A Cancer Diagnosis Made Me Dip My Toes Into These Spiritual Practices — And Now I'm Totally Hooked
I sank into the plush leather lounger as a soft glow illuminated the room and Dave Matthews Band sang through the space. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and straightened my blond bob wig. I was pale and weak, fresh out of my first eight-day, 24/7 chemotherapy session.
Despite the physical and mental medical marathon I had just endured, a sense of calm washed over my body. I had never seen an "energy healer" before and was completely naive about what I was about to experience. After a two-and-a-half-hour Reiki session with the angelic Maureen Dodd, I had released compartmentalized traumas (the first of many) and was guided through my first vision-inducing healing session. I came out of the mystical-meets-medical therapy feeling lighter and as if my chest was more open, but also foggy from the cryptic illustrations that were painted in my mind.
This was my spiritual tipping point—I was hooked.
However, this transcendental path wasn’t always crystal clear for me. It took a world-shattering cancer diagnosis to open my eyes to spirituality.
How a cancer diagnosis forced me to get quiet.
After six years of hustling in the New York City fashion industry, the material world was the focus and foundation of my life. I worked too long, stressed too much, and was mentally and physically burned to a crisp. It was only a matter of time until my speeding hamster wheel came to a screeching halt when I was diagnosed with a rare soft-tissue cancer known as synovial sarcoma in December 2016. I was only 24, and I was stripped down to my rawest self—someone I barely knew because I didn’t "have the time" to sit with my thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
I reluctantly took a break from my career, which meant that I had more introspective time during my cancer treatment than ever before. Materialism began to fade into the background of my mind while otherworldly healing therapies, wellness cures, and self-care rituals flowed to the forefront.
The more I began to indulge in these spiritual practices and products (think Reiki, meditation, crystals, astrology, and more), the more I noticed a greater appreciation of the universe and a heightened awareness of my purpose evolve. My life was strictly ruled by my chemo calendar and plummeting white blood cell count; yet, as I leaned deeper into spirituality, my crippling anxiety, tension, and self-criticism melted away as peaceful solitude, grounded presence, and a positive perspective cascaded through my veins.
That's not to say that I still don’t experience these negative mind games, because I absolutely do. However, during my cancer, spirituality acted as a guiding light, a source of strength, and a powerful release that comforted me through eight months filled with five lengthy chemotherapy sessions, two radical leg surgeries, and 35 exhausting radiation sessions. And spirituality remains a vital part of my personal and professional life today.
After diving headfirst into the spiritual scene with Reiki, I began scavenging for more "entry-level" soul-satiating products and therapies that would help me physically combat and psychologically digest the overwhelming stresses of treatment.
A few spiritual practices that I now call on daily.
When I first began meditating, I started small with a two-minute practice by Kelsey Patel and gradually increased the time. Today, I meditate both in my at-home meditation sanctuary (a simple meditation cushion, chime, and a myriad of essential oils and sprays) or head to a studio or community space.
I collect (and gift!) crystals.
My spiritual curiosity took an (inevitable) turn to crystals, where I found peace, beauty, and fun collecting these precious gems during treatment. I stashed a clear quartz, rose quartz, and amethyst stone (all thought to be extremely healing) in my chemo tote at all times and started to artistically style them around my bath just like a fashion photo shoot for a high-vibe soak. Now that I have a collection, I take one small crystal with me everywhere I travel and plant it or leave it in a special place for another soul to stumble upon.
This fun ritual is an easy way to give back. You never know when or how you are going to brighten somebody’s day.
I hail from Boulder, Colorado, but I’m not talking about psychedelics here. Because of chemotherapy and radiation, my body needed ample physiological support during that time of high inflammation, so I looked toward Mother Nature’s adaptogens—plants that adapt their function according to your body’s needs. To this day, I still feel like a Hogwarts wizard concocting body-optimizing elixirs day and night.
In the morning, I love making an adaptogenic vegan bulletproof coffee:
I typically top it off with organic cinnamon for an extra kick.
In the evening, I'll whip up a warm and delicious bedtime elixir:
It's important to note that everyone's body/stomach can tolerate a different amount of adaptogenic substances, and this may be a lot for some people.
I study the stars.
Astrology came into my life thanks to a serendipitous introduction to my astrologer, Rebecca Gordon. Every session, we sift through the layers of my persona and my experiences and discover my unique relationship to the stars. It is truly remarkable the clarity and contentedness you have with yourself and your life after diving deep into your astrological chart.
In retrospect, I am confident that my soul chose this cancer journey to propel me into the world of spirituality—a profoundly prolific realm of life that I never knew existed prior to my diagnosis. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but amid a brutal cancer battle filled with grave darkness, I found miraculous lightness through learning more about the soul and what products and practices can expand your consciousness and optimize your life.
Spirituality has introduced me to a captivating new community of friends, a powerful source of self-healing, a new state of mindfulness, and even a new career path. I am not grateful for my cancer by any means, but I am boundlessly grateful that it introduced me to spirituality, because at the end of the day, spirituality is where I found the most genuine, authentic version of myself.
Having a tough time hearing the daily news? Here's a spiritual practice for you.