the wake-up call
I used to think
that fate had dealt me some very bad cards - and it's true that my life story
does contain more dramas than most.
As a headstrong young tomboy I nearly
drowned twice attempting to keep up with my twin brother and his friends in
their daring games. Always after these scrapes I would get into serious trouble
but my brother appeared to stroll through life without ever being reprimanded,
even though he was often the instigator of these adventures. From childhood I
carried feelings of jealousy that I never knew about. Then as a teenager I was
lucky not to be killed when I was knocked down by a car which I had stepped in
front of after getting off the bus.
When I was a young art student I was
forced to give up my tiny first son for adoption. Life as an unmarried mother
was not an option for me and for the many other girls who fell pregnant after
the "Summer of Love" in 1967. The whole affair was shoved under the
carpet and I was left filled with bitter resentment and guilt as well as
feeling utterly heartbroken.
However I married and was overjoyed to
bear another son who we called Gregor, but when I was only twenty-seven a
cervical smear test revealed what they called suspicious cells. I was too
scared to refuse the total hysterectomy they recommended and it left my dreams
of a big family shattered. .
At forty-two I was almost killed when a
huge falling tree crushed my car; the car was a write-off but I survived.
However it changed my way of seeing life and my twenty-year marriage failed not
long after that.
Then, as if things couldn't get any worse
my lovely Gregor accidentally fell from the fishing boat he worked on, causing
his death from heart failure when he was only twenty-four.
Friends would ask how I had managed to
cope with all those awful events in my life and I would glibly reply,
"Well you have to, don't you?" But the truth was that I had not
managed to deal with it very well at all. I was drowning in suppressed guilt,
anger, resentment, discontent and bitterness; negativity buried deep inside me
that nearly cost me my life.
Unable to have any more babies I had been
blessed with "chosen" sons, twin brothers for Gregor, who came to me
aged three for fostering and at age ten I was able to adopt them. They had
tried hard to make me proud after their big brother's accident and were both
doing well in the army. But I was so obsessed with my own hang ups that they
must have found me a very distant mother in those days.
Then everything changed. I
developed breast cancer in my late fifties and suddenly I saw how valuable and
precious is our time here on earth, and how much of it I had wasted until then,
bearing grudges, harbouring regrets and holding on to resentments.
I underwent surgery to cut out the lump
and was told that I should then undergo follow-up treatment of chemotherapy and
radiotherapy. They told me that if I refused there would be a three in five
chance that the cancer would return. I immediately asked "What about the
two in five chance that it will not?" but they were unable to reassure me.
Fear washed over me and I agreed to the treatment.
However, during my third session of
chemotherapy the vein collapsed and the poison spilled out into my hand,
burning it. I was sent home and told to return next week. But that night a very
loud voice in my head cried "My body is saying NO to this treatment",
and the next day I cancelled my appointment.
I knew that my life was in my hands,
Fifteen years on I have nine beautiful
grandchildren (with another on the way in New Zealand!) who bring joy and light
to my life. I looked for and found my lost son in 2014, who was by then a
handsome forty six year old. Those dark years have been erased by the joy of
finding each other and I am alive again.
Best of all the cancer has gone!
I believe that anyone can do what I did.
This is the story of my journey from darkness to light.
I knew that I had
unwittingly allowed my life to become completely out of balance and that if I
wanted to survive I would need to make some very tough decisions. I had to
address the darkness that had pervaded every aspect of my life and clearly I
was going to need help - from where I did not know!
But the same Universe that had delivered
all those dreadful events in my life began to supply me with the right people,
at every stage of my journey. Synchronicity became a wonderful new word in my
After cancelling the hospital
appointments I feverishly searched the internet for stories of people who had
overcome cancer - and there were hundreds of them! One page that jumped out at
me was an Angel Healing Board who promised a world-wide prayer group of
thousands, who would add me to their list. I joined the forum and was
immediately befriended by a lovely Irish man called David who, on hearing my
story, told me I needed angel therapy. He worked in Berlin but he put me in
touch with his friend Nina - a "Soul Therapist", who lived not too
far from me down in the Scottish Borders.
