“Over and over I have seen one of two things happen when the total environment of the person with cancer is mobilized for life and his or her inner ecology is thereby changed in a positive way. For some, the patient’s life is prolonged, not in an arbitrary way, but in order that there may be more experiences of the self, self-recognition and the recognition – and often fulfillment – of dreams. And then there were the genuine miracles – not magic, but dedicated devotion and hard work which made the cancer a turning point in the person’s life rather than a sign of its ending.”

–Lawrence LeShan

Cancer as a Turning Point

  • Have you just been diagnosed with cancer, and are in a state of shock, or fear, or numbness?
  • Have you just been cleared following cancer treatment, completed your chemotherapy, and are ready to go back to work—but are an emotional wreck with a brain functioning like it’s at ”half-mast”?
  • Are you out of surgery, waiting for results from the lab, and realizing how difficult it is to move through a myriad of information, advice, and feeling a low grade worry that persists in spite of what you say or do?
  • Do you feel very alone in this cancer journey you’ve been thrown into, with friends and family around but not “getting” what a struggle this is?
  • Have you figured out your survival statistics and they are shockingly bad and you are living with the terror of dying, barking at your heels, waking at night in a panic?
  • Have you been told you have X months to live and are trying to figure out how you will manage this information, tell your family and help them and you deal with this news?  Do you want help finding ways to manage the next few months as your journey unfolds?
  • Are you anxious and worried all the time, as you know your chances are poor for surviving this disease which is an epidemic?
  • Are you lost in a confusion of different information from different doctors, as well as discovering from talking to other cancer patients that your doctor has a terrible reputation for being available and thorough and doing enough careful work when he is operating, or in the follow-up with tests and lab work?
  • Have you just found out that someone neglected to give you the results from the imaging work—or they lost the results…..  or the radiologist missed some of the tumour when they read the results from your tests? Do you sense the doctors are closed to discussing options and alternative forms of treatment?
  • Are you frightened and do you feel betrayed by your body, wondering what you did wrong that you got cancer?
  • Is life with your partner, since the surgery, been awkward, as he/she doesn’t understand what you are going through, nor why you aren’t available for sexual intimacy?


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty

And frightened.  Don’t open the door to the study

And begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel

And kiss the ground.



What is cancer coaching:

My aim is more than support:  it is to help you Heal, Learn, Change….so life is enhanced and enriched…… and, hopefully lengthened.

When one enters the arena of cancer diagnosis, there can be a maze of life issues such as:

  • Physical limitations, such as lymphedema, or missing breasts or muscles or nerves, or restricted movement or function as a result of surgeries to remove cancer tumours.
  • Pain on an ongoing basis
  • Shame and guilt regarding how one looks, how one feels, that one contracted cancer (ie. What’s wrong with you?)
  • One’s possible demise and death
  • A range of medical treatment options– trying to gather the information to make those choices, as doctors are not always (although they sometimes are) able to help with the information related to the choices.
  • Doctors and medical staff who seem indifferent and unaware of your unique challenges.
  • A long list of alternative treatments to support healing and recovery from cancer—where to begin?
  • Parenting, family issues and tensions as the cancer struggle enters the scene, and sometimes remains for a long time in the limelight.
  • Returning to work, how to maintain good self-care in the face of workloads and schedules?


Deborah’s Cancer Story:

I was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, with a form of malignant melanoma that is very aggressive; it had developed on the top of my head.  Within 1 year I had 4 major surgeries and the cancer had metastases to my lymph nodes in the neck.  I lost 120 lymph nodes and the sterno clavicle mastoid on both sides of my neck.  I also lost my accessory nerve on the left side of my neck, which controls shoulder movement and strength for lifting and carrying.  Because one of the surgeries nicked a nerve I developed Horner’s Syndrome, which means the eye lid doesn’t open and close properly.  I was given less than 5% chance of surviving 5 years or more.  I was frightened and confused and yet I had good docs, and I found some really important alternative treatments to support my healing.  One of those was Kundalini Yoga—including the yoga breathing and yoga meditation. I also used Naturopathy and Eastern Chinese Medicine.   I am 9 years clear, and continue to be grateful, for life as it is.


 “Therapy sessions are not planned. 

They occur.  They are unpredictable, vital and alive.” 

–Lawrence LeShan


A Typical Session:

  1. We start with your questions:  What brings you here?  Which concerns are you carrying with you today?  What concerns do you carry?  Your story, your way, is told—and is heard.  What do you want help with?
  2. We determine which phase of the Cancer Journey you are in, and then we move to—What might be your goal(s).
  3. Setting some goals, with consideration for “Where one is in the cancer process:  What do you really want to change in your life vis a vis, cancer?  We do this together as we remember your context of:

deborah stewart finestone

4) Frequently with cancer, some form of healing is calling at several levels—depending on whom one is.  Sometimes old wounds need to be attended, or blocked emotions from past life challenges are weighing one down.  Or one needs to learn some different “self-care strategies” to support physical and emotional health. Sometimes it is old belief structures that no longer serve one, and need to be named and challenged and released.  For example, the belief:  “If I am quiet and listen to others with understanding, I will get what I need.”  This can be a deadly belief that in the end serves to stop one from self-care, and finding joy and passion in life.   We figure out limiting beliefs that restrict and limit one, …..

5) Sometimes one is looking for ways to calm the mind (worry and fear), and deal with sleeplessness and mild-medium depression.  I teach meditation techniques and breathing techniques that are drawn from my extensive, Yoga teacher “bag of tools”.  Sometimes one checks out the Yoga for the Immune System Classes that is available at two different locations.

6) One gets help with dealing with newer emotions—such as fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger……… ways to release feelings that can become toxic, ways to ride the waves of the emotional roller coaster that can dominate the Cancer Journey.

7) One learns new self-care skills to support the emerging “new me” that is coming out of the ashes of the Cancer struggle….. the phoenix is rising.

8) Steps and methods for taking one’s learning back into one’s family, one’s circle of friends and colleagues, one’s community is given priority.

9) One embarks on a journey of small changes in Self-Care.  It might be 3 minutes of meditating each morning and 10 minutes of yoga.  It might be journaling.  It might be more assertion around one’s needs.  It might be a weekly meet up with friends to share and care.  It might be …..piano lessons, walking, etc.


Other resources:

Network for cancer patients/survivors

The Healing Journey Program for cancer patients/survivors and their families