Cherryl meditates to reduce stress and for her healing
Meditation has “improved my quality of life” says Cherryl Phelps who meditates every day – sometimes two, even three times a day.
“It puts me in a more relaxed state of mind and has definitely improved my stress level,” said Cherryl, 65, of Lismore in northern NSW, who was diagnosed with a blood cancer called myeloma in August 2015.’
Myeloma is a treatable but incurable blood cancer.
Six months later, after lots of different treatments, she had an autologous stem cell transplant (SCT) and it was “a big hurdle to get over and get well after”.
“I looked and felt like an old lady when I came home from hospital,” said Cherryl.
“When I meditate, I specifically concentrate on my healing; it’s not just to relax. It’s to have the mindfulness of my healing.
“Before my diagnosis, I was breaking bones. I had a broken foot, three broken ribs and three broken vertebrae in my back, so I can’t stand or sit for too long,” said Cherryl, so she tends to lie down when she meditates.
Emotional impact of blood cancer
“I let my body sink, just sink, like you’re sinking into this really soft, cotton wool mattress, and you just want to stay there, you’re so light.
“It’s just a really light feeling that you have. Some thoughts do come and go, but mainly it’s just concentrating on something. I try and see a white light when I meditate, and I direct that white light through my body for healing.
“That’s basically what I do,” said Cherryl.
And she recommends meditating “to everybody, because this [having a blood cancer] is a really stressful time, and a very emotional time, especially after a SCT”.
“And when you come home, your family is so good to you, but they don’t understand what you’re actually going through emotionally, and I found that really hard.
“But meditation does help a lot with everything, whether you are sick or well.”
“My husband and I had a marriage breakup and that was more stressful than being diagnosed with cancer,” said Cherryl. “
“My dog, Marley, was my saviour at the time and I love him to bits.”
Healing the mind and body
Several weeks after getting home, following her transplant, Cherryl went to a seminar presented by Dr Ian Gawler in Melbourne, where her youngest son lives.
“He said, ‘Mum, I’ll get the tickets and I’ll take you’, so we both went and that was the start of learning how to meditate,” Cherryl explained.
“I had tried to meditate before, but I couldn’t get the gist of it and I just couldn’t relax enough to feel what I should have been feeling.
“It’s all about the mind – it’s mind/body healing and that’s what I’m mainly focused on.”
No evidence of myeloma
Cherryl has been in remission [no evidence of myeloma] since March this year. She continues to see her haematologist monthly, to have her paraprotein and bloods checked, and to see how she’s going.
“I know I have myeloma*, but I don’t think about having it. I don’t think of myself as being sick – it’s not in my mind,” said Cherryl.
“I feel great, I feel normal, except when my back gets cranky. That’s the only time I start to think about it [myeloma] but I don’t focus on it.
“Life is just the here and the now, one day at a time.
“Whether you’re sick or well we only have today, tomorrow is not promised.”
This story features as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2019, helping to raise awareness of every blood cancer.