Weaknesses Are Only As Strong As We Allow Them To Be

I saw this quote on Instagram, on the Optimal Living Daily account (@oldpodcast) — “The more willing you are to face your weaknesses, the less likely they are to remain weaknesses.” I wanted to know more about Tynan, the person who was quoted. I took his quote, put it onto a picture my husband took while on vacation in Hawaii, and wanted to share it. I hope this inspires you to face your weaknesses, too.

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What weaknesses are you willing to face?

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

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Caring for Parents with Memory Issues (Video; 28 minutes)

 

 

Where does one begin when memory problems become an issue with an aging parent?

Issues such as getting a diagnosis, terminology (What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?), resources (Book: Caring for a Husband with Dementia; App: Dementia Caregiver Solutions for iOS; Alzheimer Society), sundowning, and managing difficult behaviours are all discussed in this half-hour video.

Check out my video interview with Nancy Baker from Healing Healthy with Nancy called “Caring for Parents with Memory Issues.”

 

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

Keywords: Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Book, App, Essential Oils

Memory Rescue by Dr. Daniel Amen (2017) – Book Review

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I am a geriatric mental health clinician, and frequently I am asked: “How can I improve my memory skills?” The usual recommendations from doctors are, “Exercise and learn new things.” I have been on a quest to find some other tips and tools that people can use to help improve or maintain their brain and memory functions as they age. This need has led me to try to find the perfect book to recommend to those who are looking for more information. “Memory Rescue” has some useful information but it’s not the book I was looking for.

I purchased a copy (Amazon) of psychiatrist Dr. Amen’s book “Memory Rescue: Supercharge your brain, reverse memory loss, and remember what matters most” which has a second subtitle, “The official program of the Amen Clinics.” The Amen Clinics are found all over the USA, and the services and programs offered there are to help people with various mental health and brain health concerns (such as memory loss, ADD, and traumatic brain injury).

This book starts out with 20 testimonials and reviews which is very impressive until I realized they were all from men. The male-dominated view about memory problems and the Amen Clinic program was very strong. The only female presence I felt was from Dr. Amen’s wife, Tana, which was very sparse. There were also a handful of case studies that were about females. As a woman reader and professional, I wish there had been a more balanced perspective.

The overall takeaway of this book, for me, was that this was a big advertisement for his Memory Rescue Program that he offers through his Amen Clinics and the MyBrainFitLife.com website. There were case examples of how his clinics help people, and there were lots of “SPECT” (single photon emission computed tomography) scan photos to “prove” it. Even after looking at numerous SPECT images, I still wasn’t 100% sure what I was looking for. I felt these images were a bit overkill.

Here in Canada, we don’t have access to Amen Clinics, and SPECT scans are reserved for those exceptional cases (which I am still not sure what those cases are.) We tend to favour CT, MRI and PET scans.

Ultimately I was looking for concrete tips on “how to improve memory skills” and “how to improve memory problems.” Amen’s program is intended to enhance your mood and memory skills using the BRIGHT MINDS risk factor approach, with each letter standing for a component of the “ultimate memory formula.” Blood Flow, Retirement and Aging, Inflammation, Genetics, Head Trauma, Toxins, Mental Health, Immunity/Infection Issues, Neurohormone Deficiencies, Diabesity, and Sleep Issues. There was quite a lot of repetition throughout the book, with the main recommendations being: Exercise, Nutrition, Nutraceuticals (and supplements).

On pages 28-30, you can take the “Amen Clinics’ Early Warning Signs Questionnaire.” Your score will provide you with a risk of “significant memory issues,” from low to high. Amen states, if you are at moderate to high risk, it is important to get a thorough medical evaluation.

