Be cognizant of the words you speak because they carry a vibratory frequency and whatever we think about and speak about, comes about. Try not to excessively talk about your disease to others in a negative way. Try to choose positive words and phrases about your healing journey. For example, “My body is in the process of healing.” Venting and processing is healthy, but excessive ruminating on disease is not.
Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heidi Sorensen.
Heidi Sorensen is a breast cancer conqueror, certified counselor, holistic health coach, mentor, author and speaker who advocates for women’s health and rights. She specializes in mentoring women with breast cancer utilizing holistic healing practices to help create a more mindful, curative experience with her Dare to Heal signature method. She has worked with and spoken for the Canadian Cancer Society, The U.S. Dept. of Defense, The Ending Violence Association of Canada and international charitable organizations such as World Vision as well as with her own charity to promote the meaningful agenda of women and health.
Find out more about Heidi’s work here: https://holisticbreastexpert.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?
My family immigrated from Denmark to Vancouver, B.C. Canada when I was three years old. I spent much of my childhood exploring the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, when it was more of a remote location than it is now. My father had once been a photographer for the Danish royal family but when we moved to Canada he took a job running a commercial fishing company in Ucluelet, B.C. I spent a lot of my time exploring nature with my two sisters and learning to love the sea. Bears walking along the beach was not uncommon.The impact of the old growth forests stays with me to this day. I love trees!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My mother read a lot of books by the positive thinking author, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and would quote him often. She would say, “Change your thoughts and change your world.” Quotes like this impacted my life heavily. I realized at a fairly young age that my thoughts controlled my destiny and if I held tightly to the thoughts of my desired outcome, there would be a better chance for success.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?
Yes. I actually felt a small lump in my breast right before I got pregnant, but dismissed it because I was only 36 years old and in, what I thought was, great health. But, after my baby was born and the swelling in my breasts subsided, I noticed it again, and this time it was a bit bigger. So, I made an appointment to have it checked and initially I was given a false negative from the radiologist who believed it was just a clogged milk duct because I was nursing my baby. However, I knew it was there before I was pregnant so that didn’t ring true for me. A few months later, I went back to the same radiologist and this time he confirmed it was cancer.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
The diagnosis was shocking, not only because I was so young, but also because I was a new mother and living in my new mommy, bliss state. The idea that the beautiful new life I was living with my family could somehow be taken away from me, was terrifying. The scariest part for me was the thought of dying and leaving my baby motherless.
How did you react in the short term?
I was in shock and very scared, but keeping it together for the sake of my baby became my mission. I worked hard to deal with my fear when my baby wasn’t in my arms. I didn’t want to transfer my fears and sadness to her.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
I am very spiritual, so I relied a lot on prayer and faith. I have also been meditating since I was quite young so this practice helped to keep me calmer. Even though I consider myself a positive person, I couldn’t help the negative thoughts and images that kept bombarding me throughout the day. I would often have thoughts of dying and leaving my baby motherless, and imagining what her life would look like without me, until finally I figured out a way to stop the out of control thoughts. Every time a negative thought arose, I would imagine the thought inside a red circle with a line crossed diagonally through it, similar to a ‘no dogs’ sign. Then, I would say out loud or to myself, “I cancel that thought!” Then I would quickly replace the thought with a positive affirmation, for example, “I’m getting healthier every day!” This process seemed to work. At first I was canceling thoughts all day long but eventually the negative thoughts became less and less. I was also very careful with the words I chose when speaking about my health situation because I know words carry a frequency and I didn’t want to linger on the negative. I believe very strongly in the law of attraction so I tried hard to focus on the positive aspects of my journey instead of the difficult ones. I ate a very strict raw food diet and eliminated sugar, alcohol and processed foods. I exercised every day and made it a point to get out in nature to relax my nervous system. I treated my healing journey as if it were a very important project. I was the director of this project and there was no room for error. I had a baby depending on me.
Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, that person would definitely be my acupuncturist, Dr. Don Ha in Santa Monica, California. Not only is he a brilliant doctor, he was also a huge source of strength and support for me. Every time I would visit him, he would explain scientifically how he was treating me, which I found very helpful. Then, with a big smile he would tell me not to worry and that I was going to be just fine. On one visit, he could probably tell I was not coping well and so he just started singing a Neil Diamond song, very loudly. He’s a very good singer! It made me laugh and from then on, there was often a lot of singing going on in that treatment room. I truly adore him and will be forever thankful for everything he has done for me.
In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?
