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Listening to Your Body

by Dr Susi Strang Wood(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 52 - May 2000

Sue is a remarkable woman. She smiles knowingly, talking from her inner being, feeling the well of emotion inside, her gratitude for life. The first recall she has of leaving hospital after her mastectomy four years ago is "feeling the first breath of fresh air .... it reaches right down .... its sheer joy ....Everything has more depth .... you are glad you've been given the chance to see life so differently. Before everything was taken for granted, we accept that this is the life we have been given, we think that's all there is. That and the pattern it follows. You are made to look, everything has depth and meaning.

Sue Tapster
Sue Tapster

"Cancer was a stage in my life. I could never say I wish it hadn't happened. It was a stage like any other, like being a single parent, like a relationship that didn't work, just a job I did at British Steel. We are taught to suppress our feelings. Perhaps I can only deal with one stage at a time.

"And now I've been given the chance to feel through feelings, to meet the people I've met. There is a bond. I could never express the depth of feeling inside. I could start to say simple things that give warmth, rather than surface words which express nothing.

"I'm a private person. This depth of emotion wells up. You want it to flood and it stems back – a pop song… the people around me, every emotion is raw.

"And now responsibility is wandering away. Rob (my son) is growing up. There is more space to share me in my life.

And now I make more choices in what I do and I'm taking more charge of what I don't do. Rob's leaving home, another stage closing. And there is something more for me to do. I am not 'retiring' at sixty in five years time ... a cottage in the country, more learning, more knowledge, something creative, writing, charcoal perhaps. Anything that's creative comes from me.

I want to give back.

I want to express that creativity, that well of feeling, to be able to transmit to someone else, to share ... to make people understand that if you really look at life – what value feelings like that can give to your life. You can't buy it.

And now it's time to put the lid on the last few years. I want my body back. I came off Tamoxifen in August. My body didn't feel my own. After discussion with the consultant, he agreed. I feel well inside, the hurdles are behind. I want my body to be my own, I want to go where people don't know, where I am not 'poor Sue'.

Reconstruction would be the final chapter of the cancer. It's time to move on. There is too much of a jumble in my head till the chapter is closed. That's not saying the chapter of cancer has stopped my life. It's been a great learning.

It's a time in my life when I've found myself, most of all.

Stemming from that initial sheer joy you are still alive, everything is different.

The cancer made me stop and look, it made me look.

To gain from the future, you need to look back. It's not looking back and saying, that was a mistake. It's looking back and learning, reliving experiences and events and being more capable of picking out the things to take forward. It's not to be ignored. Otherwise why did you go through it?

You have to pick more daisies from the past to gain from the future.

Reconstruction will make me whole. It's my flesh, my skin, my muscle. This is me. Fortunately there is enough, there to take". (She laughs and pats her tummy.)

I can feel even more that my body is mine. I'll wake in the morning and know there are two. It will make me physically comfortable. I'll feel it's behind me. It might just turn the key.

It's up to me. I have sat on the fence too long. I'm not going to keep getting the chance.

Life is so valuable, it will be a waste not to take the next step.

I ask, "and if you don't express this wealth of emotion will it be wasted?"

"Thank you" Sue says. "The Key Turned.

Everyone shines in the same way in their life. I'm choosing when to climb the fence. It's coming to terms with things, me knowing when I can climb right over it. It's time to throw the mask off, the cloak off. I have been carrying a heavy load. It's time to go forward, to find where I can shine. You can't measure that word shine.

You'll know yourself when you are shining when you feel complete and whole.

I'm there, wherever there is, at that moment. If you do it once you know you are capable of doing it again."

 ask, "What have you learned from your cancer?"

To recognise myself

To know myself

To value my friends and family

To be more accepting of my life and situations

To be calmer

 To be deeper

Becoming whole is a progression in life. It's what you learn each minute, each hour, each day.

Dr Susi Strang writes

As a general practitioner, I was always fascinated by why some people are well after cancer and some are not. What is the difference that makes the difference?

For some, cancer is a pause button in the journey of life, a chance to re-mission their purpose, an opportunity to explore new ways of being in harmony with mind and body.

Deepak Chopra in his book Quantum Healing introduces the holistic view of mind and body, that one is the other. Our bodies work perfectly and heal easily unless we interfere with the balance of mind and body. Our mind has a natural blueprint for perfect health.

Symptoms are merely messages on mail, body@mail, our body telling us that we are not paying attention to our health and wellbeing.

More recently, as a psychotherapist and trainer in personal development, I have talked with many people who recognize they created their own illness, when life had become even more hectic, even more out of their control. Our natural blueprint is for perfect health. Illness is merely a symptom of dis-ease between mind and body.

When we ignore minor symptoms like colds and flu or worse work through illness, we are not paying attention to the message of disharmony between mind and body. Every cell is listening to our internal chitter chatter. Our use or abuse of our physical well-being is reflected in the way we talk to our cells and ourselves.

My study of how women cope differently with breast cancer had led me to draw certain conclusions.

Women who pay attention to the choice they have been given learn to:

• put the 'I' back in their own life
• say 'No'
• love themselves
• indulge themselves
• 'be' rather than 'do'
• to look forward to their future and let go of the past
The last is the most important.

We often store our painful memories with the resentment, frustration, sadness and guilt glued into the experiences and locked into our minds and ultimately our bodies.

The negative feelings cause a functional blockage in our perfect blueprint for health and find expression in repressed immune systems, high blood pressure, depression and, if totally unexpressed, can result in major illness such as cancer.

So readers, have you been unwell in the past six months? Did you spend the Millennium in bed, like I did with influenza? Did you take notice? Did you stop, look and listen to your body? It was attempting to communicate in the only way it knows how. Having paid attention, have you changed your schedule? Are you still putting the world and his wife before yourself? Are you still pushing your body to the limit? How are you speaking to yourself and others? Are they 'grinding you down?' Are they 'getting under your skin'? Are people a 'pain in the neck'? Who is in charge of your life?

The way we use our words reflect our relationship with our bodies. So pay attention. For those of you who know that the past just won't go away, there is an elegant and painless way of letting go of these negative emotions which glue our experiences and harm our well-being. Time Line Therapy® which was created by Dr Tad James is available through registered Practitioners.

In the form of brief therapy which affords you the opportunity to learn from the past and reinform the future, you are assisted to let go of the negativity and restore your natural blueprint for health.

Having let go of the unuseful emotions and beliefs which limit us, we are then free to make new choices and decisions which transform our lives and bring joy and health into our present. We can recreate our own future.

Picking more daisies or pushing them up?

The choice is ours.

Isn't it wonderful that we have that choice?

Laburnum and Lilac

...the golden glow, the lilac hue, together they stand in the sunshine above, the cotton wool clouds in the blue sky, a green carpet of grass below. Emotions well up through every part of my body, memories forever now. All I can see through the tears is Laburnum and Lilac; through the fears, through the happiness, through the relief ...

Sue Tapster – her first trip after mastectomy

The Gift

What would you like for your birthday?
Another birthday.
What would you like for Christmas?
Another Christmas.
Please .........

Sue Tapster (December 1996)

Measure of Time

A second – such a brief measure of time
Each so fractionally different from the last to the next
A measure of time ... that grows into a life.

Sue Tapster (January 2000)


Please let me come in
Let me open the door
Please let me just occasionally
Be able to lean on someone
To find support
By knowing someone really knows how I feel
really understands how I feel
because they have felt that way too.

Perhaps today I'd like someone to lean on.
Just someone to give me a little support,
And then, when I have collected my thoughts again
and my body and mind feel whole again
Then my strength will be there
For me to support someone tomorrow.

Sue Tapster (January 1998)

Just Words

One word – and more words
To become a sentence – then more
To build a story
A story that is life
You choose the words
You choose the life
And having chosen those words
Let them be said with warmth and love.

Sue Tapster (January 2000)

Learn To Live

I allowed you in
Without knowing
Without realising
You lived with me, within me, inside me
Who knows for how long?
When you arrived? – I'm not aware
How long you sheltered within me, grew within me?
You attached yourself to me, I became your host
Without knowing
Without realising
No polite invitation. You invaded me as an enemy – so I'm told, so I'm led to believe.
Only there to destroy me.
But you didn't – I ceased to exist, I began to live.
You gave me life,
My saviour, my friend.
You had to be removed, physically removed – but can never ever now be mentally removed
You're always there to walk alongside me in life – my glorious life.
You're shown me, given me – Life – so very, very precious
Why did I not realise before this invasion?
Was it a battle? who won?
Because I live – did you die?
Or do you just lie dormant? – just waiting for the right moment to invade again
Waiting to see who's strongest – me? you?
I don't hate you – for now I live, for now I'm complete and so is my world.
No harsh thoughts, feelings
No senseless jealousy, greed
No "what if", "if only"
Love and Gratitude – Yes
Air, breath, life – no charge, no cost
Grass, trees, flowers, sun, rain, sky, clouds – no charge, no cost
Days, hours, minutes, seconds – no charge, no cost
What value, what treasures
Life – and it's mine.
Perhaps you'll come back, perhaps you'll try.
But now I'm strong because of you.
If you come back I'll be stronger still – so rest in peace
Don't resurrect destruction and pain
Good over bad
Let me savour the good that can come from you
Let me let the world know – let me defend you
Let others learn to live.

Sue Tapster (March 1997)

Further Information

A list of Practitioners of Time Line Therapy® is available from the Time Line Therapy™ Association, PO Box 40427, Eugene, Oregon 97404 USA. Tel: 808-941-TIME (8463); Email:
Deepak Chopra, MD Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. Bantam New Age Books. 1989.


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About Dr Susi Strang Wood

Dr Susi Strang Wood MRCGP, having enjoyed a career in General Practice and Occupational Health, now integrates her diagnostic skills with her extensive training in the applied psychology of performance excellence. She utilises her experience and expertise to pursue her interests in the development of people. Experienced in psychotherapy, executive coaching, recruitment and the management of change in large organisations, Susi’s raison d’être is to enable success in others.

Internationally trained by key developers and pioneers of NLP, Susi has been applying NLP in business, training and psychotherapy for over twenty years. UKCP registered as a psychotherapist, since 1995, she is a past Chair of the Accreditation Panel of the Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy and Counselling Association and certified as a Master Trainer of NLP. Susi’s presentation style is personal, lively and thought provoking. She may be contacted on Tel: 01287 654 075;

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