I made an appointment and spent two hours
in her lovely home, surrounded by angels, rainbows, lovely scents and heavenly
music. Most of the time she just sat with her eyes closed, holding my hand but
eventually she said "Bren, I'm told that you need to change your
Driving home with Erika, my best friend
and partner in life, I grumbled that Nina was wrong: I had a healthy diet with
lots of vegetarian food... However later that week a book arrived for me which
Erika had ordered on line. It was called "Your Life in Your Hands"
and it categorically proved that breast cancer and commercially produced dairy
products are linked: the cancer feeds on the high levels of hormones in
commercially reared dairy cows. So Nina's "Guide" was right after
all, I needed to make huge changes in my diet, but other than reading that book
I did not know how it would be done.
The following week Erika collected from
the cash and carry, in her taxi, a young woman with boxes of organic lentils,
chick peas and other healthy foods to take to her vegetarian cafe in Edinburgh.
In the course of conversation Erika mentioned my quest for a healthy diet and
her passenger took from her bag an invitation to a free talk the very next
Sunday, by Barbara Wren, Principal of the College of Natural Nutrition. She
would be opening a course in Glasgow.
Of course I went along and to start with
I wondered if this would be the right thing to do. But then Barbara said
something that made me sit up and listen intently! "Cancer", she
said, "Is not a death sentence, it is a wake-up call from the
Universe." Wow! This was more like it, for the rest of the talk I was
enthralled and signed up afterwards to take the course.
It opened up a new way of living for me and although I gained
my Diploma, the self-empowerment I gained was a far greater achievement: I
loved the idea that we all have the power to heal from within; when we
recognise that everything in the Universe is connected we can harness the
natural healing cycles that exist within us all. Learning how our bodies
require light to survive was a complete eye-opener for me.
I learned a tremendous amount from this
course, but after one of my fellow students died of cancer, despite having an
incredibly healthy diet I realised that although what we eat affects our
physical body, there are other aspects of ourselves which also affect it. This
person had become a dear friend and I knew she was suffering the break-up of
her marriage, and blaming her husband who she hated with a vengeance. She was
overwhelmed with dark and toxic emotions which, in my view, eventually claimed
her life. After the funeral of my friend it became very clear to me that not
only the body and soul but also the mind must be de-toxified if we wish to
become healthy. It was a breakthrough for me on my journey.
However another friend who I made at the
college, and who is still one of my best friends today, achieved a wonderful
result from her own health challenge. She cured herself from a non-Hodgkins
lymphoma without any conventional treatment at all - using a diet containing so
much carrot juice that she appeared quite orange at times! Her book 'Rabbits
don't get Lymphoma' is an account of her remarkable story. (see link in
Balancing my body with my new-found
knowledge about diet and enlightening my soul by joining an angel therapy group
were comparatively simple procedures, but I soon discovered that my mind would
prove the greatest challenge in my journey towards good health.
My clever mind was an expert in
sabotaging my way forward. Almost regularly every year a lump appeared in the
same place as before and I returned several times to my friendly consultant who
fortunately never tried to force further treatment on me.
But I desperately needed to achieve
the mind/body/ spirit balance that I knew was the key to perfect health.
mind over matter (cells are us!)
The phrase "mind over
matter" is so familiar we use it without thinking - but do we ever stop to
ask what it really means? We have all heard the story of the Russian scientist
Pavlov and his famous experiments with dogs: how first he programmed the
animals by ringing a bell before immediately placing food in front of them. And
how soon the very sound of the bell would make the dogs salivate, even when the
food was not put down. But just look at what that proves: that the mind has the
power to change the body!
It was only as a mature woman that I
realised the enormous significance of this simple phrase. One day I found a
book called 'The Secret Life of Your Cells' by Robert B Stone Ph D. The back
cover reads "The cells of your body, even removed and observed at a
distance, know what you are thinking!" Excitingly, I had stumbled upon
conclusive proof that the body obeys the mind - and I really wanted to learn
how to make my own wayward body do what my mind wanted!
Stone's astonishing book describes the
work of a scientist called Cleve Backster who did experiments involving live
cells harvested from living humans. He took his research a stage further than
Pavlov did with his dogs. One woman was given a movie to watch and when she
reacted to sudden acts of violence the oral cells that had been collected from
her became agitated at exactly the same time, but in a laboratory half a mile
During my search for complete
health I learned the meanings of some very big words, one of which is
'psychoneuroimmunology'. Literally this term means: the mind (psycho-) controls
the brain (neuro-), which in turn, controls the immune system (immunology). To
me it meant that I could actually think myself well!
By now I was beginning to understand the
true meaning of the phrase 'mind over matter' but I longed to meet someone who
could demonstrate first hand that it really could be done. By a lucky
coincidence (synchronicity again) I happened to be in London at the same time
as a supreme master of the subject, Martin Brofman. He was giving a workshop so
I bought a ticket and found him to be one of the most inspiring and powerful
people I have ever met
In 1975 Martin was told that he had an
inoperable tumour on his spine - the doctors said he had terminal cancer and
gave him only a few months to live. But he did just two months of intense
positive visualisation and affirmations and when he went back no trace of
disease could be found. After personally meeting and chatting to Martin after
the workshop I promised myself that from that day forward I would, as he had
done, learn to re-programme my consciousness. I bought his book 'Anything Can
Be Healed' and studied it whole-heartedly, until I had learned to switch off
the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
But even though I was becoming more and
more skilled at mind mastery I was missing some crucial information somewhere
along the line. My body was still misbehaving and the surgeon who I returned to
every now and again began to greet me almost as an old friend. This was very
nice but, no offence to him, I really did not want to keep having to go back to
have more little bits of me cut out.
picturing myself well
Although I never met the
renowned healer Betty Shine. I wrote to her along with an order for
visualisation tapes and she personally replied with a lovely letter filled with
encouragement. Her tapes were fantastically helpful and incredibly easy to
follow. There is one session called 'Mind Medicine', which she recorded
especially for people with cancer, which I listened to so many times that I
almost learned it by heart. On it she describes, in her wonderfully relaxing
voice, how we can all build a healing room inside our heads, which we can go to
for help with anything from a headache to cancer.
Betty Shine's tapes laid the foundations
for healing the cells of my body, and the knowledge that I could help myself to
health made my self-belief blossom like spring flowers. Against the advice of
many well-meaning friends I continually searched the Internet for evidence that
people like me could overcome cancer. All the time I found testimonials of
success which inspired and encouraged me; of course there are plenty of
naysayers out there as well but I told myself, "Brenda, why would you want
to believe what THEY have to say? You want to be a success story, not a
the healing power of thought
One of the most encouraging
aspects of this new opening of my mind was that I began to believe that
anything is possible! As I mentioned earlier, Cleve Backster's experiments on
the cells of our body prove that a physical response can happen some distance
away from the body. So of course it is completely obvious that some kind of
unseen force, or energy is at work. Often I came across references to flocks of
birds and shoals of fish, who move and turn together at the exact same moment,
a very obvious example of hidden energy.
The Chinese have been aware of this
energy for thousands of years - they call it "chi" and believe it to
be the natural energy of the Universe, which permeates everything. From healing
their bodies to arranging their homes, offices, parks and playgrounds they
constantly strive to recognise the chi and balance it perfectly.
I enrolled on a course to learn Reiki, a
technique from Japan that realigns and balances the energy field around a human
body, during the practice sessions I was surprised that the other pupils who I
worked on reported positive benefits - even though it felt like I was doing
Learning Reiki gave me a surge of
personal empowerment and responsibility, which has benefitted me ever since. I
have much more clarity in my life and feel so much more responsible for the way
I am feeling. Also it helped me to see why it is important to just feel love
and enjoy life - I felt it proved that there is definitely an unseen, very
powerful energy whether we are aware of it or not.
