Chapter 8 – Curating the Art of Nothingness

My Experience with the First Six Cycles of Chemotherapy

In fact, going through the first six cycles of chemotherapy made life unexpectedly richer in some ways, such as avoiding hair loss.

One day, I was at my local garage to book a job for my car or ask questions about the website I built and maintained for them. I always feel relaxed there. As I was sitting in the reception area, I was surprised to see an old acquaintance. I thought he had passed away since I had heard that he had a terminal prognosis.

After exchanging pleasantries, we talked about our health. He shared that he was given a prognosis of just two months, and he acted quickly:

  • Making changes to his attitudes
  • Embracing the science (inherent in the health system (my words)).
  • And lifestyle changes.

We kept in touch via email for a few months, and I perceived that he had a good quality of life from local hearsay, for a few years. When I talked to him, he looked healthy and in good spirits.

Unfortunately, RD passed away way too soon. He was a good man, and he will be missed.

Time Line of This Chapter:

July 2019 – Jan 2020

  • A friend’s journey.
  • The Unknown
  • Walking Dunedin
  • Chemo day kindness
  • Hindsight
  • Exploring attitudes
  • Paradoxes
  • The Great Unknown.
  • YouTube.
    • The Myth of Normal
  • Technical talk.
  • Feeling Blessed.
  • A good read.
  • A new part time job.
  • A bright future.


After undergoing a few treatments that were indicating a “total response”, I had some time to reflect.

  • Two days before each treatment, I made a conscious effort to ring-fence off every emotion. I hadn’t necessarily dealt with them all, but my goal was to become nothingness and to welcome the unknown. Given my beliefs and life experiences, these were my only strategies. I even excluded prayer and positive thinking.
  • I shared a few special things with a select number of people, not to set my affairs in order but to set the stage for whatever outcomes may come my way. Although some of these things didn’t make sense to me, I followed my heart and carried them through.
  • Unknowingly at the time, I created space for whatever the cards may deal me, and a few months later, I realized that I found peace in this scenario.

It’s important to note that the concept of acceptance should not be mistaken for fatalism or avoidance.

The fact is, there’s no room for the Unknown in the predictable life. But being predictable it’s not how the unknown works. The unknown is unfamiliar, uncertain-but it’s also exciting because it occurs in ways you cannot expect or anticipate. So let me ask you: how much room in your routine, predictable life do you have for the Unknown?

Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza. A New York Times bestseller.
Dunedin Gardens.

As mentioned earlier walking was for me the best way to mitigate the effects of chemo. Especially for the several months when it was intense. And so I did during the day and sometimes the night. Dunedin is a wonderful place to wander about.

Dunedin by night.
Oncology day unit.

The six months approx. of treatments in the oncology day unit rolled by in quite a haze. In fact the only way I can be accurate writing this chapter is to refer to the photos I took over the period!

Some days previous patients would bring in goodies for morning tea. And in this case lots of goodies!


My writings to date, as far as I can remember, have covered the period from June 2019 to about February 2020. It has taken me over a year to write this much of my blog, for a very good reason: I didn’t want to write it while in the fog of traditional chemotherapy. Now, I’m over a year out from maintenance chemo (see below).

As I write this in September 2022, I can’t go back and change my attitudes or my treatment choices, nor can I change my attitudes towards other things and see what the outcome might have been. The world doesn’t work that way, and clinical trials don’t stack up when they involve only one person. The first systematic clinical trial involved the treatment of scurvy in 1747.

However, hindsight can offer a selection of theories about what may or may not have happened.

As mentioned earlier, my health professionals believe that my attitudes played a role in steering me towards remission.

In the following section, I explore how attitudes may impact health outcomes, drawing from scientific research.

Reflecting on my experience, I see similarities between my approach to cancer and the way one might contain a bushfire. By compartmentalizing my emotions, I effectively denied lymphoma access to the “fuel and oxygen” of stress-inducing hormones. However, subconscious traumas triggered by our thoughts can be more challenging to address. When past traumas resurface, stress hormones flood the body, suppressing the immune system and leaving us vulnerable to illness.

