The bravest thing I’ve ever done

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 at 6:53 AM and is filed under Becoming, Family Matters

Heart photo for BLOG photo“Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. “

~Mary Oliver

I begin this blog with a big thank you to the generous and kind people who came into my life recently and urged me, after careful listening, to share the truth of my latest journey through darkness to the light of expanded purpose.

In trust—and acceptance of the vulnerability that comes with living authentically—I let go of caring anymore whether anyone will like me, criticize me, label me, discontinue “following” me, refuse to date or hire me.  Today, I share the story of my evolving calling to teach others how to create a new mindset for health.

Here goes:

I know of no one who truly believes upon hearing a cancer diagnosis that they have in that moment been delivered “a gift.”  Most of us respond initially with shock and may even go into a state of post-traumatic stress disorder, as we spend weeks in fear waiting through anguishing, terrifying hours to hear the test results of pathology reports determining what our ‘life sentence’ will be.

As many cancer survivors shared with me, it is indeed a very lonely time even when surrounded by people who care for us—as we face our mortality head-on in a way that forever changes our innocence about life as we knew it.

Nothing is taken for granted again.  Routine tests become dreaded doctor visits as we enter fear-based medical establishments, moments with our loved ones change rapidly to heightened attention on what is truly important, and our daily responsibilities now include a much more time-intensive focus on “self-care.”

Some around us “disappear”—at a time when we may long for comfort or support the most—unconsciously fearing they could be touched by our diagnosis.  Yet, as one woman friend shared in telling her grandchildren of her cancer, ”I’m not contagious.” In fact, the cancer survivors I have met are not only not contagious, they are among the bravest and “alive” people I have ever known.  They live at a new edge of appreciation and vitality—embracing life more deeply for the gift that it is.  Much is to be learned by those given a second chance at life and by the reflections and self-evaluations that often take place as a result of their scary brush with death.

My own diagnosis of breast cancer almost two years ago put me in the pool with the other one of out seven women touched by this disease.  And sadly, one of three men is now being diagnosed with prostate cancer and one out of three adults will be touched by cancer of some sort (according to a Newsweek article).

Since then, my health journey evolved into a book in the works.

I got “the calling” to write the book, in the middle of the night, after vowing I’d never write about my private health scare.  God had a different plan for me—and thankfully my wise mentor coach Linda Salazar had suggested that even though I didn’t want to make my journey public at the time, to track it as a journal.

Three weeks after my lumpectomy, I jumped out of bed and wrote nearly non-stop for three days.  I simply placed my hands on the keyboard, and the words flowed so much so that my journal entries became my first and final drafts of each chapter.

My book is different than other related ones out there:  The key message I got called to deliver, based on my experience and research, is to guide others at the moments and days and weeks immediately after diagnosis on how to create a mindset for aligning with the body’s innate ability to heal, whether we use conventional or alternative medicine or a combination of both.

Spiritually, it seemed no coincidence that I was given the skill sets as a journalist, marketer, healer, life coach and cancer “thriver” to be chosen for this mission.  I also hope my story inspires others to become their own best healthcare advocates.

In addition, I share preventative measures, such as key foods to remove from your diet immediately, and some other key dietary elements to add.

The resource list included in the book is extensive, as is my insider information gleaned for participating three months at the Mind Body Program for Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital (where I learned from other participants that they had to keep their cancer journeys private or they wouldn’t be hired as employers fear the insurance consequences, even though they will never tell you they hold that prejudice).  Studies show that those who participate in such programs, which are different than traditional “support groups,” live 2 to 2.5 times longer.  I share what I learned about reducing stress and grounding myself in greater health.

The book includes interviews and research with doctors, patients and a wide variety of healers, along with details of my own journey to renewed health.  I share coaching tips for dealing with a diagnosis  (such as how to tell your children) to reinventing your life and moving forward.

