Dr. Keri Chiappino reveals the secrets to her personal journey to recovery:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Dickens’ words rang so true for me personally three years ago. I had just received the most exciting news that the birth mother of my soon-to-arrive daughter was in labor and was heading to the airport when my doctor called with the crushing diagnosis: I had invasive breast cancer. What should have been the most wonderful time of my life was spent undergoing multiple surgeries and eight rounds of chemo.
For many, the emotional and physical after effects of chemotherapy can continue post treatment for months or even years and are not always fully addressed by the medical community. Lack of focus, short-term memory loss and extreme fatigue are some of the debilitating Post-chemotherapy Cognitive Impairment (PCCI), aka “chemo brain,” symptoms that often wreak havoc on work life and relationships. During my own chemotherapy regimen, undergoing neurofeedback brain-wave training helped spare me from chemo brain, enabling me to focus on my new beautiful baby daughter, my practice and of course my patients and ultimately to launch a new chapter in my life to provide emotional support for breast cancer survivors, affectionately called “Healing Boobies,” dedicated to helping thrivers “get their happy back.”
A healthy brain is able to shift brain-wave states throughout the day to focus on specific tasks, but a brain that has suffered the neurotoxic effects of chemotherapy may become out of sync and remain in a wandering state, unable to focus or perform tasks with mental clarity. Chemo brain affects an untold number of cancer survivors, sapping them of energy, drive and pleasure.
As a BCIA certified neurofeedback practitioner, I was fortunate to have access to neurofeedback brain-wave therapy. QEEG brain map images taken at different intervals throughout my eight rounds of chemotherapy provided completely objective data on how the chemotherapy affected my brain. The QEEG results were then used to devise a customized neurofeedback therapy training program to help my brain stabilize itself and operate efficiently. Undergoing BrainCore neurofeedback training during and post treatment helped my brain to normalize brain-wave patterns, thus averting any symptoms of chemo brain.
Getting Your Happy Back
Fortunately for me, my course of therapy was successful and I was deemed cancer-free. While being told I was in remission of course was wonderful, I couldn’t seem to celebrate the news. Although my physical body was healed, emotional scars still needed mending. I found through support groups that other survivors also experienced the same void, particularly those who were taking anti-anxiety medications and other prescriptions to help combat chemo brain. For me, the neurofeedback training had helped ward off these symptoms – why wasn’t I back to my old self? And then one day it hit me! Although our hair had returned and the nausea had subsided, we were emotionally numb. The cancer had robbed us of our inner happiness.
This discovery was the turning point in my recovery. I began to realize just how much feelings can and do affect the body and by getting my emotions in check, I could play a part in my own healing journey. It was deep work to let go of negative emotions and grab hold of the positives, but through perseverance I was able to heal my whole body and finally feel happy!
Out of this revelation “HealingBoobies.com” was born, a video/social media and personal coaching support program designed for women “thrivers” to walk them through the journey to healing these emotional scars. Healing Boobies’ six-week course is comprised of weekly lessons and assignments designed to help women feel better physically and emotionally on a whole spiritual level. For those needing personal step-by-step guidance, Skype-based individual coaching is available throughout the duration of the course.
If you or a loved one are struggling to find your old self after the Big “C” I encourage you to visit my HealingBoobies.com website, and join my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest groups for daily inspiration that will help you “get your happy back!” Learn more at www.HealingBoobies.com.