Something significant happened to me 10,950 days ago. No, it was not my birthday but it was the day I started my ‘second’ life. May 3 is a day I will always remember. Thirty years ago, I was operated on by a skilled surgeon, to excise two large tumours which had spread from a melanoma I had removed ten months earlier.
I was only thirty-three, married with two young children aged six and eight. After the tumours were examined, I was informed that I had two months to two years to live and that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were not an option. I was devastated. I wanted to see my precious children grow up. I wanted to travel. I wanted to live my life.
This ‘event’ challenged every belief I had ever had about life but ultimately guided me towards a significant transformation of my mind, body and soul. I never wanted to be perceived as a ‘victim of cancer’, something deep inside of me suggested that I could use this time to empower myself and start to live the life I had always dreamed.
I was like a sponge. Reading books, talking with people, doing personal development courses. Surrounding myself with positive people who believed in me and my capabilities. I found all of this at Cancer Support WA.
I decided I wanted to share the many healing insights I had gained from this experience with others. I was lucky enough to be invited by Cancer Support WA to facilitate their Support Groups and present the Gawler Foundation’s Live Well, Be Well Course, as well as mentor many people who were newly diagnosed with cancer.
Cathy Brown, one of Solaris Cancer Care’s leading facilitators, reflects on how Solaris Cancer Care helped her create the life she lives today.
“I love the saying: ‘There are many pathways up the mountain’. I had to find my own pathway through the many challenges I encountered and hopefully, by telling my story, show others that there is another way”
I also taught Reiki and became a Clinical Hypnotherapist. Cancer Support WA and Solaris Cancer Care merged together three years ago, and I am honoured that I am still able to meet with people, guide and empower them through their cancer journey – thirty years later.
‘My Answer to Cancer’ was written to tell my story in full. Many people asked me “What was the one thing that got you through cancer.” There wasn’t one thing. It was a combination of many things and it took me some time to decide on the title of this book as I hesitate to tell anyone how to live their lives. I don’t have their solutions. I wanted to share the wisdom and insights I had discovered and explain the answers I had discovered for myself and what I was prepared to do to heal. I love the saying: ‘There are many pathways up the mountain’. I had to find my own pathway through the many challenges I encountered and hopefully, by telling my story, show others that there is another way. The richness of this healing journey is something I will always treasure.
There are no guarantees in life, so I made the commitment to myself that I would live my life the best way I could, for as long as possible. Experiencing many highs and many lows along the way, I always looked for the lesson and insights, often finding them deep within myself. Socrates quoted: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I feel I have extensively examined my life and will continue to do so for the life I have left.
Solaris Cancer Care is a wonderful organisation and I feel very privileged to be able to work here. When I attended conferences in other parts of Australia, people are always amazed when I tell them what we do and the resources we make available to our community for free, or at very little cost. I’m not sure that many Western Australians realise just how lucky they are and what a unique resource they have right here in front of them. To deal with any life-threatening illness is challenging, to say the least, and I have observed that people do better when they have a ‘team’ to help support and guide them through the minefield of emotions, feelings, thoughts and challenges that come with cancer diagnosis.
I have often wondered how different my outcome would have been if I hadn’t ‘stumbled’ across the diverse resources at our centres, i.e. meditation/Reiki, counselling/support groups – just to name a few. I suppose you could call it a ‘sliding doors’ moment or a ‘crossroads in life’ but I am glad I had the courage to take the road less travelled and opened my mind to other possibilities.
I will always be grateful to the many gifted and generous people who are attracted to Solaris and have volunteered their valuable time empower people with wisdom, information and knowledge.
Because of the support I received, I have been fortunate enough to live long enough to see my children develop into amazing adults and I am very proud of them both. The unexpected bonus for me has been to meet my four beautiful grandchildren. They bought with them so much love and joy, and I’m grateful for every day I get to see their smiling faces and hear their excited voices as the tell me about their latest adventures.
What have I learned from all of this? Life is a gift and I now choose to make the most of every opportunity offered to me as my Soul Journey unfolds before me.
Please support Solaris Cancer Care so that we can give other people the wonderful opportunity that I was given all those years ago. It is safe, non-judgemental place for cancer patients, their family, and their friends to share with us and re-assess their life, developing strategies and skills to create a sense of wellness.
By donating to Solaris Cancer Care there is great satisfaction in knowing that you have contributed to a unique organisation that will be there for you if any of your family, friends or acquaintances ever need us. Please don’t look at it as a donation, but as an investment into the future for all of the community.