LifeSpark Sessions Support the Spirit

By Bernice Radakovits

(This speech was given at Touching Tomorrow on October 23, 2015, to a crowd of nearly 200 people.)

Fear of public speaking ranks one number on the phobia chart, and death number two. When I was invited to speak at this event I decided that facing cancer was a bigger fear than facing a room full of strangers. Since I have already done that, my courage to speak here today comes from gratitude, as this is my way of saying thank you for the Reiki experience during my cancer journey.

In 1985 at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. My children were seven and nine at the time and I wanted to do all that I could to survive and raise my children. As a young woman, it was very difficult to lose my breast and my husband’s words at that time changed my attitude forever. He said, “You are more than a breast.” In spite of this loss of a body part, I remain whole and am the same woman as I was before my surgery.

I was cancer free until 2002 when I was diagnosed with bone cancer. I took short-term disability to receive treatment, and my co-workers did not expect me to return to work, much less survive this cancer. They were surprised when I appeared one day to return to my responsibilities.

My husband of forty years passed away seven years ago and my daughter encouraged me to join her in Colorado. I took early retirement, moved to Denver, and spent my days exploring my new home state and enjoying the benefits of volunteering and making new friends.

In 2014 I was stricken with both intestinal and respiratory flu. The flu hit me hard as I was ill for seven weeks. During a visit to my primary care doctor, it was discovered that I had a great deal of shortness of breath and I was sent for a cat scan. Further tests revealed that there were ten small nodules around my lungs and that they were cancerous. The breast cancer had returned again, relocating to a different part of my body. In case you may be wondering, I am a non-smoker. Even though this was the third time I was given the diagnosis I had cancer, it still didn’t make it easier to accept the news. I felt numb for weeks while waiting to see my oncologist.

I was preparing for the worse and my inner compass was all over the pass as I tried to be hopeful and yet fearful that this was one battle I would not win. My greatest concern was my daughter Kristin. We are a small family and we are very close. She had already lost one parent and even though she is thirty-five years old, she didn’t want to lose me. I knew I needed and wanted to live for Kristin as she has never married and to be honest I am not ready to leave her.  As a mother, my greatest joy would be to walk her down the aisle the day of her wedding.

My initial visit with my oncologist gave me hope. After reviewing my test results and my previous medical records I was told that my cancer was slow growing and that I would be treated as if I had a chronic illness such as diabetes. Yes she said chronic illness and this sounded like a reprieve. Looks like I am going to be around for a while!

I am currently on a targeted therapy drug that goes after the protein in the cancer cells. There are many possible side effects from this drug. To be honest with you, when learned about them I was frightened to take this medication. In an effort to make the experience more acceptable to me, I named the capsule Bruno. Each day when I take my dose I picture this huge black dog, with enormous teeth, foaming at the mouth, and wearing a spiked collar not exactly what would be a lap dog. I say, “Go get them Bruno” and I believe he is on the attack killing those cancer cells. Bruno remains my companion for three weeks and then I have one week without him.

During one of my visits to Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Aurora, I found a pamphlet about Reiki being offered to cancer patients. The following day I contacted Life Spark and was informed that it might be a while before I would be given the opportunity to enter the program. It is challenging to navigate through the days with the emotions that tag along, fears, and negative thoughts wanting to enter into my life, and now I had to wait for this new therapy.

Since one of the side effects of my drug therapy is fatigue I would find myself asleep in my comfortable recliner as I watched TV or read a book in the afternoon as I usually was only able to get three to four hours sleep during the night. Then something strange happened to me one day. I don’t think I have dreamt during these naps, at least I don’t remember them.

On this particular day, I dreamt that I looked out my balcony window and saw a soft material being used to pave a path. I remember thinking how nice that would be to walk my dog on this new path and how lovely it was that people were installing it and I woke up. I was curious as to the meaning of dreaming of a path. Googling it I discovered the meaning implies clearness of thought, associated with reassurance and peace of mind. It also symbolizes progress. I was pondering it when about fifteen minutes later the phone rang and it was LifeSpark telling me that I was able to begin my Reiki sessions if I was still interested. I of course said yes.

The day of my first session I walked into a welcoming environment, Elements Massage at High Pointe with a friendly receptionist and into an atmosphere that displayed comfort and pampering. Susan met me, and we entered a dimly lit room with a lovely fragrance, and I felt myself take a deep breath and begin to feel a calm come over me. The environment was fabulous. I was invited to lie down on the massage table after a detailed interview to see if we would be a good fit for the Reiki sessions. I felt comforted and cared for, and felt the stress caused by clinical environments leave me, and for that time and I felt it was all about me, and the energy work that helped me. Someone was caring for my body and spirit. After the session, I felt as if I had a long rest, and the anxiety I carried since I received my diagnosis left me, and I felt lighter and so grateful for that experience.

As we met each week I would realize changes that I attributed to the Reiki. After my sixth session, I have been able to sleep seven to eight hours each night. Relieving me from the constant fatigue I felt, and even though one of the side effects of the medication is fatigue, it has not been as debilitating as in the past. My right leg has limited my walking and has given me much pain due to another health issue not related to cancer. I no longer need to take the prescribed pain medication, and now deal with the pain with Tylenol.

Each week Susan would ask me what I would like the intention to be for that session. It was probably the fourth week when I was feeling emotionally strained due to waiting for test results. After our discussion, I found an intention that gave me peace and continued to be a salve for my soul that week.

After each session, I would feel the results of this energy work on my body but mostly on my spirit. It would remain in me as calmness, and reduce my anxiety for about five days. The more sessions I have experienced the better my positive attitude has become. Peacefulness is important in the healing of any illness, and I know it is helping me deal with the side effects of the medication and my cancer journey.

Reiki to me is emotional medicine. I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity in my cancer battle. I understand that I am one of the first people in the LifeSpark program to receive sessions at Elements Massage and to receive sessions without any cost to me. Cancer treatments are very expensive, and the fact that I am given this as a gift has caused me to shed tears at times.

 Thank you to all of you who contribute monetarily to helping cancer patients, thank you to the Reiki and Healing Touch practitioners that give freely of their time, and thank you to Elements Massage for providing a beautiful, calming facility to help with people such as myself going through our cancer journey. You are making a difference in our lives as cancer survivors.

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