures me she'll be talking about cake (mmmmn...cake!). I'll go anywhere for cake (even the virtual variety), so I'll be visiting....
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You can buy copies of both of Stephanie's books by clicking HERE.