Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for me it holds a special place in my heart. I lost my mother to breast cancer over 5-years ago right after Christmas. Her experience and her fight have changed my life drastically.
My mother fought cancer for over 10-years before finally succumbing. But honestly, breast cancer doesn't just appear overnight. It had probably been there for many, many years before she was finally diagnosed. As they say, one of the keys to combating breast cancer is early detection and for my mother it might have been too late.
Watching her fight though made me very proud of her and to be her daughter. She was brave when many others would have easily given in. She tried hard to never let the pain show. And if she was knocked down, she got back up and fought again with double the strength.
During that time, I began to understand how important exercise is, including Martial Arts. It wasn't until she was going for a mastectomy did my mother finally let me help. Here were some of the Internal techniques we practiced together:
As no surprise, meditation was a big part of our work together. We spent a lot of time trying to focus on things other than her pain and create a "white" healing light around her. Meditation is something that for many is hard to come by. Our minds are constantly wandering and it's easy to lose focus. Thus, practicing meditation and how to reach that meditative state is a powerful tool for anyone's life and health.
Deep breathing helps to expand the lungs and take in more air. Breathing is one of the body's natural techniques to rid itself of poisons and disease. By learning to breathe more fully, we take advantage of the cleansing aspects our body naturally has. Chi Kung exercise, when done correctly, will leave a person feeling revived and filled with new energy.
The slow and steady movements of tai chi lend themselves easily to one recovering from traumatic injury like surgery. Through gentle movements of her arms and legs, she regained quicker use of her arms again and reduced the amount of scar tissue that could have potentially built up in the area. Movement in general helps to circulate the body's blood and encourages healing.
Breast cancer can be a scary experience. Don't go it alone. The biggest gift that Martial Arts gave me during this period of my life was time to spend with my loved one doing something positive together. If you are fighting breast cancer, Martial Arts can be part of your path to recovery. If nothing else, use Martial Arts as a means for you to reach out and be with other people again.