Who would have thought that when I transitioned out of high tech PR 25 years ago to become “a life coach” that my new career “title’ would take on such significant meaning decades later after a scary death threat?  Claiming LIFE physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is how I live each day—and guide others to do the same.

We never know how the plan for our lives will actually evolve, but as my wise friend Rose Russo teaches, we must stay open to the mystery.

Cancer can be a wake-up call, often a nudge to re-direct our lives.  Almost all those I know who were touched by cancer want to use their journeys in some way to make a more meaningful contribution to the lives of others.

Some of us have discovered, if we did not get the lesson before, that there is so very little we have control over except our thoughts and actions that support self-care, such as exercise and healthy diets.

Learning how to direct those thoughts and commit to actions that support positive outcomes and new possibilities has always been part of my coaching–and in sync with my life purpose of teaching spiritual principles in a practical way.

Right now, I am looking for a publisher to bring the book to market quickly, as cancer rates are rising.

I also am seeking additional resources to help bring this product to fruition and market it properly.  If my calling speaks to you and you would like to support getting the book out to people who would benefit from it, please email me at gailjones@supportmatters.com.

I welcome your help.  And, this is where I choose to release my fear about how people may react because the task is too big to do alone.

At this juncture, my commitment to myself is to have a team behind me. No more “lone ranger” stories for me.  I thrive in connection and collaboration.

And, in the spirit of reciprocity, my plan includes giving a percent of the profits of the book to health-challenged people in need, with me directly hand-delivering the checks to recipients.  I am looking for another team member who can set up that charitable arm of my business.

Moving forward, I hope you will continue to engage with me, as I share new insights on living gained by surrendering to my calling full-steam ahead.

I am, in the words of coaching colleague, Ted Case, “in the game.”  I made my private journey visible so I can authentically share my “whole” self—and maybe help a few people who encounter a similar life challenge.

As divinely guided,

Gail

 

The heart graphic pictured above was modified by Rose Russo of Pathways…Life As Art to represent interconnecting circles of love as we move forward in healing.

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45 Responses to “The bravest thing I’ve ever done”

  • Gail, thanks for your courage in talking about your very personal, yet shared by many, experience with cancer. And thanks to your wise mentor coach who encouraged you to journal your journey. All the best in bringing your light-filled book to the world! Much love, Lyndra

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Lyndra: And I appreciate your love and support in honoring my courage and guidance to step it up to serve others. Yes, it’s great when us coaches get coached by such wise people–and receive so we can more fully give, too. You are one of those gifted souls as well. Love, Gail

  • Kim:

    You have something that is needed. Sounds like it is much more than a book. Think beyond publishers. Not sure if any of the charity networks could help, as well as angel investors.
    You are on the right path!

  • John Whitlow:

    Gail,

    I know you as a dedicated person and true to your word. I will share this with others. As a surviving spouse of a cancer victim, it is important to “make lemonade when life hands you lemons” whenever possible! I hate to use a cliche, but thought it appropriate.. 🙂 Laughter always helped me.

    Best of Luck,

    John

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    John: I appreciate your recognition of my character. And, thanks for sharing your own wisdom from watching your wife handle this challenging disease. Laughter certainly helps us embrace life and turn the trying moments into “lemonade.” Gail

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Kim: Thanks for sharing your ideas and validation of “my path.” Yes, it is much more than a book. It’s a platform for teaching the mindset of healthy, joyful living–and I hope to bring that message to young adults someday, too, post book launch to help “prevent” them from getting the diseases which are increasing among the baby boomer generation. All in good time–and for now, one step at a time. With much gratitude, Gail

  • Carrie:

    Dear Gail,
    Thank you for sharing your personal journey with your readers. Yes, it takes great courage, faith and sometimes luck to face and successfully battle cancer. Of course, support is vital!
    Your book sounds wonderfully supportive and very empowering! I wish it had been available when my late husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was such a frightening time, and I believe a book such as yours would have brought us great comfort and given us much needed direction. Your work is truly a gift to us all. I wish you great health, happiness and years on the best sellers’ list!
    Carrie H