This book brought up some new terms and concerns. Those including my need for nutraceuticals (which Amen sells on his BrainMD website), getting tested for the APOE gene (related to Alzheimer’s disease), an integrative medicine doctor (but doesn’t say where I can find one). He was heavy on the recommendation of Gingko Biloba (a natural supplement that has limited research evidence to help prevent memory problems, see GEM study). He was anti-marijuana use and wasn’t that clear on what the recommendation was for alcohol use (was it 2-4 servings a week or only 2?).  He suggests coconut oil is good for our brains, but I have read that it is not good for our bodies. There is a lot of reference to the Memory Rescue Diet, but it is not discussed until chapter 16. There are a lot of references to the Bible, which surprised me. He also suggested that “praying to release your worries and to rejoice over the good things around you can help reduce your risk of mental health problems” (p. 337).

Ultimately, as I mentioned earlier, I was looking for specific tips and techniques to help people improve their memory skills. The most helpful part of the book in this regard is found in Chapter 17 “Sharpen Your Memory––Brain Workouts for a Richer Life.” He provides a lot of suggestions of what activities can help strengthen the different areas of the brain such as playing Scrabble, completing crossword puzzles, and learning to play a new musical instrument. He suggests engaging in “map reading” without a GPS device. He’s a big fan of table tennis and other coordination activities, such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi. He says we should travel to new and interesting places and develop relationships with smart people. Music, especially classical, can enhance memory and cognitive function. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the instruction to “pay attention” to what we are doing, which I believe is an essential tip for being able to remember things in the first place. He doesn’t speak to word-finding difficulties, either, which is one thing a lot of older folks are initially concerned about.

The book is well-referenced, and he claims to walk the talk. The index is sub-par, and it could have been enhanced to make finding things a lot easier to find. Some of the reviews online of Amen Clinics state it is a very costly program. There is no mention of costs, but there is mention that the process of improving cognition or mental health often takes months. It’s assumed the program costs thousands of dollars. The MyBrainFitLife.com online program also has a cost, a yearly fee of USD 99. There are some free Brain Assessments (which I completed) which can help one decide on the level of risk one is at. If someone already has memory impairment, a caregiver or loved one will need to read this book as it tends to have some jargon and technical language, and there is lots to read and learn about.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Amen Clinic Memory Rescue Program. For specific information on brain health and tips for improving memory skills, Chapter 17 is where you want to start. If you believe in God or a higher power, this will also confirm your faith in how prayer and scripture can support your mental health. The book is somewhat repetitive, however, it drives home the main message––that having a healthy body means better chances for a healthy brain.

I’ll leave you with this: Amen provides hope––“Yet new research suggests that a ‘memory rescue’ program, like the one presented in this book, can dramatically improve memory and can prevent and sometimes even reverse some forms of dementia. Given how most doctors approach this issue, however, you cannot count on traditional medicine to rescue your memory.” (p. 4).

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW (Specialist in Aging)

 

 

Appropriate and/or Correct Words and Phrases (No offense!)

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Photo credit: Words by Kristina Krause of Redzenradish Photography

√ Use … × Instead of…

Mental Health:

√ Died by suicide

× Committed/Completed/Successful suicide

√ Suicidal ideation with a plan; suicide without a plan

× Active suicidal ideation; Passive suicidal ideation  

√ Alcohol use disorder/Benzodiazepine use disorder

× Alcohol dependence or use continuous

√ Person with a mental health disability; person who has/person diagnosed with depression/schizophrenia, etc.; Terminology varies throughout countries – “insane” and “insanity” are generally legal terms and reported as such in news programming

× Negative references to mental health and well-being such as: lunatic, mental patient, mental disease, neurotic, psychotic, crazy

Physical Abilities:

√ Hard of hearing; deaf; deafened or late-deafened; Deaf (uses sign language)

× Hearing-impaired; blanket term “deaf” used at the wrong time 

√ Person who uses a wheelchair

√ Wheelchair user

× Wheelchair-bound  

√ Non-disabled

× Normal

√ Person living with vision loss

√ Person who is blind

√ Person who has a vision impairment

× Blind; visually impaired  

√ Person with a disability

√ Persons with disabilities

√ People with disabilities

√ Individuals with disabilities

× Disabled, invalid, handicapped, physically challenged (challenges and handicaps are environmental conditions) 

