I have shed the anger, frustration, guilt, fear and the internal ugliness that cancer left me with. My doctor is amazed at the change within me. The SMOV Mermaid’s Journey Empowerment and the workshop with Rebecca vacation has given me the gift of knowledge and empowerment to go forth into my own journey with grace, love and joy
— Kathi Stannard, New York Breast Cancer Survivor

Stress. Be it emotional or physical, is something we all try to avoid and find unpleasant; however, it is inevitable and part of life. Cancer is one of the most stressful events a person may ever endure. The day cancer treatment ends, a new chapter begins and with it a new set of challenges including fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, grief, and a variety of situational stresses related to job, relationships and income.  Supporting emotional health is a critical first step in the recovery from the devastating effects cancer leaves behind.  Rebecca has worked with many clients over the years for managing the symptoms of cancer treatment and to help to identify and clear any hidden emotional stressors associated with their cancer. 

Attention Breast Cancer Survivors!

Send Me On Vacation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of breast cancer patients. Send Me On Vacation offers an internationally acclaimed emotional renewal and support program based on the unique interactive imagery approach developed by Rebecca Taylor Shaw, CCH, CMT. This innovative empowerment program offers an in-depth, personal, hands-on experience teaching coping skills to effectively resolve emotional stresses encountered by breast cancer patients so they can return to their lives with renewed spirit, energy, and hope.

Rebecca donates 4 - 5 weeks per year of her time to traveling to various destinations around the world to host emotional healing workshops which she has created specifically for breast cancer survivors called, The Mermaid's Journey.  She is passionate about helping to empower women to renew and restore on a mind, body, spirit level.  If you are a breast cancer survivor and you are interested in attending one of these workshops either as a paying attendee or a subsidized recipient, go to Send Me On Vacation to get more information about the next emotional empowerment vacation.

In considering how hypnosis can help specifically with cancer or any other life-threatening disease, we should take a look at the different aspects of receiving such a diagnosis.

First, there are the feelings that arise from hearing the words, "You’ve got cancer.” The spectrum of feelings is broad and, on the less than positive side, can range anywhere from fear to anger to hopelessness to blame or shame to a diminished sense of self-esteem or self-confidence and all the emotional shades of gray in between.

Second, there are the possible physical effects of the disease and the treatments (which often are just as dreaded as the disease) such as pain, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and a compromised immune system—just to name a few.

Third, there are the personal issues that can sometimes interfere with the healing process such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, and the like. Just as the spectrum of feelings, side effects and symptoms of such a disease as well as the personal issues can be broad, so are the uses of hypnosis.

  • Teaching a patient the use of self-hypnosis to control symptoms or side effects can powerfully impact them by providing them with a sense of mastery to help counter feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
  •  Deep meditative hypnosis produces feelings of calm and tranquility that fosters the immune system’s ability to function at a maximum level, aiding the body’s ability to protect and defend itself against disease.
  • The side effects of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and loss of hair may be successfully addressed through hypnotic suggestion according to both scientific research and anecdotal experience.
  • Helping an individual tap into and use their inner resources and strengths fosters feelings of self-empowerment to deal more effectively with the circumstances of their lives.

Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio found that people with cancer who used imagery while receiving chemotherapy felt more relaxed, better prepared for their treatment and more positive about care than those who didn’t use the technique.

Several studies suggest that imagery can also boost your immunity. Danish researchers found increased natural killer cell activity among ten college students who imagined that their immune systems were becoming very effective. Natural killer cells are an important part of the immune system because they can recognize and destroy virus-infected cells, tumor cells and other invaders.  

In another study…a group of metastatic cancer patients using daily imagery for a year achieved significant improvements in NK cell activity and several other measures of immune functioning.

At Michigan State University, researchers found that students could use guided imagery to improve the functioning of certain white cells called neutrophils, important immune cells in defense against bacterial and fungal infection. They could also decrease, but not increase, white cell counts. At one point in the study, a form of imagery intended to increase neutrophil count unexpectedly caused a drop instead. Subsequently, students were taught imagery explicitly intended to keep the neutrophil count steady, while increasing their effectiveness. Both of these goals were achieved.

Areas of Application:

  • Imagery for Stress Reduction
  • Cancer Elimination Visualizations
  • Immune Cell Imagery
  • Imagery for Pain
  • Imagery for Sleeplessness
  • Depression Imagery
  • Imagery to Identify Emotional Triggers
  • Imagery to Encourage Emotional and Physical Healing

Recommended Reading:

  1. Getting Well Again, by O. Carl Simonton, M.D.
  2. The Healing Journey, (Restoring Health and Harmony to Body, Mind and Spirit) by O. Carl Simonton, M.D
  3. Healing Yourself (A Step-by-Step Program for Better Health Through Imagery) by Martin, Rossman, M.D.
  4. Staying Well With Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek