Writing a New Story of Health: A Review of Breast Cancer, A Soul Journey by Patricia Greer
Cancer comes unbidden, an intrusion that evokes fear and brings disruption. How do we coexist with it? Even if it goes into remission or is “cured,” how do we live with the energetic residue that it leaves? While cancer is a powerful force, those affected by it also have power—the power to choose how they will face and fight this frightening disease.
Breast Cancer: A Soul Journey (Chiron Publications, 2014) by Patricia Greer is about how cancer can serve as a teacher and a wake-up call. The book celebrates life even as it reminds us of the vulnerabilities that come with being human. It explores the poignancy of seeing our dreams and constructed reality shattered in unimaginable ways and then rebuilt. Living with hope in the midst of pain, fear, and the specter of death is a challenge no one is ever truly prepared to take on. Each cancer patient will meet it differently.
Patricia Greer writes about her experiences of nausea from chemotherapy, loss of hair, and energy depletion but also about the soul journey she was led on after being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is this soul journey that allowed her to find meaning in her experiences and to work with Spirit to better understand how her cancer journey could lead her to a deeper sense of purpose. The author’s poems, dreamwork, imaginal journeying, and descriptions of other ways to engage the unconscious give the reader a rare glimpse of how it is possible to engage a serious illness with the heart, mind, and soul so that the outcome can be healing at many levels, even if the illness itself is not cured.
Breast Cancer starts with a powerful description of how a cancer diagnosis begins a completely new chapter in a woman’s life. The author explains how she came to make the decision to see chemotherapy and radiation as healing energies rather than energies that would be toxic to her. This was a perception that she, as the storyteller of her experience, found empowering. But, she says, the most meaningful stand she took in writing a new story of her experience of cancer was to use this crisis as an opportunity to plant the seeds of spiritual and psychological growth. She points out that while we might work diligently to establish order, life is messy and inconvenient, and at times, “chaos may be exactly what is needed.” Even in the best-tended garden, things that grow from below during the night can burst through, disrupting the planned pattern. She muses, is the point of a garden to organize or to ensoul?
To explain how her spiritual and psychological growth came about, the author describes images that came to her, some of them through dreams, that gave her the ability to understand and honor what was interior and secret, unknown to her conscious mind. Her belief is that in accessing and working with images that reveal hidden truths, we allow our inner treasure to spill forth. For the author, cancer revealed the existence of encrusted habits she needed to discard so that new possibilities could emerge.
Anyone suffering from cancer or who knows someone who does will find Breast Cancer: A Soul Journey a beacon of hope in the midst of the darkness of the unknown. Its stories of how to work with the hidden wisdom of the soul can inspire anyone in crisis or at a crossroads to move beyond merely trying to think their way to satisfying answers and instead, immerse themselves in a journey of exploring the hidden corners of the psyche for the treasures to be found there.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.