Loving relationships are really interesting because loving relationships lead to overall better health. There is less written about the correlation between loving relationships and how they aid recovery. In Super Healing, I tell the story of David Eustace, a kindergarten child who had a remarkable recovery after being hit by a car and receiving a leg amputation. David’s parents stayed by his bedside. We all need this — to be showered with love and attention, but we as patients withdraw, finding it hard to connect. The scientific studies are really fascinating about how love and connections facilitate physical healing. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this chapter.
During my cancer, I was bald, really tired, and didn’t feel like connecting; it was an effort I had to work at. To feel love and love others back is difficult when you’re not feeling well.
In your mind, as a breast cancer survivor, is there anything else you wish you would have done to help yourself heal?
Yes, I wish I had been more willing to accept help. When recovering, I wasn’t specific about how others could nurture me. I’ve always been the type of person who takes care of things when they need to be done. People are willing but need direction; bringing meals is helpful but friends and family don’t know what to do beyond this. I would have given myself more time and energy to heal, if I had accepted the help of others.
Sometimes friends and family feel that they’re stepping on toes?
Yes, I should have issued an invitation. It’s hard to accept being nurtured. My friends were incredibly kind but also cautious — not wanting to step on my toes. I appreciated that, and I now realize that I should have accepted more help and been more specific about what I needed help with.
How long have you been cancer-free?
I’ve been cancer-free for four years. Every year that passes, I say “Whew! Another year passed!” I love getting older.
Do you have any family history of breast cancer?
No, I don’t. I’ve always lived what I consider a healthy life, but there’s always room to improve.
My children recently published a book, Our Mom is Getting Better. This is a book published by the American Cancer Society for children whose parents are going through cancer. My kids wrote about the healthy positive changes I instituted in our home — three veggies at every meal and family walks in the evening.