Every now and again I would
come across a truly inspiring story and many of them were tales of people who
had overcome serious diseases, especially cancer, without conventional
treatment. Although I was not yet strong enough in my head to manage without
some medical intervention I passionately believed that I would get through this
I searched the internet for
"Affirmations" and at the top of the list came the name Louise L.
Hay. She is a remarkable lady, now over ninety years old, who as a young woman
overcame a cancerous tumour without any conventional treatment. She has helped
and inspired millions through her self-help books and her
"Affirmations" have been translated into many languages.
Here, I was sure, I would find a key to
the next stage of my health quest. I loved her book "You Can Heal Your
Life" because from start to finish it offered the hope and encouragement
that I so desperately needed. Her words on breast problems gave me much food
for thought as I could completely identify with her definition:
'BREAST PROBLEMS: A refusal to nourish
the self. Putting everyone else first
The corresponding mantra, which I wrote
out and carried about with me reads, 'I am important. I count. I now care for
and nourish myself with love and with joy. I allow others the freedom to be who
they are. We are all safe and free.'
Suddenly I realised how far down my list
of priorities I had placed myself and I resolved to put myself at the top -
the body mirrors the mind
Every new thing I learned
pointed to one inescapable truth: the body actually mirrors the state of the
mind. It is a massively controversial statement to make because it implies that
we can make ourselves ill just by the way we think! How can that be true? How
would anyone WANT to get cancer?
But I was utterly fascinated to come
across an article on that very subject by cancer specialist Dr W D Brodie, who
reckons that there is evidence of a relationship between cancer and personality
type, and he says it has existed for centuries. Going back in history to the
second century AD, Galen, a Greek physician famous for his astute observations
of patients and for his accurate descriptions of diseases, noted that women
with breast cancer frequently had a tendency to be melancholic.
In dealing with many thousands of cancer
patients over 28 years, Dr Brodie observed that there are certain personality
traits which consistently appear in the cancer-susceptible individual. He found
that many of his patients had a long-standing tendency to suppress "toxic
emotions," particularly anger, usually starting in childhood. Throughout
their childhood they have typically been taught "not to be selfish,"
and as adults they take this to heart as a major lifetime objective, typically
putting others before themselves as a matter of course.
Dr Brodie noted that a consistent feature
of his cancer patients appears to be that they "suffer in silence,"
and bear their own burdens without complaint, as well as the burdens of others.
stress - the big killer
How one reacts to stress
appears to be a major factor in the development of cancer, says Dr Brodie. He
said that most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, which
is often beyond the patient's control, usually around two years prior to the
onset of detectable disease. This might be the loss of a loved one, loss of a
business, job, home, or some other major disaster. It seemed very relevant in
my case that four years previous to my diagnosis of breast cancer I was utterly
devastated when my son lost his life in that accident.
Dr Brodie believes that not only is it
necessary for cancer patients to make changes in the physical aspects of their
lives such as eating habits, but major changes need to be made in the way they
react to stress. The way they react to stress is due largely to the way they
think about life but it is often extremely difficult to change ingrained
patterns of thought, even in the face of life-threatening illness. Dr Brodie
urges his patients to take charge of their own health and to be active
participants in their own care.
Finding this totally confirmed my own new
way of thinking and I started to go back over my whole life, picking out when
Dr Brodie might have found corresponding tendencies to confirm his theory. Dr
Brodie believes there are certain tendencies common to cancer patients the
I found his list extremely useful in
coming to grips with my own mind and therefore my illness... I could see that
my desire to please others meant that I often suppressed my own needs. At
the foot of the page is a link to "Further Reading", including Dr
Brodie's list, and other relevant material.
letting go of control -
the final key
Discovering Dr Brodie's
theories on the "cancer personality" gave me a great urge to find out
about my inner self. I knew that my surgeon would happily remove bits of my
body until there was no more me left, but I wanted to get to the WHY of my
Now this was a serious challenge - I
would have to work through all the old conditioning and rid myself of all those
automatic responses that I believed were part of the real me. It was thrilling
to find that I could identify with virtually all of the points Dr Brodie
outlined but the big question was HOW do I change myself. Surely my personality
was the real me - wasn't it?