While it can be challenging to uncover what’s going on in our subconscious, we can retrain our thinking and communicate with our bodies to promote healing. For instance, I recently witnessed how a cross-country skier taught her body to relax and let go of tension through practice, creating a feedback loop that freed her mind to enjoy the experience. Similarly, we can reprogram our thinking and establish a new feedback loop that instructs the body to take charge and promote healing.

If you can grow in love, you will grow in awareness. If you grow in awareness, you will grow in love.


On the other hand, when I began treatment, I was in a state of utter despair. At the time, my ego was deprived of fuel and had to take a back seat. This left room for deeper truths to emerge, and perhaps contributed to my eventual remission. However, it’s difficult to determine what impact this had on my recovery, and there’s no way to turn back the clock and test different attitudes and treatment options. Nonetheless, reflecting on my experience, I believe that a positive attitude and a willingness to communicate with my body played a role in my recovery.

Paradoxes are present in the context of illness and treatment.

For example, while chemo cycles are known to suppress the immune system, it is unclear if this effect is uniform. I wonder if it also suppresses/fogs up the unconscious/subconscious even, which would also aid healing. Moreover, finding balance and coherence among the body’s energy centers is critical for overall wellness, and a constant focus on the outer world can lead to an unhealthy fragmentation of our energy quotient. Meditation is one pathway to achieve coherence, but it is also essential to consider the factors that affect the manufacturing of new cells, the disposal of old ones, and the impact of technology and lifestyle choices. The role of the subconscious in illness and recovery is worth exploring, as is the timing and dosage of treatments. Fine decisions made by experienced and professional specialists can make a significant difference in achieving balance and avoiding tipping points.

So now let me ask you this: could it ever be possible for your body to start following your mind to the Unknown? If so, you can see that you would have to change where you put your attention, and that would lead to changing your energy, which would require you to change how you think and how you feel long enough for something new to happen. While this may sound incredible, this is indeed possible. It makes sense that just as your body has been following your mind to every known experience in your life (like the coffee maker each morning), if you were to start investing your attention and energy into the unknown, your body would then be able to follow your mind into the unknown-a new experience in your future.

Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza. A New York Times bestseller.

Dr. Gabor Maté On How Trauma Fuels Disease | Rich Roll Podcast

I don’t often go to YouTube, but there are exceptions. This is just over 90 minutes of pure gold On How Trauma Fuels Disease.

Technical over view:

I underwent chemotherapy treatment for a total of 30 cycles (28 days = 1 cycle), with the last 24 cycles being less intense “maintenance chemos”. To receive my treatment, I had to travel the four hours to Dunedin for nearly all of them. Especially the first six cycles.

When I arrived at the day unit, I would get my bloods done. The next day, I would meet with my oncologist, who would check to make sure I was “good to go” for the following two days of intravenous (IV) treatment. The first day was rituximab, and the second day was bendamustine. I can’t remember which day I would also receive an IV antibiotic called pentamidine. I had to arrive at the clinic by 10 am, with my lunch and anything else I wanted to keep me occupied, such as my iPad, laptop, books, or music headphones. I would typically spend several hours there, leaving around 3-5 pm.

During my visits, there were many things to be checked off, such as how I was feeling, what medications I had taken that morning (including Panadol before arriving), and vital sign checks such as blood pressure and oxygen uptake. I also had to take other medications before the IV treatment began.

After my first six months of cycles, I moved into 24 months of maintenance chemo. During this time, I received rituximab and pentamidine all in one day, every two months. Pentamidine was particularly hard on my veins and required a slow and prolonged delivery. To avoid skin irritation called tracking, I had a small electric blanket wrapped around the area where the cannulation was inserted.

