Finding out you have cancer is immediately overwhelming. Fortunately, with good doctors, there’s an ever-increasing chance that you will survive and thrive physically for years to come. But the emotional overwhelm can stay with you for a long time, because a diagnosis of cancer brings up the specter of dying, which is a traumatic experience. The huge emotions that arise create a charge in the nervous system. Along with physical treatment, a method called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) can help alleviate the nervous system charge and calm down the fear, anger, and grief that often result following a cancer diagnosis.
What is EFT?
EFT, also called EFT Tapping, is an “energy psychology” whose basis is similar to that of acupuncture-that there are meridians in our bodies through which energy flows. When everything is fine, the energy is flowing freely, but when we’re ill or in pain, something has short-circuited the energy system. In addition to physical pain and illness, as part of this short-circuiting we often experience painful emotions such as grief, fear, anger, depression, symptoms of PTSD and trauma, phobias, etc.
Trauma can be caused by injuries to your body, such as accidents, falls, assaults, physical abuse-and surgeries. Or it can be caused by emotionally painful events, such as the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and the pain and stress of various tests and treatments.
In most cases, EFT Tapping is very effective in alleviating the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis, the stress of treatments and the emotional after-effects of surgeries by helping the various emotions move through the body and nervous system surprisingly quickly.
Emotional Effects of a Cancer Diagnosis
The first thing that happens when you hear you have any level of cancer, even the very beginnings, is that you automatically feel stressed or traumatized. Right at the beginning of treatment, even before anything else happens, it’s traumatic because it’s a shock. There’s a feeling of urgency and a feeling of unreality. A feeling of wanting to escape out of your body and a feeling of being trapped. Your nervous system veers between high stress and the numbness or spaced out feelings of trauma. To move this trauma through the nervous system, EFT Tapping can often work quite quickly.
Emotional Effects of Cancer Treatment
Procedures following cancer diagnoses can include various kinds of scans and biopsies, chemotherapy and radiation. One of the things that makes tests and treatments so stressful is that, for many people, they have no idea what the experience will entail-will it hurt, how long will it take, will they be alone with medical personnel who are strangers, and more. If a test or procedure does hurt, or if other complications arise, it can create fear, which can stay in the body and nervous system long after the event is over. Since stress and trauma accumulate in the body, it’s good to have a way to clear them out.
Trauma of Surgery
Even though surgery is often one of the main parts of healing cancer, and so, in many ways, it’s a relief, the body often (or usually) experiences it as a trauma. The body can experience it as an invasion and it feels helpless due to the anesthesia. In addition, we are unconscious during surgery, which means we’re not aware consciously of what is occurring. The trauma, therefore, often stays under the surface and later can affect how we react to stressful experiences in general.