Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer, will be diagnosed in one in every 370 men and every 490 women during their lifetime. Fiction writer Ellie Holmes reveals how she used hypnotherapy to fight back.
Sylo Magazine: How well can you remember when you were diagnosed with this type of blood cancer? What were you feeling at the time?
Ellie: That’s not something I will ever forget. At first, the doctor said she was sorry to tell me I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As I’d never heard of Hodgkin’s or his Lymphoma, I had to ask what it was. Then she said [it was] cancer. I was stunned and took in very little of what she said after that.
You were diagnosed the same day your dad passed away. Can you describe your state of mind over the coming days and weeks?
I was reminded of that line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’. That summed things up for me. I was numb and yet I had a funeral to organise and a biopsy to schedule.
One minute life was normal, the next I felt as if I had been plummeted into the twilight zone.
What pushed you down the route of hypnotherapy? You must have been sceptical at first...?
The chemo made me desperately sick. I became so reactive that I would be sick in the hospital whilst still connected to the drip and then throughout the rest of that day. It was extremely debilitating.
One of the nurses who could see what I was going through asked if I had considered hypnotherapy. I was sceptical but I was also prepared to give anything a go if there was a chance it could help me cope better with the treatment.
What benefits did you see, in the short, medium and long-term?
I went for my first session on a Saturday morning ahead of my next chemo treatment on the Monday. It was the first chemo session since the ones right at the beginning of the treatment when I wasn’t sick. Whilst I felt queasy I wasn’t actually physically sick from the chemo again and that was transformative for me.
Instead of being unable to function on the day of treatment or the following day, I was able to do stuff. I even sat an exam a couple of days after chemo. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the hypnotherapy.
To what extent would you recommend hypnotherapy to others, for treating blood cancer or otherwise?
I would say to people to give it a go. Make sure you find a reputable practitioner and go with an open mind.
What would you say to other cancer sufferers right now? What advice would you have for fighting their battle?
Cancer batters you emotionally, physically and mentally. On the good days it’s one of those things, on the bad days it’s all three.
I would say to anyone going through treatment right now to be kind to themselves. Don’t try to do all the things you did before diagnosis. Accept the new normal and hang in there. Hopefully, you will come out the other side of treatment with a new perspective on life.
What did cancer teach you about your life?
I undertook what I describe as a 'life audit'. I examined every part of my life from my diet to my work and made changes where I thought appropriate. I learned to say 'No' more often to things I didn’t want to do and carved out time for myself from a busy schedule to kick back and take time out.
I can’t imagine anyone going through something as fundamentally challenging as cancer and not coming out of it a changed person with an altered perspective, something good from the bad.
What's your view of alternative therapies to health more generally?
I am very open to embracing alternative therapies. I went to see a healer as part of my treatment as well as a hypnotherapist and it was a rewarding and enriching experience.
How did your illness impact upon your writing?
It made me more focused. I had always written but after cancer, I was determined to make the most of whatever talent I have. I now live by the maxim ‘I would rather regret the things I have done than regret the things I didn’t have the guts to try’.
I have found that in my writing and in life in general if you believe in yourself, others will believe in you too.
If you would like to find more information about hypnotherapy therapies for cancer treatment, you can find more information at Cancer Research here.