We posted this note and poem by the indomitable and multi-talented Margaret Dubay Mikus years ago, and recently came across it again – it sure is worth posting again.
Since the time she wrote this, she has gone on to further flesh out her exquisite Full Blooming website, where she inspires and empowers scores of people in tough circumstances, temporarily in need of a little extra hope and moxie.
Here it is again:
A poet with a PhD in molecular genetics, has a recurrence of breast cancer and finds out she carries the “breast cancer gene”, the BRCA2 mutation, and, after much deliberation, opts for a bilateral mastectomy, plus removal of her ovaries and Fallopian tubes. We don’t have the space here to tell the whole story of her amazing, courageous, bumpy ride, but we can publish her wonderful poem and her thank you letter to friends, family and caregivers after her surgery. You can learn more about Margaret Dubay Mikus and enjoy her inspiring poetry and photography here.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to assess the initial efficacy of a patient-controlled cognitive-behavioral (CB) intervention for the pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance symptom cluster that often accompanies advanced cancer treatment.
Eighty-six patients with advanced lung, prostate, colorectal, or gynecologic cancers, receiving treatment at a comprehensive cancer center, were stratified by recruitment clinics (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) and randomized to the intervention or control groups.
Forty-three patients were assigned to receive training in and use of up to 12 relaxation, guided imagery or distraction exercises, delivered via an MP3 player for two weeks during cancer treatment.
Forty-three patients were assigned to a waitlist control condition for the same two week period. Outcomes included symptom cluster severity and overall symptom interference with daily life, measured at baseline (Time 1) and two weeks later (Time 2).
Probably the most frequent thanks we get is from someone who was really scared – someone who used our guided imagery to get a sense of calm mastery and control over their anxiety and fear. Often that was facing surgery, chemotherapy or a tough diagnosis; or it could be a condition that is in and of itself based on anxiety – panic attacks, OCD, posttraumatic stress and so forth.
Here’s an article that was dropped in my mail box about a patient at Beaumont Hospital System in Durango CO, who used imagery to face down some very tough and scary cancer treatments.
Do have a look if you’ve got the time. It’s a fast but inspiring read. Just click here.
I would like to let you know about a unique way that I’ve been using your guided imagery CD’s. First, let me say that they have been a lifeline for me, especially dealing with some unpleasant medical problems and the sudden death of my mother in September. Unfortunately, I was dealt another blow in December when my amazing tabby cat, Cody, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after surgery to remove a tumor, his spleen, and part of his pancreas.
Before I go any further, let me tell you a little bit about Cody. I adopted him from a shelter when he was 2 years old and he’s now almost 14. He has a wonderful personality and absolutely loves people. One of his goals in life is to charm everyone he meets. When we lived in Cincinnati, one of his vets used to refer to him as the Cat Ambassador. He ’s one of the few cats who actually likes being at the vet because people love on him and tell him how cute he is. We affectionately call him our snuggle slut.
Investigators from Tianjin Medical University’s School of Nursing in Tianjin, China, conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of yoga on psychological health and quality of life (QoL) in women with breast cancer.
A systematic search was done using PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and the Chinese Digital Journals Full-text Database. Analysts used randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of yoga as compared to a control group (treatment as usual or TAU), on psychological functioning and QoL in women with breast cancer.
Six studies involving 382 patients were included for review. The meta-analysis revealed that yoga improves quality of life for women with breast cancer, yielding a statistically significant effect (p=0.03, standard mean difference = 0.27, 95% confidence interval [0.02, 0.52]).
I have attended a couple of your programs. At the one in Virginia
and the Washington DC area, you mentioned some tips for the caregiver
for your loved one with cancer.
It was a listing of 'helpful hints' for people/family who are
impacted by the diagnosis of life-threatening cancer - i.e. setting
boundaries with others who want to share their story...etc.
Would you be so kind as to repeat this? As an oncology nurse
manager, I have to assist the caregiver as well as the person with
cancer during this process, and I thought what you were speaking about
would be a help to them and their journey.
We got this really beautiful note from a man who’d suffered
the terrible loss of his soul-mate and life partner to complications
from Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It’s a wonderfully honest and eloquent
description of a person’s journey through grief and heartbreak to
healing and growth - and very inspiring. Here it is:
“This isn't a question - it's a great big Thank You Note!
“My soul-mate and life partner, died due to
complications from chemo and radiation treatments for Non-Hodgkins
lymphoma (actual cause of death was end-stage lung disease - not a nice
“She was diagnosed with NHL in 1998 and had multiple therapies.
However, her remissions were never long lasting. Towards the end of her
physical life, we had some really awesome conversations, and I was able
to hear her beautiful wishes for me. I made sure she knew what an honor
it was for me to be her caregiver and to walk beside her during our
time together. She was a beautiful, happy woman, my little bird, and I
miss her very much.
We found this post from Rosie on Amazon. Now, we know perfectly well that this generous description credits a lot to the guided imagery; and that nobody can know for sure what made this experience go so well. Rosie does mention the importance of diet and nutrition, too.
But then again, on the other hand, we sure do hear a lot of feedback that sounds just like this… We figure that guided imagery is particularly well suited for surgery and other medical procedures – that much we can say with some assurance. Here’s Rosie’s note:
Wow...thats all I can say.
I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer 1B2 a few months ago. I underwent a radical hysterectomy combined with femoral hernia repair 10 days ago.
Investigators from the Continuum Cancer Centers of the New York Beth Israel Medical Center evaluated the impact of guided imagery on patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Eligible patients receiving guided imagery sessions were monitored via biofeedback before and after each session. Measures included blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, and skin temperature.
In addition, the EuroQoL Group's EQ-5D health questionnaire was used for subjective assessment and patient feedback was collected at the end of radiation therapy through a satisfaction survey.
Measured parameters revealed statistically significant improvement from baseline, with decreases noted in respiration rate and pulse rate as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Skin temperature increased, indicating more peripheral capillary flow as a result of a decrease in the sympathetic response.