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Carrie: I am so very sorry there was not the right support or teachings on creating a mindset to deal with cancer–and life beyond– when you had to face the disease with your husband. It is my hope that every doctor and healthcare professional will one day be given the time (without the mandates to meet quotas of seeing so many patients an hour when so little can really get “discussed” and thoroughly evaluated) to listen. Just being “heard” is healing in itself. Patients also benefit enormously when they are given hope and information that truly educates and inspires them to align with their mind, body and spirit in the healing process. May YOU be surrounded with comfort, support, encouragement and compassion as you continue to move on in your life without your husband. That, too, is a courageous journey. Gail

  • Gail, I am struck by the power of the quote you started off with, whether it is about cancer or anything else that is frightening or painful. It is so easy to get stuck in the fear and anguish, unable to see how you’ll get through it much less see the gift in it. This happened to me recently with a loss in my life, and I wallowed in the misery when I could have taken other steps to help myself. What you are doing by example and by writing this book gives others the insights and tools to stay open to the mystery and shift the experience much sooner. That is a great gift indeed.

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    I agree, Alice. That quote, given to me by a friend when I was in my dark moment, is so very powerful. And thanks for sharing how my example and book concept helps others shift to the gifts of more positive energy sooner. That’s an important point you made as my book is not “just” for cancer patients (and their families and loved ones), but for all who may want to learn to create mindsets for living more joyfully. Cancer gave me many lessons on what I needed to change within my life to value and cherish it even more. Gail

  • Last night I came across an old quote online…. “Life is like a box of chocolates” Surely you remember it.
    In our darkest moments when we fear all that we know, we find a way to live life as joyfully as we can because we have to. Positivity is a powerful mindset and I do believe it can help one live a healthier, meaningful life. My son was thirteen when his tumor was successfully removed from his sinus cavity there at Mass General and Mass Eye and Ear, and thankfully he won his battle, but he chose to win. He lives every day joyfully. It is contagious. Passing on to others what you have learned is powerful. I don’t know anyone who could write it better than you.

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Mary Ann: I had no idea of your story–and am very moved that you chose to share it with my readers. I am sure it will touch the heart of any parent. Your son’s recovery–and attitude–is truly inspiring. And I thank you for your belief in “my calling” and your kind words about my writing. I feel very blessed. Gail

  • Beth scanzani:

    I feel that this work, not only helps those facing a cancer diagnosis to begin the process of dealing and healing, but also has the potential to create waves of healing and empowerment that can help people minimize the development of disease. Such important knowledge and perspective…needs and wants to be shared. I wish you much success, Gail, with the process of completing this book and getting it out to the many readers who will surely benefit.

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Thanks, Beth, for your good wishes and also your perspective that my information could minimize the development of disease. I am including a huge section in the book on resources that help keep us healthy and contribute to stopping disease from accelerating. Additionally, the creation of a healthy mindset which I teach can help enliven us to live more fully in all areas of our lives. Gail

  • cATIE jONES:

    Mom,
    I’m so proud of you for writing this. Based on the comments above me, a lot of people would benefit from this book. Good things come to those who wait. Crossing my fingers that there are additional resources that can help bring this book to success!! Great blog post 🙂

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Catie: Thanks so much. Your support of me and “my calling” means the world to me. Love, Mom

  • Gail,

    I don’t have the right words yet, but I do know that through your beautiful, courageous vulnerability, you are sharing a story that we all need to remember. Some of us have lived through a similar story. Others have seen friends go through the process of frightening news to a new day. All of us will benefit from your journey as we walk our own paths.

