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Alice, 40s - Case Study 4

Alice was a woman in her forties who had recently undergone surgery and radiation to treat a breast cancer tumor discovered several months earlier. She was an intelligent, composed woman who felt that imagery and visualization had already been enormously beneficial in helping her to tolerate her treatment and recover from her cancer.

However, she continued to be bothered by a persistent pain between her shoulder blades. Repeated examinations and X-rays by her cancer specialists had failed to identify any physical cause of her pain. She wanted to understand why it was there, and what she needed to do for it to go away.

Her Interactive Imagery Guide℠ then used an imagery technique that allowed her to dialogue with an imaginary wisdom figure called an Inner Advisor. Alice relaxed and imagined herself on a beautiful beach at the base of a high cliff. She asked for an image of her Inner Advisor to appear and imagined a man who looked like Merlin the Magician tending a fire. After greeting him, she asked him about her back pain.

After a few seconds of silence, she broke into tears. She said her advisor told her that she needed to ask for help, and that’s what brought on the tears. She had been strong and courageous throughout the entire cancer ordeal, calming and reassuring to her husband and family.

She always went for checkups and treatments alone, though it frightened her, because she felt her husband and kids would be frightened if she asked them for help or company. Though she was often aware of her own doubts, fears, and concerns about her illness and its treatments, she had never allowed herself to express them in an attempt to spare her loved ones from the anxiety it might produce.

Alice told her Inner Advisor her concerns about her family being scared if she asked for help. Her Advisor answered, “They are already scared. They will feel better if they are included in your trials and have an opportunity to be supportive and show their love for you.” She realized at once that this was true.

She then imagined asking her husband John for help. She laughed, as in her mind’s eye, she saw him taking out his appointment book and thumbing through it. She asked him (still in imagery), “Do you have time?” and he looked at her over his half-glasses and said, “We’ll make time.”

When she came out of the imagery experience, her pain was substantially relieved, with “just enough left to remind me that I actually need to talk with John about this in real life.”