So now I was faced with the hardest task
of my life: I needed to change my very perception of who I was, to lose
everything that had been eating away at my health. I needed to look deep inside
myself and perhaps alter my whole way of thinking. I had to pick my own brain
like never before.
Something was causing my body to rebel
and create the cancer in my breast - not once but several times. I had returned
for surgery four times before it dawned on me that my body was misbehaving and
I had better sort out why. The way of life that had been mine up until now was
I believed that my way of doing things
was correct, that others were wrong if they disagreed with me. At the same time
I desperately needed the approval of others, I even pretended that my emotional
needs were unimportant because I was afraid that people may not like me. And I
really wanted to be liked. In short I was a mess.
I had to make even greater changes. I
continued to attend Nina's Angel Therapy group meetings and one day she offered
us all a session of Past Life Regression. Some of the group looked
uncomfortable, saying they didn't believe in reincarnation but I was fascinated
and duly returned for the session, which was to be a group one.
Although initially sceptical, what I
learned from the three different "lives" that Nina took us through
was startlingly relevant to my own state of mind. After that day hang-ups,
which had plagued me for years, slipped away, never to return.
A summary of my experience can be
found on the "Further Reading" page - see link at foot of page.
All my life I had hated when people tried to control me.
However when my best friend pointed out that I myself could be bossy and
domineering myself I was shocked and a bit hurt. Admittedly I got stressed when
people didn't do what I had visualised but that didn't mean I was trying to
control them - did it?
You see the trouble was that I firmly
believed I was helping my friends and family by showing them "the right
way" to do things, ie Brenda's way! I wasted so much energy trying to
change other peoples' minds, their life-styles and even their beliefs but it
got me absolutely nowhere. In fact most of the time I felt that nobody
understood what I was saying to them and this made me feel cross, frustrated,
resentful, worthless - the list of negative emotions had grown and grown, just
like the lumps in my breast. I was looking for power in all the wrong ways,
pushing my point of view on to folk who were not interested and were so set in
their ways that they would probably never change
Recognising and letting go of this toxic
tendency has been one of my most important discoveries in helping me to achieve
and maintain the good health I now enjoy. It involved serious introspection and
questioning of my lifelong values, therefore it was far from easy, but I knew
that somehow I had to get rid of all this negativity or it would dispose of me.
True control is achieved when we have the
ability to just be ourself; true power is gained when we can allow others to be
themselves. I keep a little card in my purse printed with these words
"Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the
courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference." - just to remind me!
Nearly everyone has a bit of the
controller in them! Have a look at my questionnaire "Are you a Control
Freak?" and you might be surprised - see Further Reading" link at the
foot of this page.
tapping the subconscious
By a stroke of sheer luck
(synchronicity) a friend phoned who I had not seen for years. She was horrified
to learn that I had been for breast surgery four times and excitedly told me
about a course of workshops that would be happening in the very next street to
mine. She said that I would learn how to get rid of all the negative emotions
that had been causing blockages in my energy and making me ill. The name of
this programme was EFT.
I booked myself on to the course and
almost immediately found that I had stumbled upon the most significant key yet
towards getting myself well. I learned that our instructions for living are
written on the walls of our minds and we obey those dictates as though they
were real. They represent the attitudes, opinions and beliefs that we have
accumulated over the years. They are hand-me-downs from our parents,
grandparents, teachers, religion, peers, books, TV and other 'authorities' in
our lives. The list is endless.
Little by little I worked through my own
hangups until I felt truly part of my own health care. I knew that I was on the
way at last.
There is a brief description of how
EFT works on the Further Reading page
power - and how I gave it away
I began by noticing
situations where I got angry or upset and yes, every time it was an issue of me
not being in control! I was a true control freak, but I didn't see myself as
one - no, not at all: I behaved like any other intelligent person - didn't I?