    XOXO

    Erica

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Erica: I am touched you found “beautiful, courageous vulnerability” in my blog–and think it many benefit many others as they walk their paths. Authenticity really helps connect us deeper and in a more meaningful way…and is so freeing when we speak our truth. With warm appreciation, Gail

  • nancy haverington:

    Gail,
    I’m delighted to see your new photo up above. I loved the former one, too, of you walking the beach. The difference is, that photo could have been of any beautiful woman because you were in the distance. Not any more. This photo is unmistakably you, bold and unapologetic in your bright red sweater. It reflects your words, speaking the truth, naming the dread, and facing it for yourself and with others. May your book reach everyone who needs it in that moment that connects us all.

    With love and respect,
    Nancy

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Nancy: It is so heart-warming to read such soulful thoughts from someone who has known me “before” and just recently again “after” my life-altering moment that led me to my new “calling.” I have been changed at the core level, although to the outer world, the shifts seem so subtle. You are incredibly perceptive. Thanks for your support on my new book. It’s so nice to feel I have “a tribe” behind me–and that someone as wise and kind as you is part of it.

    Love, Gail

  • Flo Gaia:

    When I think of the darkness of difficult transitions like a divorce or health scares like a cancer diagnosis, some may withdraw or constrict or, as Gail says so wisely, “journey through to the light of expanded purpose”. It takes tremendous courage, strength of character and plain old stamina to go the distance of that journey through sadness, fear, discouragement, emotional pain, and loneliness to persevere. It takes being a spiritual warrior. Gail, you are the epitome of being a spiritual warrior. You have fought tooth and nail to win your health back–learning, growing and coming more into your power as a whole woman. That is something no one can take from you. You have coached your self into a new life over hurdles and through obstacles of all kinds. There is no one better to help guide others through such a difficult journey to make the way easier. Your open writing style is so honest, reflective and wise that others can relate to it and feel your support. You are truly coaching others to life, to live fully, reclaiming their health and advocating for themselves. You are a beacon of light for those walking through a dark time in their life.

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Flo: I am quite taken by your description of me as “a spiritual warrior.” These transitions in life, when approached with great consciousness and attention/intention, really connect us to the strength of our being, our Source energy, our authentic hopes and dreams. I wouldn’t wish a cancer diagnosis on anybody, but I do know from my experience, the health scare became a way for me to commit more fully to LIFE right now, in the moment…no more holding back (or holding in when I need to voice something that needs to be said). I am honored that you respect my journey to self-care over my own hurdles of all kinds–and value my experience as a great teaching foundation to be “a beacon of light” for others. With deep appreciation, Gail

  • Donna bates:

    Gail,
    You have made such a difference in so many people’s lives. Continue your journey to truly inspire and help so many more. You are courageous, knowledgeable, gifted and loving. I will be supportive to your journey in any way that I can. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Donna

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Donna: I thank you for your kind and continued support–and belief in my work. I appreciate your taking the time to post such a thoughtful comment. Gail

  • cary:

    Gail’s message is both heartwarming and breathtaking. It holds the potential to help thousands … even millions.

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Wow, Cary…coming from a media and marketing expert, your comments help validate the broad significance of my message…thanks so much. I am deeply moved. Gail

  • Kelly:

    Gail, I received a link for your blog from a dear friend who lost her husband to cancer, and reading through others posts, many have lost loved ones to these diseases. Having resources such as yours to help navigate and guide us through these waters would be so very helpful. You’re right, so many healthcare providers just do not have the time to adequately walk the patients and families through these terrifying diagnoses. Heck, just a call back for a mammogram is enough to start your heart racing. This resource would be so welcome and so helpful to so many, I encourage you to follow this calling. God gives us the gifts we need when we don’t think we possess them. I wish you the best with this endeavor, and I’m so thankful that you are well. Kelly Conboy

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Kelly: Thank you for your good wishes on this calling and my health. And you so accurately described the fears around receiving any type of information from health care professionals: “Heck, just a call back for a mammogram is enough to start your heart racing.” Learning to pause and calm our minds (and release our emotions)–as I have been guided to teach–helps not only with a health scare, but with any challenging event. I believe the resources in my book will help many find places of love and support, where they can align with like-minded others who empower them to stay open to new possibilities for health and life. I appreciate your taking the time to write. Gail

