Amanda Seyderhelm, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

Here’s what I learnt from living in South Africa: pay attention to the tap on the door in the middle of the night. Don’t ignore it. If you do, someone will eventually kick the door in, and rip it of its hinges. A much worse scenario. When illness comes knocking, pay attention to the message it brings because you may be the one who needs to kick the door in.

I wrote [a book] to make sense of my cancer experience. I knew the journey had taken me to a deeper spiritual place, but it had also pushed me beyond my physical limits, and I had many loose ends.

Coming to my senses was the slow journeying realisation that my life did have a purpose. Those loose ends saved my life because making sense of them directed me to that purpose.

I hope my personal story of how I healed and transformed my life after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer at 40, which prevented me from having children, inspires women to pause and reflect on their own crisis. One of the things I learned was that it’s possible to divert the crisis from forming disease if we know how.

My story is not straightforward, and so the book deals with some intersecting events, and raises provocative questions about how far and deep my search for healing and transformation went. The axis point of my discovery and learning was that while the soul remains fractured and apart from her whole expression, the body will form crisis after crisis to try and get her attention. I call this fractured state an apartheid of the soul. My learning was that integration came through finding my voice, and creating a wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Having an IVF scan saved my life because it identified an ovarian tumour. It’s highly likely that the fertility drugs I took contributed to that tumour forming in the first place. But that’s not the whole story. I truly believe that other factors contributed to that malignant growth. Those factors were my loose ends. My sense of disempowerment, being on the wrong track, having a life that was stressful, and a childhood wound. All lifestyle factors. Sometimes it really is time to stop and pay attention to what your body is saying. Cancer forced me to
stop, listen and come to my senses.

Listening was only one part of the solution. The other part was hearing the message, becoming attuned to recognising new, and in my case, life saving information. For that part I used the creative tool of art therapy and meditation. When the busyness of a stressful life slows down, or comes screeching to a halt, it’s an opportunity to start seeing life differently. Seeing what’s there, full stop. Find out what’s missing, what hurts, what no longer works.

I am grateful that my story ended up with my cancer being discovered early enough to be treated. But this was no accident. As I’ve looked back over my journey’s timeline I discovered the many synchronicities. Learning to recognise them as doors opening rather than doors closing helped save my life. Ending up with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer started a new beginning. I didn’t want to die, and making that decision, accepting that it was a choice I had to make, to live, recognising what that meant, was the major turning point.