QiGong helped me survive breast cancer
By: S.K. (Germany)
My mother once told me that your life is built on 3 legs – your family and friends, your work and finances, and finally your health. It would be pretty remarkable if all 3 were perfect all the time. Usually one of them needs a bit of attention, we limp along for a while. So, when I found myself, age 45, in the middle of the hardest and stressiest project of my life (rolling out our global privacy compliance program against an impossible deadline), I was not expecting my health to play up on top. But I guess there is a domino effect, they all connect into you and the choices you make.
After 2 operations and 6 weeks of radiotherapy I staggered back into real life a different person, deep down. Breast cancer (even stage 1) like any cancer or scary illness, cleans out all your priorities and firmly puts you back at the center of your three-legged balancing act. And when you hear the old saying that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, I can honestly say that the time I spent with my husband was the best since honeymoon or those early days with a fresh baby. We really found each other again, through all the tears and laughter (because sometimes, you just need to laugh at the darkness).
Work priorities got a healthy line drawn around them, so it is far easier these days to say “No” without regrets. On the positive side, I pushed for and won a new role building out operational effectiveness in my area. My joyful focus is now on helping others do well, providing them with knowledge, advice, toolkits and cultural stimulus that will enable them to achieve their goals. I. Love. It.
And my health? Well I used to try and learn two new things every year. And then I lost the idea along the way. So my “2018 down-time” gave me a chance to start over. I knew Yoga already but now I took lessons in basic QiGong (which you can do anywhere, wearing if you like a ballgown, simply explore You Tube channels to find your best match!). And these days I row in the warm summer months (in a SUP scull – perfect for isolation in 2020 and so unusual here in Germany, people stop to geek talk to me about the rig!). It’s been just wonderful to regain that power and vitality.
Throughout all of this, whilst everyone is focused on your physical state and you are surrounded by hundreds of physicians and specialists who never seem to talk to each other, it is easy to lose focus of your self. But above all, it’s your soul that needs love and attention. This is the place within that you need to energise to deal with the shocks and fears. Plenty of research has been done into the benefits of therapy, exercise and a warm social network (the kind of friends who make you feel good about yourself, not the other kind) and the better chances or perhaps faster recovery.
In hindsight, QiGong turned out to be my soul engine. I was endlessly surprised how a sad, angry, fearful day would turn itself around. Through the exercises (the Eagle! The girl carrying water! the tiger breaking out of her cage!) I found good vibes coming at me from nowhere, a frown turned to a smile for no obvious reason, a weight on my chest disappeared in one deep exhale. I cannot recall how many others by now I nudged to try it out, but the response has always been raw delight and relief. If you asked me how to stay positive, I would start right there, take care of your soul.