Cancer is a tough topic to discuss and an even tougher disease to go through, whether personally or with a loved one. It is my mission to help make this incredibly difficult situation a little easier for others.
Through my own experience with an advanced form of breast cancer, I learned how acceptance, honesty, openness, gratitude, and the integration of holistic therapies -- alongside traditional oncology care -- could help me thrive not just after treatment, but throughout the entire process.
It means the world to share my message and my journey with you. I look forward to connecting.
In 2014, at the age of 43, Erika was diagnosed with HER2+ stage III locally advanced invasive ductal carcinoma – aka breast cancer.
Her 18 months of treatment included chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction. Soon after diagnosis, she learned that she could choose how she perceived what was happening. She also became painfully aware that she would need complementary therapies to keep herself healthy enough to endure the rigors of her strong regimen and maintain a positive mindset.
Through the guidance of psychotherapy, yoga, and reading, Erika began to embrace cancer as something happening for her – instead of to her. She decided to have big-picture gratitude for her experience.
But Erika also made a choice to express gratitude for the hundreds of small, everyday things that she already had, adding up to extraordinary benefits mentally, spiritually, and even physically.
Unfortunately, the American oncology community does not widely support the idea of holistic healing. Therefore it is Erika's passion to share her experience of using a wide variety of complementary therapies with as many people as possible -- most importantly physicians,
nurses, and other caregivers who might embrace the efficacy of these and other therapies and become advocates for their inclusion as a regular part of oncology care and recovery.
There is no way out, just through.
Cancer and Other Things I'm Grateful For shines a light on the overlooked details of a cancer diagnosis - most importantly that the body, mind, and soul must interconnect to be at peace with what is happening. Oncology treatments like chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are absolutely indispensable, but unfortunately, they focus only on the cancer itself while not fully attending to the side effects of treatment and the toll they take on the body. Additionally, too often the spiritual and emotional aspects aren't addressed as equal to the physical element, despite their significance in making up a whole person and their contribution to health and healing. Erika shares how self-advocacy and gratitude shaped her journey with cancer for the better, and hopes her story encourages others to find the resilience that lives within us all.
“We are presented challenges in our lives, and until we learn the lessons they are trying to teach, they come back in different ways. I know now what I was to learn from cancer. The lessons are almost limitless. One of the most important lessons is that I remember to ask, 'Do you know where you're lucky?'"
-Erika K. Wolf