I had no idea I would be so blessed during treatment, to be able to do so much…

I was able to cross country ski.
Not my usual mileages though.
With spring skiing featured less. Blossom festivals and the like could be enjoyed.
My old mates cross country skiing.
Me in the red cap.
Three of the above mates graciously accompanied me up Isthmus Peak. I was very slow, but they looked after me. It was my first big outing. A voyage of discovery of the new me.
Since all was going so well I did a 3 day tramp.
The Hump Ridge in Southland. I suffered extremely
bad blistering on the soles of my feet though.
I think the treatments made my skin a
lot less oily. So there was less water resistance.
Aigantighe Gallery in Timaru.
Flying back from a 2nd PET/CT scan in Christchurch
I had a great view of Mt Tutoko in Fiordland.

Following my second PET/CT scan in Christchurch, I had a meeting with my oncologist. To my surprise, she informed me that there was no evidence of the disease anywhere in my body. This news threw me off guard, as I had expected her to say something like “we’ve knocked it back.” Looking back, I realized that I had been identifying too closely with the illness, despite my best efforts to avoid doing so. Nonetheless, I was overjoyed to hear this great news!

I found this to be a very interesting and useful read.

No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.

There is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat 25,000 times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. In Breath, journalist James Nestor travels the world to discover the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and Tummo, to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

Breath by James Nestor

Out of the Blue…

I found myself appointed by the Minister of Conservation, to serve on the Otago Conservation Board. A part time job, where members advise the Dept. of Conservation on governance matters. Giving a voice to the birds and/or the public.

Tuatara at Orokonui.
Galaxids in the Manuherikia. A non migratory
fish from the era of the dinosaurs. Approx 10 cm long. Endangered species.
A rather complex legal document.
Post glacial landscape, New Zealand Like many areas in the world glaciers have sculptured and carved the landscapes we see today. They all scrape away the softer rock and sediment beneath them. As the ice melts during a “retreat”, it will drop rocks, sediment, and debris once carried on the surface of the ice. Unlike a river, glaciers only drop their cargo when they melt. In this case further “weathering” has also occurred. Forces such as rain water run off and frost heave of soils/clays come into play. Due to altitude induced coldness, not much grows. But there is evidence of these areas in New Zealand once being home to totara forests. The ground cover in this photo is a resident tall grass known as snow grass. Also known as red tussock. The area Glenaray Station. The task: advise/submit on the Tenure Review process.

Today, the future looks bright and full of promise.

As I reflect on my journey and why I felt compelled to share my story, I realize that it has been a cathartic experience for me. It has also sparked a desire for research and self-reflection, and made me recognize that I have spent too much time focusing on superficial, short-term goals that are not aligned with my true values. This realization has encouraged me to redirect my energy towards more meaningful pursuits, rather than being driven by outdated beliefs from my childhood.

My hope is that by sharing my experiences, others may find additional tools, inspiration, and ideas that can help them on their own journeys. I believe that the lessons I have learned and the perspective I have gained can be valuable to anyone facing challenging times, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story in the hope that it can make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Pocket lets you save the articles, videos and web pages you’d like to view later.

If you landed on a single post instead of the Home Page then click here please to go to Home >>

BTW current state of health, as of Sept 2022, is pretty good!

The next post/chapter will be titled something like, “The Long Haul of Maintenance Chemo”

If you would like an email notification for new posts coming up (at least a doz. planned), then please leave your details here

The content presented on the site is in no way intended as medical advice. Or as a substitute for medical treatment. Guidance from your doctor or other health care professional should always be sought. Be involved with them on all levels.

Chapter 9 – Maintenance Chemo ongoing

Understanding Ongoing Maintenance Chemo for Cancer Treatment

6 cycles of chemo done. 24 to go!

Time Line of This Chapter:

Feb 2020 – Oct 2021

  • The challenge of maintenance chemotherapy over an approx. 24 months.
  • The words of a folk song and their effect on my thinking.
  • Taking responsibility after chemo.
  • Looking at the various brain wave frequency lengths associated with stress, sleep, mindfulness and meditation (which includes prayer).
  • Two complimentary books to read.

After completing six cycles of chemotherapy, I still have 24 more to go! But maintenance chemotherapy is like a superhero for my body. It uses its superpowers to seek out and destroy any remaining cancer cells that may still be lurking around after the initial treatment. It’s like a crime-fighting one-man-band, but with a lot more science involved! By targeting and killing any remaining cancer cells, maintenance chemotherapy helps ensure that they don’t have a chance to come back and haunt me.

