In November 1992, this 49 year old woman originally consulted for homeopathic support for her current radiotherapy after radical mastectomy of her left breast in March 1992. She has finished her chemotherapy. I gave her rad brom 30c od during treatment.
She was in a highly nervous state, not due to her cancer, but due to work stress, even though she was mid way (10 out of 18) through her radiotherapy. She would attend for her treatment at the hospital at 9am and be at work at 9.30am. Her boss was being very difficult and unsympathetic and she was also very distressed by her husband’s breakdown and subsequent referral to a psychiatrist due to his own work related stress.
She had previously received two years of homeopathy, acupuncture and osteopathy, and was currently receiving physiotherapy for a frozen left shoulder since the mastectomy. The breast cancer occurred after HRT which she took ‘against my previous homeopath’s advice’. She is of course taking tamoxifen.
Mum’s family: One of ten kids, poverty and poor diet cancer, heart attacks, senile dementia, ‘nerves’, gynae operations and osteoporosis all feature in her immediate family.
Dad’s history: Rheumatic fever, panic attacks, ‘terrible temper’ and cancer all feature in close relatives.
Both maternal and paternal members were all musicians and all performed regularly. She herself has ‘always been highly strung and nervous’ and ‘terribly all over the place’. There was a ‘row between mum and dad the day I was born’. Mum had ‘lots of operations’ when my client was little, leaving her to ‘walk home in the fog alone on my own… I would scream and cry’.
A very shy child, she would ‘organise music festivals as a child but was always to shy to perform in them… was never very good… I could never play in front of other people’.
She was ‘very well’ (apart from mild whooping cough) until her mid 30’s. She had always wanted to act but ‘was too nervous to perform in front of an audience’. Despite her nervous and panicky nature, she excelled academically and had lots of friends. A failed love affair and then a disastrous relationship where she was denied children and eventually abandoned upset her considerably, then she met her current husband and ‘we have been beautifully close ever since…’
She told me that poverty has overshadowed her whole life, that she is in ‘Libran balance (logically) but totally out of control (emotionally)’. She had addressed a great deal during previous treatment (causticum, mercury, sepia, folliculinum, lachesis, calc carb, pulsatilla, thuja, tuberculinum and phosphorus) and burst into tears as she told me about recent events at work.
From November 1992 to June 1993 she actually did very well, troubled by constipation and diarrhoea and letting her physio work with the frozen shoulder, which set off panic in her solar plexus, which ‘I’ve had all my life’. She told me her osteopath reported a twisted spine, misalignment of her left hip which may have been a birth deformity. She remembers her mother taking her to the doctor as a child for a twisted left leg; the GP told her mother she was imagining it!
She was however, panicky and terrified throughout this time, suffering flushing, complaining of her mind ‘running little movies for me all the time’ about work stress and she would confabulate all over the place, swinging violently from one extreme to another. I was never able to get her to discuss anything coherently due to her panicky states.
Although she said the ‘memory of all the pain from the mastectomy operation was in my body’, she would panic and sweat and get upset whenever she tried to address any central issues, and in fact never would do so, preferring to socialise and lose herself with her friends. She was also plagued with temperature fluctuations and sensitivity to smoke, so she would panic and flush in social situations.
She was getting lots of ‘tangled dreams’ and ‘weird dreams’ but insisted she couldn’t remember them. When pressed, she reported anxiety that she’d left something behind, dreams of being in a train, then realising she was traveling the wrong way, dreams of river mouths and flooded plains, going up and down in lifts, trying to tidy up haunted houses, dreams of the house she grew up in, trying to find something she’d lost’. She described the dreams and ‘teasing and not tormenting’, but admitted she’d given up trying to sort it all out as she was too confused.
She was often loquacious, I couldn’t get a word in! Often, she would sob hysterically then laugh hysterically. Her physio was very good and managed to release her shoulder.
She consulted frequently and continued to pour out her distress about ‘games at work’ and her spiteful boss, but she eventually acted to solve this. Both she and her husband resolved their respective work problems and she felt much better, more in control and she stopped consulting in June 1993 ‘for a rest’. During this period I gave her radium bromide, phosphorus, ignatia and opium.
July 1994-August 1995
For a year, she did not consult, but would phone for a chat now and then. She was in a new job, both she and her husband were happy and content. Her GP had advised continued counselling, which she had agreed to. This went very well initially but tragically, as she was gaining in confidence and opening up to her counsellor, this was withdrawn suddenly ‘the counsellor had opened me up, then seemed unable to deal with my upset and panicky state.. I cried hysterically in front of her and she refused to see me anymore. She called me a drama queen’.