√  Person born with a disability

× Birth defect, deformity/deformed, congenital defect

√ Person with a disability or a person with a/who has a motion disability;

√ Person with (e.g., a spinal cord injury)

× Crippled or lame

Medical Conditions:

√ Has (e.g., asthma, cancer)

× Suffers from (e.g., asthma, cancer)   

√ Person/people/individual with (a) dementia

√ Person/people/individual living with dementia

√ Person/people living well with dementia

√ A person with Alzheimer’s disease

× Dementia sufferer; demented; senile or senile dementia; burden; victim; plague; epidemic; living death (e.g., dementia is a living death)

♥ Re: “dementia patient” – okay to use when talking about people in a hospital or actually using a care service).

√  Person who has (a particular disease or condition). Ex: A person who has had a stroke.

× Suffers from; was stricken with; is confined to; or is afflicted by/with. These terms patronize, pity, victimize or insult.

Other Terms:

√ Older people; older person; older adult

× Elderly; old people; old person

 ♥ Seniors or senior citizens is an acceptable term for most.

√ Accessible parking

× Handicapped parking

√ Accessible bathrooms

× Handicapped bathrooms

√ Person with an intellectual disability or persons with learning disabilities

× Mentally retarded; retarded; mentally defective; mentally challenged

 √ Indigenous Peoples, First Nations Peoples, Inuit Peoples, Metis Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples. Note: Always go with what they are calling themselves. 

Eskimo, Indian, Native are less-used terms and can be taken as derogatory.

√ Black (as an adjective); African-American/African-Americans (as nouns) (both are acceptable, but not necessarily interchangeable.) In Canada, Black or Black Canadian.

× N-word 

SIMPLE RULE: It’s people first. The person comes first.

The disability or disease comes second.

REGARDING IMAGES: Use images that reflect the whole person, rather than a fading face or wrinkled hands. This is especially important when the article is about living a positive life or overcoming challenges.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide,” “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival,” “How to Edit an Anthology: Write or Compile a Collection that Sells,” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

Search terms: politically correct, political correctness, terminology, writing, speaking, sensitive, appropriate, modern, neutral, acceptable

 

How a Dog or Puppy Can Bring Joy and Companionship into Your Life

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When I was going through my cancer ordeal, my dog, Rocky (a senior), was my constant companion. He lay beside me on my bed, he followed me downstairs when I went to get something to eat, and on the days I was bedbound, he seemed to be aware of my plight. When my family went out to work or school, or attended family functions that I wasn’t well enough to go to, Rocky was there with me. He seemed to get me more than anyone else. We bonded in a special way. I was never alone.

After my treatments were completed (which were absolutely torturous!), my daughter Simone started talking about wanting a new puppy. She was saying how she was missing having a little girl-dog around, so I encouraged her to get one for herself. I told her we would help her look after it. It didn’t take her long to decide and she went for it!

Well, what a joy this little one has brought to our lives. The fun and excitement started when my daughter called us to say one of the breeders she called said she had puppies that were just a few days old, and she could come and take a look! Soon after, Simone and I made plans to go out to the country to see the puppies. They were purebred Havanese (like a small poodle).

Simone picked out a blond female and named her Berkeley. We visited her every week as she grew old enough to be weaned from her mother. I (we) had something fun, sweet and exciting to look forward to. This helped get my mind off my cancer ordeal. Rocky was still my trusty companion, and this little addition was going to bring a new dynamic to our household. The anticipation of the day we could bring her home was killing us! We were in love.

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When we went to get Berkeley to bring her back to her forever home, it was as if we had brought home a new baby! We had visitors, puppy gifts, even a “Puppy Shower” my daughter planned. Simone wanted to bond with the puppy so she made sure she looked after all the pup’s needs – such as comfort, food, water and a warm comfy place to sleep. She had to get up in the night to let her out to do her business. The household and family dynamics were changed. Even Rocky had to adapt to having a little one around. Heck, I am even called Gramma now!