The initial treatment, which involved a grueling six months of the intense combination of rituximab and bendamustine, was finally over. However, it took an additional three months for the full effects to dissipate, but of course, everyone’s experience is unique. Speaking of Rituximab, it’s also known by the brand name Rituxan and is used to treat various autoimmune diseases and types of cancer.

Maintenance treatment, on the other hand, was a breeze in comparison. Every two months, I had to take my dose intravenously (every two months instead of every one), which worked out to be just under two months (28 days times two cycles). The first few cycles were a piece of cake compared to the initial six, but as time went on, I found myself feeling more and more run down and brain-fogged.

Another thing that was part of my maintenance treatment was an IV of pentamidine every month to keep me safe from pneumonia, as by this time, my immune function was probably poor. Pentamidine is an antibiotic that is very slow to administer. The veins do not like it done fast, so 300 ml. would take almost five hours, which gave me plenty of time to read, chat with other patients, or sleep.

What I found interesting during the whole chemo treatment was that afterwards, well-meaning people would comment on how well I looked. This was in contrast to how I was feeling. All I can say to this is that I think chemo sort of induces a flush of wellness. Within each cycle, there were sub-cycles, and it would take me about four days to bounce back from each one. But as mentioned, they did wear me down somewhat. Whether or not I had a flush of wellness and rosy cheeks, the treatment was still taxing.

One bonus was that while each rituximab had to be done in Dunedin Hospital, the pentamidine IV (only it, on the alternate months) could be done at the nearby Dunstan Hospital. This meant an hour’s drive as opposed to four hours. The “feel” of Dunstan is that of a small cottage hospital, quite different from Dunedin’s city-style feel. And more relaxing, with its views out of the window being more in keeping with nature. Healing in its own right!

However, on the drive home from Dunstan, more often than not, tiredness would overcome me. So I learned to take a slightly longer route home on the other side of Lake Dunstan. Just before the Lindis River that runs into the head of the lake, I’d stop for a nap under the shade of willows. It was very welcome during the intense summer days.

"Spirit of Hope" rose, in Dunedin Gardens.
“Spirit of Hope” in Dunedin Gardens. On my usual walking route to and from Dunedin Hospital.

One up two down…

The whole maintenance chemo experience reminded me of the lyrics of a folk song written by my friend, the acclaimed composer/singer, Martin Curtis. Until recently he lived up the nearby Cardrona Valley.

I think of the song as, One up, two down… and the song would roll on at quite a pace.

And that’s how chemo felt! For every one I’d feel a gain, but as time went on I’d feel slippage back. But not to a non-remission state – it all related to the effects of the ongoing treatments. I used to wonder if my body would tolerate them forever. Maybe, maybe not! I guess the cut off point of 24 months was in light of the experience of others.

James Patterson purchased the Cardrona hotel and became a local legend. Known as Jimmy, he owned the hotel from 1926 until his death in 1961 at the age of 91. Making him the longest serving publican in Cardrona.

He was famous for controlling the amount his patrons could drink. It would depend on which direction they were traveling. Men going up the valley over the Crown Range were only allowed one drink. While those traveling down valley to Wanaka were allowed two. (He preferred to not supply any alcohol to women).

A late snowfall early Oct. 2020. Chemo or no chemo I was still getting about. Simply enjoying all on offer. But no drinks – no one up or two down!

Research has shown that 80% of the decisions we make come from our subconscious conditioning and beliefs. Our egos may not be too thrilled with this concept, as it undermines the persuasive power they can work with. However, despite this, we still deny this research!

Percentage and first paragraph attributed to neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza. And echoed by other prominent figures in the field of neuroscience, including Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Norman Doidge, and Dr. Daniel Amen.