I believe the cancer would have told me to release the painful parts of my childhood and forgive. I had a father who wasn’t around much and even though at the time that’s the only life I knew, I imagine the feeling of abandonment was heavy in my heart. So during my journey with healing from cancer, I made it a point to do a lot of forgiveness work to help lighten my heart and release the stuck emotions I had been hanging on to. I believe unforgiveness plays a big part in blocking our healing process. John Hopkins did a study that suggests unforgiveness is linked to higher incidences of stress, heart disease, high blood pressure, lowered immune response, anxiety, depression, and other health issues.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before? Can you please explain with a story or example?
I learned that I am more resilient and resourceful than I knew and that I am able to play an important role in my own healing process. Cancer shaped my worldview in the way that I feel very privileged and grateful to live in a part of the world that has options for good health care when many women around the world do not, and that we are all important and worth being taken care of. This experience taught me many things, but most importantly I hadn’t considered exactly how important our thoughts are when going through a life-threatening illness. As the American author, Napoleon Hill said, “Thoughts are things,” and words have power and how we choose to think and speak can influence the course of our lives. For example, after breast cancer, I was asked to participate in a breast cancer awareness walk in Malibu, California. At the check-in desk, there were two options for signs to wear on our backs. One sign had the word, ‘survivor’ on it and the other had, ‘guest’ on it. I picked the word survivor but instantly knew it didn’t feel right for me. When I got home, I took the sign off and realized that the word to me, inferred that I had been through a great struggle, almost didn’t make it, but somehow came through. This didn’t feel true for me and I knew that was not how I wanted to identify myself. From that day forward, I only said that I conquered breast cancer, and never survived it. This takes the power away from the cancer and gives it back to me!
How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?
I work as a holistic breast health mentor now and recently wrote a book about my experiences called, ‘The Booby Trap’ to help others discover various holistic practices when going through the same experience. It is the book that I wish I had when I was going through breast cancer, but couldn’t find. I also speak on the topic of holistic breast health and continue to advocate for the rights of women through various international organizations. I believe we all go through some challenging experiences in life and it is up to us, it is our privilege really, to use these experiences as tools to help lift others up.
What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?
The first misconception is that cancer equals a death sentence. This isn’t true, as there are more advanced treatment options now than ever before, including holistic practices that help save lives every day. Another misconception is that the entire journey with cancer needs to be difficult and sad. This may be true in the initial diagnosis period, however, there are many ways to get ourselves to a calmer and more centered place by including practices such as guided meditation, breath techniques and positive mind-set strategies.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.
- Use the power of thought. When you start to imagine the worst case scenario for your health, stop and say to yourself, “I cancel that thought,’ and then release it and quickly switch over to a new positive thought, such as, “I am getting healthier every day!” For example, if you find yourself slipping into despair over a difficult medical update, you can use this process to stop the spiral of negativity from taking over and ruining your day. You may have to cancel thoughts several times a day, but eventually they should subside.
- Try using mental rehearsal when you are relaxed or meditating. While you are in this relaxed state, Imagine yourself completely well and really feel the feelings of being completely cancer-free. Hold the thought and feelings for at least a couple of minutes. Mental rehearsal is often used by professional athletes before a big game, or in the Olympics, where they imagine scoring, or running their fastest race. The results can be amazing.
- Try eating an organic raw food diet to boost your immune system. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I changed my diet to 80% raw food. Every morning, I made myself a green smoothie with spinach, cucumber, celery and anything else that was green in my fridge! Raw food, especially greens, are loaded with live enzymes and phytonutrients that boosts our immunity and helps with the healing process.
- Use laughter as a tool for healing. Put on some funny movies that make you laugh and hang out with happy people. There is evidence to suggest that laughter strengthens our immune system, boosts our mood, diminishes pain and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. When I was going through my healing journey, I watched funny movies and laughing felt so good. It felt like it was melting away all the stress and anxiety that I was holding in my body.
- Be cognizant of the words you speak because they carry a vibratory frequency and whatever we think about and speak about, comes about. Try not to excessively talk about your disease to others in a negative way. Try to choose positive words and phrases about your healing journey. For example, “My body is in the process of healing.” Venting and processing is healthy, but excessive ruminating on disease is not.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
I believe if everybody on the planet, all races and religions, just sat down and meditated and focused on universal love and healing, we would live in a different world. Meditation brings peace and harmony and connects us to our higher selves and to each other. It would be interesting to witness what would happen with such concentrated, focused energy on love! What would the results be? I’d love to know.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
I would have to say that person would be Jane Fonda. She has been an inspiration to me for many years. I admire her life-long commitment to her activism in helping the world become a better place for all humans. She really walks her talk. I love her bold authenticity and her effortless beauty and grace. I was one degree of separation away from her some years ago. If she does read this — I wish her love and happiness!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can go to my website (listed in my bio above) or social media and find out more about the work that I’m doing with holistic healing for breast cancer or make an appointment for a mentoring session.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you! It was a pleasure.