I was house-bound for many months during my healing and recovery, so I was the main one helping with the house-training. Often I played with Berkeley as she had lots of energy and a playful spirit (when she was awake). When she started teething, we had to make sure she had lots of appropriate chew toys and made sure the house was “puppy-proofed.”

Berkeley has added so much joy to our lives. I can’t imagine what my recovery journey would have been like without Rocky and our new little one. Raising a puppy is hard work, but the rewards are tremendous.

Please share your dog (or pet) story.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

The Path to Mending a Broken Heart

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I have assessed and treated a lot of broken hearts in my career. There are many causes of a broken heart, and the main ones being the loss of a loved one, or the loss of your own own health (and the anticipated loss of the future).

When a person breaks a limb, such as an arm or leg they immediately receive medical attention. The motivation is to get the broken pieces to heal back together so it can be functional again. The broken limb is promptly given a very snug-fitting, long-lasting hug in the form of a cast. Sometimes a brace. There are instructions to wear this cast for about six weeks. For some, that’s the longest six weeks of their lives. Everything changes. The way they do things changes. How they look changes. They are looked at as being somewhat disabled…broken.

When someone’s heart is broken, if they are lucky, they are given a nice warm hug. The hug doesn’t last for weeks, however, but many doses are recommended over the coming weeks and months. There is no specific doctor’s orders given on how many hugs, how long, what to expect, etc. There will be lots of tears, sadness and possibly self-isolation. I believe this is the equivalent to the cast for the broken limb. It’s a way of protecting and immobilizing the broken parts so it can heal.

Much like a broken arm or leg, the heart takes time to heal.

Although the outward signs of brokenness are not there (you can’t see the hole left in the heart, or the crack in it), there is a real, bonafide injury. I consider the spirit, soul and “heart” of a person as one and the same. When we’ve had an emotional trauma or injury to our spirit, it takes a very special form of healing. It’s something that can’t be rushed, and there is no specific time frame on when it will be healed.

A broken heart will never be the same. Neither will a broken arm or leg. For some, the heart will have permanent scarring, emptiness, or pain. For others, the pain will eventually subside, and the emptiness will eventually be filled. But we know this is not something that can be rushed. And it’s different for everybody.

If you or someone you know is healing from a broken heart, make sure you take your time.

  • Don’t force it or use pressure.
  • A broken arm can’t heal any faster if you try to use it.
  • The broken leg may become more damaged if you try to walk on it before it’s strong enough.
  • The broken heart will only get worse if you ignore it and try to push it.

When the time is right, you will start to try things that won’t emotionally or spiritually hurt you. For example, you may be encouraged to “get out” more, but you may feel it’s too soon to be around others. Answering questions such as “How are you?” may be too much for you to handle. When you feel you are strong enough, and you are ready to start getting back into “real life,’ you may want to try rehabilitating your heart first. Baby-steps towards repairing the soul can help. Do things that make your heart feel good. The soul knows what it needs. Listen to that. The practice of self-compassion is so important on this path to healing a broken heart.

Bottom line is, don’t rush and don’t push. Any broken bone or heart takes time to heal. Give yourself that time and honour your body’s natural process of healing.

 

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “Living Well With and After Cancer” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

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A Story of Cancer Survival That Will Touch Your Heart and Soul (and Funny Bone!) – Book review

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Brown Ribbon by Robbi Woolard

Psychologist Dr. Robbi Woolard is a survivor of a rare form of cancer. She was encouraged by two of her friends to put her experiences and thoughts into a book (eBook for Kindle). “Brown Ribbon” is part memoir, part self-help book and is written with a humorous slant (a story about a doctor and a commode made me laugh out loud!). She has an “incredibly strong faith” and her beliefs in God and heaven are referred to throughout the book. She is clearly not afraid of death and is a very brave and courageous woman. She believes accidents, illnesses such as cancer and other traumas are random events and no one is immune (no matter how well one lives their life).