  • Holly:

    Gail, I have also received your blog through a friend. A wonderful friend who walked with me through my cancer journey. I truly believe the more positive heartfelt messages put out to not only cancer patients but also our society as a whole will help people living the cancer journey and also for prevention! Your book sounds wonderful! I will be sending you positive happy thoughts throughout your journey. I believe in you and your message! With much love, Holly

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Holly: I agree with you that my book extends to society as a whole-and that there are many ways to prevent cancer, which I also highlight in the book from my interviews with many experts and healers. As a woman who has been through cancer, you are most kind to share that you think my book would be of assistance to others facing the challenge (which is also an opportunity to re-direct our lives). Thanks so much for your belief in me and my work…and your positive energy sent my way. I FEEL IT:) With deep gratitude, Gail

  • Bev:

    So sorry I haven’t written before now! I have been dealing with a lot of loss in my own life but I always make time to read your blog. Whatever the subject, your writing encourages me to get through the day in much the same ways you helped me with your guidance as a personal coach long ago.

    This post especially touched me. I have many relatives and friends who have gotten the scary diagnosis of cancer whether it be breast, lung or brain. Some succumbed to the disease but many others survived. Having recently been in a hospital for quite some time, I happened to have a close relative on the “cancer floor.” I saw and heard many people struggling to survive and getting treatment. Some patients luckily were with their families during this challenging time but many were alone.

    Either way, your book would have been a blessing. As you say in your blog, “that there is so very little we have control over except our thoughts and actions that support self-care.” You are right but we all have to be reminded of this now and then. I wish you much success with your book for it is truly needed. Thanks Gail.

  • Deb Busser:

    Gail – I love how brave and ‘in the game’ you are on this gift you have to share. As always, I am struck by your clear voice, vulnerability, and strength. I wish you much success with the book – it clearly will be a lifesaver for many.
    With love and gratitude –
    Deb

  • Cynde denson:

    Gail, Your message comes from a deep place of one who knows the pain of illness, the fear of the ensuing darkness and the redemption of walking through and rising above that darkness. It is a compassionate message that the world needs. That message combined with your extraordinary writing skills will bring comfort to those walking a similar path. God Bless you for putting your message out there. In gratitude, Cynde

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Bev: I am sorry for all your losses, and that you had to witness so many friends and relatives touched by cancer. Sadly, so few are given the skills upfront or at time of diagnosis to learn how best to align their thoughts with their body’s innate ability to heal. In our fast-paced medical world where doctors must meet quotas to see a certain number of patients an hour, we have lost much. Basic information such as key foods that heal, or how to exercise properly for our conditions is not often shared. Patients are left on their own to figure it out–which can feel terribly isolating. We thrive best when we feel emotionally supported and “heard.” I hope my book is that type of companion for many. Thanks again, Bev, for taking the time to reach out and share that even during your challenging times, you’ve found my written words supportive and helpful. I wish you some ease, gentleness and comfort in the days ahead as you re-center after all your losses. Warmly, Gail

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Deb: Life certainly does shift when we get “in the game” and put our vulnerability on the line. I am honored to read your kind words about my “voice” and am deeply grateful for your support and encouragement as I continue to spread my wings over new terrain. Love, Gail

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Cynde: You know that old adage about “God works in funny ways.” Well, this blog has brought to my life so many caring people who I don’t get to see or speak with as often as I like. You are one of those wise souls. I knew when I got this “calling” that God had indeed given me the skills to deliver it. Writing has been in my bones for a very long time. This time, however, I am also wearing my journalist hat, along with the heart-centered writing and coaching I incorporate in my work. I did research that succinctly provides needed information at the time of diagnosis which is so rarely shared with patients in a clear, concise and helpful manner. Most of all, I hope my book gives hope to millions –and at the very least, a sense of companionship. A cancer diagnosis can be a lonely journey…getting out of isolation is key. Thanks for acknowledging my journey and the compassionate ways I hope to inspire others. Love, Gail