This left her very vulnerable and ‘ripped me open’ on the anniversary of her radiotherapy, so she came back to see me to ‘mop up’!
I was appalled at the damaged state, with the return of all her previous symptoms and a flood of old symptoms from the past which left her clamped up tight, with fear and hysterics and suspicion was undermining her relationships; she was ‘scratchy, strung out and tired and upsetting people’. She felt ‘Pandora’s box has been opened and you can’t put it all back in again’.
She has been snapping with friends, has joint aches and clenching around her liver. Her solar plexus was relaxed. I gave her mercury 30c and chelidonium tincture. Throughout Autumn 1994, she suffered headaches and bloating and picked rows with her husband and expressed much anger about the counsellor, which made her cry until she couldn’t stop.
On chelidonium tincture she settled into a painful cough and a tickle in her throat, which acted like hair trigger < stress < smoke < cold. This was ‘an old pattern of ENT stuff’ which had disappeared with the chemotherapy Spring 1992, and the tamoxifen (which she is still taking).
The remedy had helped, but she couldn’t get through the panic, so I returned to ignatia 30c and she felt better, but at this point I felt she went into denial to protect herself from the ‘humiliation and shame’ brought up by the inappropriate counselling.
In September 1994, the cough was very sensitive < thinking about it, dust, smoke, atmosphere, chemicals, perfume, machines at work. She was still working very hard and trying to control everything, but had a ‘sense of everything falling apart’. I considered rad brom, but gave arsenicum 1m which helped and hepar sulph 30c sorted out her loose bowels and cystitis (HO from childhood). Ignatia 30c helped her to stop crying.
Her dreams became ‘pleasant’ but her mood was ‘black’ with despair and exhaustion, a ‘sensation of evil… a great threat…’. She was getting flashbacks to her childhood, fury at the counsellor for ‘taking me to this and then abandoning me’. ‘My parents were not Worldly and couldn’t cope.. I was scared and unable to cope’.
Lycopodium 30c helped her bloating, gas and burning in her stomach, her flushings stopped, her palpitations eased, her sleep was peaceful, but her voice kept going hoarse and cough kept coming back. Her ‘misery’ was < sitting upright, but the spasmodic tickle kept returning, which she linked to where they’d ‘put the tube down’ her throat (operation March 1992).
She was angry about her failed relationships (aged 26 and 41) and said her ‘parents were too elderly and I had no support, no money, no advice’.
In November 1994, nux vomica 30c ‘cleared up my throat like magic’. She described ‘anger at that counsellor locked in my throat and choking me’. She ‘screamed the place down’, nearly pulling the steering wheel off her car ‘I did this in post op’ (March 1992). She then had an anger outburst in the Post Office. Seven days later, she decided to go back into hospital for more chemotherapy and lots of drugs including diazepam. ‘I’m looking them in the eye and I’m furious’.
In February 1995, she came to see me. The consultants had disregarded her cough, and said her lungs were clear, and her liver cancer was in remission. After the chemotherapy, she was bald and anaemic and back at work. ‘What that counsellor did was to open me up like the core of a boil… tempt me to trust her and then slammed the door in my face.. this has happened so many times in the past’. ‘I was so angry… the cough… I didn’t know how to displace it so I got stuck in the anger=cancer!’ (No remedy)
In April 1995, she was regrowing her hair, settled and happy in Art Therapy and calm and content. She has Reynauld’s from the chemotherapy (and drugs to counteract this) and is taking tamoxifen and nifedipine for low blood pressure, and diazepam.
This calm state left as the Art Therapy allowed her childhood fears to mount, and her cough returned. She became ‘indignant with the NHS.. I was tortured in hospital. I know it was my choice, but you have to be very passive and let them do it… the pain was fear, fear of cancer’. She admitted ‘denial about childhood’. ‘I was a nervous child and every adult decision exacerbates this’. She was falling into terror and stuckness and loosing her memory. Opium 30c ameliorated her immediately. ‘I was so frightened that it was all crashing… I felt relaxed in my core… you’re either dead or alive in there… I’ve let go of all the emotional stuff. She is sleeping well.
In May 995, she was picking rows with her husband, frozen in fear from what Art Therapy was bringing up. Her cough was back. She was alternating between panic, anger and calm. She was making jokes about herself to ‘help other people’s fear of cancer… this makes then relax and feel better… some people would take advantage if they thought I wasn’t coping. I can play the whole bit… conscious survival strategy… I can manipulate the dangerous people to keep them safe’. Aconite 200c helped her to relax, but didn’t hold the state.
She stopped consulting in May, and in August her husband phoned to tell me she had died surrounded by friends.
Sue Young RSHom
Copyright© Sue Young