Woolard writes in an entertaining, yet educational and inspiring tone. The book could have used some editing, however, the reader can forgive this oversight as she speaks in a conversational tone and the stories flow nicely. There are some repetitive themes, but overall it’s an easy and pleasurable read.

The warrior spirit in Woolard spares us the gruesome details of her anal cancer treatment. She gives the reader just enough information which helps one to imagine the suffering she experienced. She writes in a way that reassures the reader that although cancer and it’s treatment are difficult, the alternative is worse.

For those who want closure, they will find the last story of her post-anal cancer treatment to get a “colposcopy” a bit frustrating. The chapter called “Caving” does not provide the reader with the results of her biopsy, but Woolard states she hopes she had experienced the last appointment with that doctor (we can only hope along with her!).

In the final chapter, Woolard shares her own personal growth experience. I found this chapter called “Everything I Have Learned from Cancer” especially inspiring (as I am also affected by anal cancer myself). Many of her insights such as “setting new goals after cancer” and “improving connections with others” are very positive and uplifting. I can definitely identify with her lessons learned. She states, “As I age, I’ve begun to believe something that I’d never pondered in years past. I’ve always assumed that all of both the good and the bad that we experience culminate in who we become. Now, drawing upon many decades of both ends of the experience spectrum, I think all of it should be credited with making us richer, deeper, more complete human beings.”

A recommended read for those affected by cancer, especially newly diagnosed anal cancer patients, their families and survivors of cancer.

Get your copy – Brown Ribbon: A Personal Journey Through Anal Cancer and the Adventure it Entailed (2016) by Robbi Woolard.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

Patience: A Calm, Accepting Approach to Interrupted Plans

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We were running out of eggs and milk (and a few other things) so I decided to make a trip to Costco. Also, I had to pick up some medication. I call it a “trip” because I find the whole process quite overwhelming, even on a good day.

Recovering from a serious illness like cancer and its treatment takes time. Everything is slowed down and I have to be wary of running into some unexpected physical problems. I have to be ready for anything.

I learned something about myself today as I ventured out. Over the last few months, I have developed a very enhanced skill of patience. I noticed a lack of frustration and agitation as I moved through the motions of this Costco trip. What would normally make the average person impatient or annoyed, didn’t seem to bother me. I have never been much of an impatient type, but today I noticed a greater sense of calm and tolerance about me.

As I entered the parking lot, I didn’t mind that there were cars stopped, turning, moving slow, in front of me. I didn’t mind that I had to go to the far side of the lot to find a parking spot (I thought it wouldn’t be busy on a Tuesday morning – Ya, right!). I was “in the moment,” enjoying the “flow of life.”

When I arrived at the entrance of the store, there were a lot of people getting shopping carts, and getting in line for the “membership card” check. I didn’t mind having to wait my turn. At this point, I noticed a lot of people (all ages, male/female) rushing. Almost cutting me off at times. I wondered if I was moving too slow? Well, I wasn’t about to pick up the pace, as I was doing the best I could.

As I moved deeper into the store, I was noticing how quickly some people were moving. I found myself asking them in my head, What’s the rush? Is life that hectic for you that you practically have to “run” through Costco with your super-sized cart? Almost running into people? I wondered if anyone has been knocked over before. Or hit with a cart. I immediately became more aware of the space I was occupying and tried to stay on the sidelines in order not to get hurt.

I enjoyed all the sights. All the new things. I picked up my needed items and found myself browsing through isles I hadn’t been in for a long time. Seems like most people were practically running by and throwing things in their carts. A younger mom with a child literally threw a bag of frozen blueberries into her cart, barely stopping to let the door of the freezer close. Meanwhile, here I was, taking my time, looking at labels. Letting people go ahead of me.