And I’d add to this statement quoted earlier:

  • “our thoughts affect our immune system”,


  • “our thoughts, especially our subconscious and unconscious ones, affect our immune systems”

Taking responsibility:

About halfway through my maintenance chemo I had thought and asked myself, “is this repetitive chemo keeping me alive and relatively healthy?”

The next thought was, when the chemo ends then I’ll be by myself, having to draw on whatever I can muster of my own resources.

Intellectually I know I will not be abandoned by the health system. So I held that thought.

But there is something very empowering about taking extra steps towards the best probable outcomes. And in going there – taking on the work. Taking responsibility to new levels possible from a solid base of remission.

What unfolded next was a real ‘shot in the arm’ for me: I asked my lovely oncologist if I could have a second round of counseling and therapy, just like I’d done after my initial (potentially terminal) diagnosis/prognosis.

And, to my delight, she again said “Yes, sure!” (Taking up the story of the second offer will be the beginning of the next chapter of my saga.)

On the first occasion I was fortunate enough to benefit from regular sessions with a very experienced (and grandmotherly!) counselor for a little over a year – right up until the moment she retired, shortly before I began my first six intense treatments.

You could say it was about learning about how to die well, even. But the substance that had a lot to do with empowering me had aspects such as the personalities of my parents, and how they built my beliefs, my stories – and, apparently, my future too! All jokes aside, I’m grateful to my parents for all they taught me – it really did help me to accept death as part of life.

Fortunately back then, after each session I was fit enough to bike from Clyde’s Dunstan Hospital, to Alexandra down the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail, through Alex., and back to Clyde via the shaded and sometimes swooping River Trail, on the true right of the Clutha.

Perfect for self debriefing!

Meet the locals on the River Trail.

A common narrative of the day

Let me take a few moments to ponder the narrative of the day, that stress is often considered a cause of cancer and tumors. And that mindfulness and meditation can help to handle the illness and its progression. And of course the effects of treatments.

I’ve had so many messages telling me that practicing mindfulness and meditation are the bee’s knees – but very little information on the “how” and “why” of it all. I’m particularly curious because I’m the kind of personality type that finds reassurance in understanding processes – so I’m hoping to get some answers soon, before I go completely bee-zerk!

As for the immediate me, I’m potentially a living testament to the power of something beyond positive thinking. Having been told I’ve achieved remission through my attitude… That said, I’m not suggesting that I have the panacea or that everyone can rid themselves of cancer with a smile, or the below – but I think it’s certainly worth giving it a try! After all what constitutes attitude?!? Noting especially that if a negative outcome starts to set in, it’s not a good idea to beat ourselves up either. Again consult the relative medical experts.

Looking at the various brain wave frequency lengths associated with stress, sleep, mindfulness and meditation (which includes prayer).

A synopsis of all I’ve read:

Brain wave frequency and amplitude can have a significant effect on healthy gene expression and the production of new cells. The frequency and amplitude of brain waves can influence the release of hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn can affect gene expression and cell growth. Brain waves can also influence the activity of enzymes involved in gene expression, which can further affect the production of new cells. Therefore, the frequency and amplitude of brain waves can have a direct impact on healthy gene expression and the production of new cells.

The brain waves that are related to stress are Beta (13–30 Hz) and Alpha (8–13 Hz). Beta waves are associated with alertness, concentration, and stress, while alpha waves are associated with relaxation and meditation. Low beta keeps the automatic processes that run our bodies on track. High is often referred to as “monkey brain”. And to my mind the state to recognise and then exit stage left!

Alpha (8–13 Hz). Then there is Theta (4–8 Hz), Delta (0.1–4 Hz) and Gamma (30–100 Hz). Alpha waves are associated with relaxation and meditation, theta waves are associated with deep relaxation, dreamless sleep, and creativity, delta waves are associated with deep, dreamless sleep, and gamma waves are associated with heightened focus and problem-solving.

What is relevant to myself is that (intuitively) from 2017 onward until today Jan. 2023, is that I regularly meditate, using guided audio, that is designed to facilitate alpha. Which is thought to be the bridge that connects them all. And before that… well 12 years of yoga 1-3 hours a week. This is how I roll, knowing it won’t be everyone’s cup-of-tea.