Of course I had been blessed with a good
teacher: throughout my childhood our mother dominated my every move and that of
my twin brother. Obviously this was because she wanted to protect us and as
children we never questioned her authority; she was hugely respected as a
school-teacher and had made a beneficial impact on countless pupils' careers -
but she brought all that authority and discipline home every night. Even when I
left home and moved away her influence continued as she tried to control my
life from afar. I guess it was her way of showing love, but I was surprised
when I realised the power she had over me.
Even as a mature adult I had allowed the
conflict within me to continue: my mother would ask me to do something, I would
oblige and the little girl inside me would grow more and more resentful. I had
never realised that it was I who had given her this power in the first place.
It took several years of grappling with guilt, struggling with self-imposed
limitations and sub-conscious perceptions before I could stand up and say to
myself "Brenda, if you want to do something, do it! But if you don't want
to do it SAY NO!"
My path forward to good
health became very much easier when I learned to detach myself from other
people's difficulties and traumas. But I had to find out how to spot
potentially damaging situations before they actually occurred! Luckily I picked
up a copy of 'The Celestine Prophesy' by James Redfield whilst browsing in a
charity shop one day.
Light bulbs went on in my brain as I read
about the struggle for control that we all have in our interactions with
others. It was exactly the information I had been looking for to put my
relationship with my mother in perspective. Says Redfield: "Competition
for scarce human energy is the cause of all conflict between people."
To gain energy we manipulate or force
others to give us attention. When we successfully dominate others in this way,
we feel more powerful, but they are left weakened and often fight back. The
book, which is cleverly written as an exciting adventure novel, outlines four
main 'control dramas'- Interrogator, Intimidator, Aloof and Poor Me. Each
person unconsciously prefers one of these four to suck energy out of others.
As children we quickly learn to
counteract our dominant parent's technique by manifesting the opposite. For
example the child of an Interrogator will withdraw and become Aloof in order to
win a round. Somebody who lived with an Intimidator when young will often
become a classic victim in adulthood, or 'Poor Me', their true personality
All my childish hang-ups seemed so
unfounded when I became aware of the drama I had been participating in all my
personal peace=perfect health
One of the aspects of the EFT
course that I did which I found incredibly helpful is known as the Personal
Peace Procedure. This process is recommended for long-term work on deep seated
issues. I knew that I definitely had plenty of those! For it to be successful,
you write down a list of every specific event in your life that you wish hadn't
happened, and then perform the EFT tapping routine on them one at a time. It
took quite a while for me to do this but as I went through my list I could feel
long standing hurts and grudges sliding away, never to return -emotion freedom
Some of the things on my list really
surprised me - what promised at first to be a very easy task turned into pages
and pages of bothersome events. Many items had been the source of guilty
feelings - childish misdemeanours and deceptions.
As I tapped away it was as if I was
unpeeling the layers of an onion. I had recognised the childhood jealousy of my
twin brother, but I was shocked at the depth of antipathy I had harboured
against him - even from before we were born I had resented his presence in MY
mother's womb. But far more dangerous had been the angry feelings that I had
bottled up against my own mother, from childhood jealousy over her perceived
favouritism of my brother to the complete refusal to discuss or recognise the
trauma that I had suffered in giving my child away. The guilt of knowing that I
had been a disgrace to the family was still eating away at my fifty-plus year
old body. Tearfully I replayed those scenes again and forgave my young self for
getting things so badly wrong.
When I finally accepted that my mother
had been unable within herself to act any differently, and that all she had
ever wanted what was best for her daughter, I felt a lifetime of dark thoughts
float away. At the end of her life I was honestly able to tell my mum how much
I loved her and how grateful I was for the lessons she had taught me. I am
incredibly grateful for that chance. It made me so happy that she passed away
with a smile on her face, knowing that she and I were finally friends.
Now in my seventies I look forward to a
long and active life with many more lessons to learn, for one thing I have
learned above all else is to have an open mind!