As integrative health care providers, we have a great appreciation and understanding of the intracies of the healing journey, and we recognise that cancer does not just happen to an individual – but to entire families. The journey for the patient may feel solitary and tinged with so many emotions – anger, fear, disbelief, sadness and helplessness to name a few. Often the patient is so caught up in the new “identity” of being seriously ill, that time stands still and they become very different versions of themselves whilst grappling with the diagnosis, and then hopefully finding the ultimate freedom – reclaiming their health and vitality. Too often those who walk beside them are forgotten. We see all of the same emotions in the loved ones who accompany our patients in treatment. It is natural – the emotions can vary and come out in differing ways, but really at the root they are one and the same. We see support people who have more pronounced reactions to the same fear, disbelief, sadness and helplessness – and even though they are trying to do their best to help, really what we want them to do is explore these feelings and learn the same healthy ways in which to deal with them that we teach our patients. Why? Because similar to a flight attendant encouraging you to secure your oxygen mask before attempting to help your child in the case of an emergency, the truth is – if we are not in a healthy emotional space ourselves, it is impossible help others. In some cases, we even see support people unknowingly sabotaging their loved ones’ healing experience – usually with the purest of intentions. Support people are as critical as the treatments themselves in shaping the healing environment and lifting our patients into a positive and curative space. In the case of any of the female reproductive cancers, this is so important – the link between emotions and our reproductive organs is especially pronounced. We have provided our top three tips below to help you to be a star wingman/woman – and assist you to guide your loved on one of the most important journeys that they will face.

1.Be Present – with your own emotions, and those of your loved one. One of the biggest things that support people worrying about is saying the right thing, or not saying the wrong thing! We forget that our most important role is in fact to listen and care. Healing is hard work – and some days are a lot more taxing than others. Celebrate the good days and honour them in moments of despair. When your loved one feels angry, tired, in pain, sad – respect and give space to those emotions too. The cleansing that needs to occur on an emotional level for our bodies to truly heal is critical. Suppression of emotions is one of the quickest ways to revert back into accumulating toxins – spiritually pervasive in nature, they are devastating to the physical form. We always say that tears – saltwater – are nature’s way of emotionally cleansing. Let them flow! The same goes for your own feelings… on the days that it all feels a little too much, practice self-care. Rest, get a massage, journal, sit at home and cry – do what you have to in order to be clear and present for your loved one. One of the most important feelings to a patient, is that they are not alone. With great love, miracles happen.

2.Be flexible and keep an open mind One of the most difficult parts about embarking upon an integrative health journey is the scepticism and doubt that so many people have over the treatments. Everything that we do at Akesis is supported by science, but it is not the route of conventional thinkers. We encourage all loved ones to question anything and everything – in a constructive way that does not instil doubt and fear into the patient’s mind. Remember that this is the path that your loved one has chosen – and in order for it to be successful, they don’t just have to believe it will work – they need to know it. If you have grave concerns, then set up an appointment with the medical staff or patient care team. Leave the negative medical jargon at the door – words like incurable, late-stage and terminal need never be uttered again. Change your thinking into this illness being a divine tap on the shoulder – opening up a world of opportunity to change direction – the possibility to live a happier and more fulfilled life is just around the corner. Learn about the philosophy of metabolic diseases and healing – take part in all of the workshops and change your lifestyle too! Nothing could be more supportive, and you will walk away healthier and reinvigorated too.

3.Relinquish Control Part of having cancer is the feeling that life, has all of a sudden, become catastrophically out of control. The patient often feels at the mercy of their chosen healthcare provider. Many support people react to their loved ones fears and helplessness by trying to wrestle back that control, and keep a tight reign over their programs. In many ways, this can be detrimental. Firstly, it is imperative that the patients learn what made them sick and how to change their lives in order to remain in an optimal state of health when they return home. Being too overbearing negates the self-awareness required to navigate this journey, which is a critical part of the healing process. Other ways in which control can manifest negatively is in dominating doctor’s consultations. This is the time when the patient should be asking the most pertinent questions relative to their program and engaging with their treatment. As loved ones we want to see them getting better, but too much focus on quick progress – especially when related to numbers like tumor markers and other lab diagnostics, fears about cancer spreading, amongst other things, can really change the dynamic and allow negativity to needlessly set in. Healing takes time, and it is a winding journey.

In closing, remember to laugh. There could be nothing more soothing to the soul. Congratulations for making the ultimate sacrifice and supporting your loved one back into health. These journeys are often as rewarding for the support people, as they are for the patients – and we hope that you have found some good insights and guidance here.