Following on from my evolving thoughts on brain wave frequency lengths as they relate to stress, mindfulness, sleep and meditation , I then researched this question: Can aged genes and cells turn into cancer tumors?

Yes, aged genes and cells can turn into cancerous tumors. Cancerous tumors develop when damaged or aged cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a mass of cancer cells. Aged genes, which can be caused by environmental factors and/or genetics, can cause mutations in the cells that can lead to cancer.

Can the expression of beta brain wave frequencies interfere with the destruction of aged genes?

No, the expression of beta brain wave frequencies cannot interfere with the destruction of aged genes. Beta brain waves are associated with alertness, concentration, and stress, and their expression does not impact the destruction of aged genes. However, beta brain waves can influence gene expression and cell growth, which can in turn affect the production of new cells and the destruction of aged cells.

Much of the above distills what is covered in detail in these two complimentary books below. I used artificial intelligence software to save myself a lot of compilation and summary work with correct grammar. Thankfully as a cross check on facts the match was near identical:

I loved how every topic has references back to the research.

Best Health Book of 2018 – American Book Fest. Best Science Books of 2018 – Bookbub. Every creation begins as a thought, from a symphony to a marriage to an ice cream cone to a rocket launch. When we have an intention, a complex chain of events begins in our brains. Thoughts travel as electrical impulses along neural pathways. When neurons fire together they wire together, creating electromagnetic fields. These fields are invisible energy, yet they influence the molecules of matter around us the way a magnet organizes iron filings. In Mind to Matter, award-winning researcher Dawson Church explains the science showing how our minds create matter.

By Dawson Church

This is a book that I plan to reread, and come back to often as an inspiration.

The New York Times bestseller everyone is talking about.

By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.

The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being.

By Michael A. Singer

A Reminder..

This is written with the best of intentions, but let’s be clear – I’m not claiming to have found a miracle cure for serious illnesses. Far from it. Instead, I’m just sharing my own experiences and throwing out a few ideas, all with the goal of promoting good mental health. Who knows, maybe it’ll even have a positive impact on our physical health too!

Alexandra in Central Otago. My camper truck lower left. Near Shaky Bridge.
Student flats in Dunedin. Full of colour but not as visually enticing as the abodes in Alexandra. Walking my very own (El)Chemino trail!

Pocket lets you save the articles, videos and web pages you’d like to view later.

If you landed on a single post instead of the Home Page then click here please to go to Home >>

BTW current state of health, as of Jan 2023, is pretty good!

The next post/chapter will be titled something like, “Acceptance and Committment”

If you would like an email notification for new posts coming up (at least a doz. planned), then please leave your details here

The content presented on the site is in no way intended as medical advice. Or as a substitute for medical treatment. Guidance from your doctor or other health care professional should always be sought. Be involved with them on all levels.

Chapter 10 – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

An introduction and using breathing techniques while anxiously navigating rough terrain in a 4 wheel drive

Time Line of This Chapter:

Jan 2022 – May 2022

  • Acceptance and Commitment therapy
  • Mini holiday to Mackenzie country
    • Anxiety while driving in 4wd
    • Breathing technique
  • Great book to read.

As I began my first session with my psychologist, she asked me why I had come to seek treatment. My answer was simple – I did not want to get ill again. However, she gently suggested that we work on creating a “values-based wellness plan”. With emphasis on moving forward to things of value that give my life meaning rather than a negative focus of avoiding getting sick. And so, I began my journey into acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that can be helpful for people who are going through chemotherapy. Some of the benefits of ACT-based psychological counseling after chemotherapy include:
  1. Helping you accept the reality of your cancer diagnosis and treatment. (Chemo can be a tough pill to swallow, but ACT can help you accept it and move forward.)

  2. Assisting you in letting go of unhelpful thoughts and feelings that are getting in the way of your well-being. (Chemo can bring up a lot of negative thoughts and emotions, but ACT can help you detach from them and focus on what’s important.)

