Emma Cannon, 49, is married with two daughters and practises as an integrated fertility specialist in London. In 2005, Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer and used a combination of complementary therapies to support her through treatment at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London.
A long-standing lump in my left breast was eventually diagnosed as breast cancer. It had spread into seven lymph nodes. My consultant prescribed surgery [lumpectomy], chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I felt that, while conventional medical treatment would address the cancer, I would also need complementary therapies to keep me strong and help me tolerate the invasive regime. I use the same approach with my fertility work – it’s about using both together for the best result.
I was more afraid of the chemotherapy than the cancer, and knew I had to change my mindset. Internal conflict can cause tension in the body and I believe that can limit our capacity to heal. So, rather than treating the experience as a battle, I tried to see cancer as my teacher and learn from it.
I had hypnotherapy before each of the ten sessions, plus acupuncture before and after. I also visualised my blood counts recovering between each session. My chemo was never held up and I was able to work and carry on much as normal. The doctors were surprised at how well I coped.
But my hair fell out. On one of my lowest days, some friends came round, put on my wig and made me look pretty. We went for a walk down the King’s Road in Chelsea and I felt I had my mojo back. Then something amazing happened. A man pulled up in his car and asked me out to dinner. I said: ‘You have no idea what this means to me. I will remember you for the rest of my life – but I can’t have dinner with you.’
Not everyone will survive cancer, just as not everyone will be able to have a baby. At times, I would look at my children and think: ‘Will I live?’ I found that, sometimes, we discover our deepest resources during the most difficult times – and that can be transformational.