  • A beautiful blog and story Gail and I’m wishing you the best with your book, life and health. Thank you for helping with mine. You are a talented writer and I believe in your dreams. Congratulations on the decision to write this and sorry that I’ve been away and so backed up that I just saw it. Will share… take care and keep in touch. Love, Barb

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Barb: Thanks for your belief in me and “my calling” to help others align with their body’s innate ability to heal. I also appreciate your kind words about me as a writer and my skills as a publicist helping you promote your own book. To much success for both of us as we honor the ways we have been guided to serve. Much love, Gail

  • Gail, beautiful….. I have so much to say…. I am not sure where to start.

    It is truly amazing, the power of the mind, in turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Cancer has a way of bringing your life into the present moment and therefore becoming a “gift”

    But yes, I could not agree more strongly, it is truly difficult for a person to see that it is a gift in the early days, but as time passes things change

    I have a mission similar to yours in that I lost my mother to Ovarian Cancer and I have started a website to help people manage their minds in the days, weeks and months after Cancer Diagnosis. I need to get in touch with you directly so I will send you and email from the details you have provided above.

    With Respect to financial assistance for your book, I think you need to look at crowd funding. I dont know how much you need to raise but this is an awesome resource that is getting a lot of positive results these days. We can discuss more in my email to you
    Love and Light Paul

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Paul: Thank you so much for taking the time to write, and sharing your similar mission. I am so sorry you lost your mother to ovarian cancer, and commend you for using your own pain to serve so many others. I have done much research in crowd source funding. One of the key sources does not fund books and some others require so much time (and asking all my friends and relatives for money–all of whom are people who already know of my mission and need) that it feels a huge distraction from the writing of my book. With cancer rates rising, I feel a greater urgency to get my book to market quickly. There are so many helpful resources in my book and research on leading-edge approaches that help others heal. I will share more in an email to you. I am so grateful to continue this connection and the sharing of hope and possibilities we will be offering many. Blessings, Gail

  • Gail, this is a beautiful story and I agree that the information is time sensitive. A traditional publisher will take 9-12 months before your book will launch. Many will not accept your submission without an agent.

    You might consider self or Indie publishing; on that is print on demand. Amazon.com has a property called Create Space. If you have help to format and design the cover there is no fee. You just pay for the books as they are printed.

    In the meantime send out information letters to woman’s groups, hospitals, hospice and set up speaking schedule. Take and sell your books to sell at these lectures. Do talk radio interviews as well. If you sell enough books in the first couple of months publishers will contact you…

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Malana:

    Thanks for your suggestions. I did self-publish my first book 10 years ago. “This” book is different in that I wrote it as a journalist, life coach, healer and cancer thriver. It combines “my story” with years of research–and I very much want to feel I have a publishing house behind me. Cancer is big business; teaching others how to heal with self-love and numerous other alternative approaches in combination with conventional medicine is a big story, not shared by many doctors. With cancer rates rising, the urgency to get a book like this out is paramount. I think with the right publisher behind me, the process could be accelerated. Many need to know of resources I cite within. However, I am keeping all publishing options open and I am so grateful you took the time to give your valuable feedback. Warm regards, Gail

  • […] blog, The Bravest Thing I’ve Ever Done, describes my calling to write my book, which came in the middle of the night. Although I had been a […]

  • Yes, continue following your calling Gail. Praying for a publisher for you, keep writing! Blessings, Sherry

  • Gail Kauranen Jones:

    Thanks, Sherry. And I just went to your site and saw your amazing story of healing from Stage 3 breast cancer using an alternative route. Bravo for your courage…and for sharing your story. Yes, my book needs to get published. It offers so much hope:) Grateful for your support and encouraging words. With love and blessings, Gail

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