  3. Providing you with tools to manage difficult physical symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and fatigue. (ACT can teach you how to be present in the moment, rather than getting caught up in worrying about side effects.)

  4. Helping you find meaning and purpose in the midst of your cancer treatment. (ACT can help you identify what’s important to you and align your actions with those values, so you can find a sense of purpose and fulfillment, even during chemo.)

  5. Supporting you in developing healthy habits and behaviors that will improve your physical and emotional well-being. (ACT can help you set and achieve goals that align with your values, so you can build a healthy and fulfilling life, despite the cancer diagnosis.)

All in all, ACT-based psychological counseling can be a great way to help you cope with the challenges of chemotherapy and find meaning and purpose in the midst of it all. It’s like having a personal life coach, guiding you through the tough times, helping you let go of the negative and focus on the positive aspects of your life.

Not long after starting the therapy, I decided to take a mini holiday to Mackenzie country in my 4wd camper truck.

Apart from visiting friends and family I enjoyed camping out for three nights at Lake Ohau in my small Toyota Land Cruiser. And visiting the relatively new glacial lake at Mt Cook National Park.

Camping spot on a glacial terrace above Lake Ohau hidden in the distance
Terminal lake, Tasman Glacier. Mt Cook National Park

On my way back home, I took a long four-wheel-drive route from Omarama to St. Bathans. Despite being an experienced driver, I found myself harboring anxiety on the steep and rough road. As I ascended, the anxiety began to increase, but I decided to use the breathing exercises I had learned from my psychologist. I found that the exercises worked really well and I was able to enjoy the high saddle and the long descent into another river system.

The long descent from Omarama Saddle

I eventually arrived at a very picturesque hut where I met four lovely people doing a three-month trip on heavily laden mountain bikes.

Homestead Hut, Oteake Conservation Area.

The next day, I drove to St. Bathans for a coffee and continued to another 4wd track to the historic Buster Gold Diggings in Central Otago. Once again, I used my breathing techniques and successfully navigated the rough track. However, I experienced anxiety specifically regarding meeting another 4wd on the descent. I decided to go down in the evening to avoid anxiety for the night, and to ensure a clear run. As most folk don’t go upwards in the evening.

Buster Historic Gold Diggings

This experience taught me that while anxiety can be daunting, it can be managed with the right techniques. The breathing exercises I learned from my psychologist were a game-changer and allowed me to successfully navigate rough terrain. Acceptance and commitment theory has given me the tools to build a wellness plan and live life to the fullest.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.

My favourite – words borrowed from the Internet

An outstanding book recommended by my psychologist!

“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” is a book by psychiatrist and trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. The book explores the ways in which trauma can affect the body, brain, and mind, and offers insights into how individuals can heal from traumatic experiences.

Through a combination of research, case studies, and personal anecdotes, Dr. van der Kolk explains how trauma can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems, including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and addiction. He also describes how traumatic experiences can impact the way the brain processes information, leading to issues with memory, emotional regulation, and interpersonal relationships.

In “The Body Keeps the Score,” Dr. van der Kolk offers a holistic approach to trauma treatment, drawing on a variety of techniques including neurofeedback, mindfulness, and body-based therapies. He emphasizes the importance of developing a sense of safety, re-establishing connections with others, and finding ways to move beyond the trauma and create a new sense of self.

Overall, “The Body Keeps the Score” is a thought-provoking and informative book that offers a unique perspective on the impact of trauma on the body and mind, and provides guidance on how to heal from these experiences.

A Penguin Book ISBN: 9780141978611

Aurora from my Lake Ohau campsite

If you landed on a single post instead of the Home Page then click here please to go to Home >>

BTW current state of health, as of mid Feb. 2023, is pretty good!

The next post/chapter will be titled something like, “Ongoing Acceptance and Commitment”

If you would like an email notification for new posts coming up (at least a doz. planned), then please leave your details here

The content presented on the site is in no way intended as medical advice. Or as a substitute for medical treatment. Guidance from your doctor or other health care professional should always be sought. Be involved with them on all levels.

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