my journey

from darkness

to light

 we are creatures of light

the backstory

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.

the wake-up call

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, nobody else's.

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 vocabulary!

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 diet."

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.

healing from within

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 Further Reading)

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 away!

mind mastery

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 victim!"

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 nothing special.

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 beastly illness.

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 - Number One!

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 world over.

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.

brain picking

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 illness.

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 not working.

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.

letting go of control - the final key

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!"

misplaced power

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 hidden away.

All my childish hang-ups seemed so unfounded when I became aware of the drama I had been participating in all my life!

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 indeed!

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!

a message from my heart

I truly believe that cancer is not the death sentence it was once feared to be. For my own part I learned to see it, as Barbara Wren said all those years ago, as a 'wake-up call' from the universe for me to change the many aspects of my life that had made me ill. It is my hope that you can do the same.…


important note from bren

I would like to make it clear that if you have a loved one who has died from cancer there is no way that I am suggesting they "could have done better" or that they should not have chosen conventional treatment. For some people accepting conventional cancer treatment is the right thing to do.

Neither am I suggesting that everybody with cancer should do what I did. Bucking the system is definitely not for everyone.

Basically whatever we do it must be what we truly believe is best for us .

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further reading