Today's guest post comes from my wonderful friend Sarah Morford who is the Founder of Cultivate and a Holistic Nutritionist and Chronic Illness Relief Coach.
It's My Party & I’ll Cry If I Want To.
There are a lot of calls I expected to light up my phone on my 22nd birthday; calls from gramma, my sweet aunt who calls me “angel”, my three brothers, and of course, my very best friend who’s made it a tradition to call me at midnight, singing “Happy Birthday”…often in German.
The call I didn’t expect? The one from my doctor informing me the biopsy came back positive; that what she’d once referred to as a “benign nodule” was actually a malignant tumor.
She never used the word, “cancer” though, so with shaking hands, I had to ask…
“Does this mean I have cancer?”
“Yes”, she said, followed by, “Are you OK?”
I dropped my iPhone onto the hard tile, and as it crashed, so did I, pulling my knees into my chest, allowing my spinning head to find solace in their freckled caps.
“No, I’m not OK. You just TOLD me I’m not OK”, I thought.
Yet to my surprise, my pale fingers found their way around my bright blue phone again, leading it’s plastic screen to my wet cheek. I listened in shock to the reassuring words leaving my lips, spoken effortlessly, as though by someone else.
“Yes, I’m OK.” — “I’ll see you in the morning for surgery.” — “Thank you.”
When the line “clicked”, deep heaves broke free from my chest, each one mixed with an unspoken word I did indeed recognize as my own.
“I knew it, I always knew it.” — “Why?” — “What now?”
Within those few short minutes, the uncertain grief I’d carried for over a decade flooded out of me, and my healing began.
It’s All in Your Head…er…Neck.
Believe it or not, I did not set up an appointment with my gynecologist (the doctor who first discovered my thyroid tumor) in order gain a proper introduction to the unexpected “party guest” planning to crash my upcoming birthday party. Rather, I set it hoping to gain access to a form of birth control I thought might offer some relief from POTS (one of the many chronic conditions I’d lived with since puberty, which happened to flare up around my period).
As you can probably imagine, the discovery of cancer came as a shock, and yet, somehow confirmed what I’d always known in my heart to be true: I was seriously sick and only growing sicker.
Unfortunately, the handful of doctors I saw caused me to second-guess my intuition.
According to their tests, my body was fine; my vitals were normal, my heart was healthy, and I showed no signs of disease. As a result, the majority of these doctors believed my ill feelings were stress-induced…and the rest hinted it was, “all in my head”.
So when the decade-old tumor I’d previously mistaken for a large Adam’s apple was finally discovered, my heart sank. I knew it all along—I was seriously ill—yet no doctor seemed to understand…and now it might be too late.
Looking back, perhaps the greatest disservice brought on by the years I spent living with uncontrolled illness was the intense hatred I developed toward my body.
Due to my limited understanding of food’s interaction with my biochemistry, as a teenager I genuinely believed my body was against me. To make matters worse, according to my doctors, there was nothing I could do to improve my health; I was simply unlucky. And so the hate I harbored stuck around…and began to grow.
What I’ve found to be true about hate is that, like cancer, it refuses to be kept in isolation for long. Rather, once planted, it spreads, infecting any and all surrounding appendages until the whole person is infected with it’s destructive poison.
In my case, this played out with me *thinking* my self-hatred was isolated to my malfunctioning body, when in reality, my self-hatred had “metastasized” and was actively threatening my entire self—body, mind, and spirit.
Fortunately, the news of my cancer served as a much needed “wake up call”, as upon hearing the words “positive biopsy”, “malignancy”, and “immediate action”, I realized I had no more time for hate.
So, at 22 years old I finally decided to be my own best friend, and started by choosing to totally love myself again—body included—unconditionally and without hesitation. I knew only then would I be able to effectively start cultivating the health I needed.
Thankfully, I’ve found love spreads just as quickly as hate, and in many instances, even holds the power to drive out hate. This was certainly the case for me, and is why—in regards to healing—I believe it’s absolutely critical everyone understand it’s OK to both unconditionally love something as it stands (flaws and all), while simultaneously working to improve it.
This is why I work to help my clients adopt healthier lifestyles from a foundation of love and grace. After all, unconditional love was and still is the most transformative, healing, and life-giving force I’ve encountered. And while it may require a complete, holistic acceptance of the entities I’m choosing to love, it does not require a dismissal of the positive changes I desire to see grow within these entities.
Overall, the revelation I could unconditionally love my body as it were (in this case, harboring a deadly disease), while simultaneously yearning for improvements within it, changed my life and opened me up to the real, holistic healing I so desperately needed.
What IS Holistic Healing Anyway?
Real quick, if you’re not familiar, the idea behind “holistic healing” is this: everything about you is connected—body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, when it comes to cultivating deep, sustainable healing in your life, isolating one part from the whole doesn’t make much sense.
Rather, when looking to heal one part of yourself, the holistic approach encourages you to look to all of your parts, realizing for example, that the functioning of your digestive system may actually be influenced by your mental processes just as much as by your diet.
Equipped with this new outlook—as well as a blossoming relationship with my body—I confidently dove into my holistic healing journey, which eventually restored my health back to that of my youth…and then some…within a matter of months.
Today, as a Certified Holistic Nutrition Counselor and Health Coach, I spend my days helping other women like myself walk their own path to this same destination. That is, a place where they feel completely in love with every part of themselves, and use this love to make lifestyle choices which honor their unique bodies and spirits.
Here’s what women are saying about their experience:
When I was overwhelmed with the symptoms of IBS, I was disgusted with my body and I thought it functioned against me being able to enjoy myself. Now I am able to read what my body is telling me, and what I need to do to best support it so that it best supports me. Today I love my body and will apply this new skill for the rest of my life! —RP
I have felt so deeply cared for and known through this experience, which is a breath of fresh air after experiencing the isolating nature of chronic illness. I’ve noticed parts of me I thought were gone resurface—like my laugh and sense of humor. I find I’m following conversations again too, remembering things, completing a full day’s work, and even exercising. —HB
I used to spend my days lying in bed, feeling a lot of pain, and running to the bathroom multiple times (often up to 10 times a day). I thought this reality was going to be my life forever. I was sad and out of hope. Today I feel like I actually have a life again. My hope has been restored! My experience with Cultivate has been invaluable, life saving, and life changing. —MH
What are you waiting for?
The revelation that I could unconditionally love my body as it were (in this case, harboring a deadly disease)—while simultaneously yearning for improvements within it—changed my life and opened me up to the real, sustainable healing I so desperately needed.
Today, I do my best to stay in communication with my body all day long, listening to it’s messages and honoring it with my choices. What I’ve found time and time again is when I do this, my body honors me back, providing me with the energy and abilities I require to chase my dreams and cultivate the adventurous life I love living.
More than anything, I hope you find a way to your own place of messy freedom—like mine, letting hate go as I cried on my bathroom floor—so you may begin cultivating the unconditional self-love and strong health you deserve.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. —MLK