From Elizabeth DeRosa of Finding The Way Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Author
The Gifts I Received from Having a Benign Brain Tumor
“I am sorry to tell you this Elizabeth but, you have a large acoustic neuroma”. Those were the unexpected and terrifying words that came out of my doctor’s mouth when I went to see him after having an MRI to determine the cause of my symptoms. As you can imagine, my world stopped and I immediately thought I was going to die. What is a person to do after receiving news like this?
This journey has had many challenges and moments of uncertainty, but it has also taught and continues to teach me many important and valuable lessons that I have incorporated into my daily life and self-care practice. I believe some of these gifts or lessons can be applied to anyone’s life regardless of their health or medical issues.
The lessons I have learned include not only the reality of physical strengths and challenges but more importantly, it is teaching me the genuine and heartfelt importance of emotional wellness.
I share with you now some of the actions, tips, and ideas that I was gifted with during this time to help me overcome my diagnosis and surgery side effects. I do that to bring awareness to the idea that healing is a journey of the body, mind, and spirit. Healing is a process that requires your attention and commitment.
- Life is a beautiful and mysterious gift. Being diagnosed with a medical condition is not a punishment (regardless of outcome) and there can be gifts that you find along the way if you are willing to open your eyes.
- Somehow during this difficult time in my life, I was surprised and blessed to feel the Grace of God in ways that I had never experienced before on a conscious level. I was a witness to Grace and it’s many forms including humility, love, patience, faith, vulnerability, forgiveness, struggle, patience, empathy, freedom, laughter, gratitude, and hope.
- I have learned to begin to understand my body in a different way moving forward. I listen more closely to the messages it is sending me.
- Receiving. Moms typically give of themselves first before they ever think about their own needs. To be the person who needed help and allowing others to give to me was one of the most valuable lessons.
- Advocacy. I identified what I wanted in regard to outside support and began putting that in place to help with pre-surgery concerns and post-surgery side effects. I researched my type of brain tumor, doctors and hospitals, procedures, insurance coverage, post-surgery specialists, and so on to help me make the best decision regarding these important issues. I was an active participant in my treatment plan. Ask questions and get second and third opinions, if necessary.
- Use an integrative approach to health. I utilized alternative modalities including acupuncture, holistic therapy, cranial sacral massage, castor oil packs and homeopathic remedies, holistic nutrition, reiki, and aromatherapy. I also worked with neurosurgeon, ENT, occupational and physical therapist, audiologist, and neuro-opthamologist. I worked with incredible people and healers to assist in my recovery.
- Communication. I learned the importance of effectively communicating with others. I gained an ability to express myself in a way that allows for more personal freedom in deciding what is right for me.
- Boundaries. I learned the importance of setting appropriate boundaries with people and myself. Being able to set boundaries allows me the freedom to live from an authentic place of being.
- Healthy eating has provided me with proper nutritional balance and has lowered inflammation in my body.
- Life is not so serious and there is room for laughter and to view the world through the eyes of a child.
- Simplicity – We have overcomplicated most aspect of our lives. We can reduce stress and the “busyness” to create more harmony in our lives or we can learn to live in harmony with ourselves despite the stress and chaos.
- Perfection – I have learned that there is no need to try and be perfect. It takes so much our daily energy to strive for others to see us as “having it all together”. I embrace the thought that I am not the perfect mother, wife, neighbor, or person. I do my best but also know that I do not have to waste my time and energy trying to create that image for myself. Letting go of this thought has created independence in my life. I believe it has also allowed others around me to be who they are without the pressure of being “perfect”.
- We are all in this together!
- A diagnosis or medical issue does not define who you are as a human being. It is part of your life’s journey, but we don’t need to limit our beliefs about ourselves. We are so much more than our physical limitations.
- Our bodies are bio-computers with the ability for self-healing. We can learn how to activate those healing powers within to bring well-being to many areas of our lives.
This has been a long and challenging road as I learn to navigate my world differently with physical challenges, but, changing my thoughts, being an advocate on my behalf, communicating more effectively, and accepting where I am today has given my life a new purpose and allowed me to humbly see the beauty and mystery of life.