When I got to the pharmacy, there was an older woman in line. I asked her if she was in the “Pick Up” your medication line. She only smiled at me. So I got closer and asked her again as I realized she didn’t hear me the first time. She apologized for not hearing me and said she was in line and moved forward a bit. I was not annoyed at all by her initial lack of response. Again, that sense of calm and patience was with me and I was surprised at the amount of understanding and compassion I had for her. I told her not to worry. I got in line behind her. As I picked up my medicine, I told the staff member I needed some info changed on my account (my phone number for example). She apologized and told me I had to go to the “Drop Off” line. I was completely okay with it and moved into another line.

I completed my shopping and got into another line to go through the checkout. A middle-aged woman cut in front of me and smiled. She said, “I am just trying to get in line.” I smiled back and gestured to her to go ahead of me. I was thinking maybe she has someone waiting for her at home, or maybe she’s on a tight deadline. So once again, my patience grew.

As I was leaving the store to get back into my car, there was an older man coming up and one of us had to let the other go by first or we’d crash into each other. I decided to slow my pace and let him go before me. I wondered what the proper etiquette is nowadays. Does a middle-aged woman (younger) let an older man go first? Or should the older man allow the woman to go first? Either way, I felt another surge of kindness and patience, and let the man go first.

I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation in the last few months. Does that have an influence on my levels of patience and calmness? I wonder. Or is just because I have been away from the hectic “Rat Race” for so long?

When I Google the definition of “patience,” the following comes up: “Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” I’d say I totally agree with that definition, as I lived it today.

As I get older, as I get more experience in life, my ability to be patient is developing into something beyond what I ever imagined. They say patience is a virtue. So that’s a good thing, right? However, maybe patience is a day-to-day thing, and maybe I won’t have much of it left by tomorrow.

What is your patience level like? How do you feel waiting in lines and having people cut you off? What do you make of this trip to Costco?

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is the creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “Gerontology Professionals of Canada.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

What a Cancer Diagnosis Taught Me About Hope and Faith

 

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Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A cancer diagnosis in April 2017 has jerked my world. Just hearing the words “You have cancer” changed my whole perception of life. There are no other three words I have ever heard that have impacted me so greatly, in a negative way. My initial reaction was all about How do I tell the kids? Then it moved to I am not ready to die. I want to see Simone graduate. I want to grow old. I want to see my grandchildren. I became very sad and scared. I was mourning the loss of my future. I found myself not only turning to loved ones in my life but God.

My gut instinct was telling me to go to church. I saw the priest and he performed an “Anointing of the sick.” I cried as he did this. I also attended a “Spirit Room” where they pray for people’s healing. I went to Sunday mass. I went to Novena. Most times I had loved ones with me. I bought a Catholic prayer book. I wore a rosary bracelet, gifted to me by a dear friend. I prayed to God. I prayed for strength and courage to get me through. I asked the priest how I will get through this. He said, “Let God carry you.”

As I went through tests and learned about my treatment plan (chemotherapy and radiation), I continued to pray. I found myself questioning why this happened to me. I was a good person. I lived a healthy lifestyle. I read a book called, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” I read all kinds of books and articles on the internet. Articles written by people of faith. People who had cancer. I tried to understand why this happens in God’s world.

I started to question natural disasters. The year of 2017 has been the most tragic I can ever remember in terms of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and mass shootings. I questioned why God would allow this to happen. Many people pray for those who are suffering, grieving, ill and forlorn. We pray to God who we expect to make things better.

I have learned throughout my cancer treatment for anal cancer (which was torturous) that God has a plan. He has given us human will. He has not taken this away from us. There are tragic events that will happen due to malicious human will whether it be from mental illness or a criminal mind. As examples, the mass shootings or terrorist massacres are a direct result of human will. In addition, tragic events happen due to human error. God does not “will” these things to happen. But He gives us the strength and courage to come together to aid and comfort one another. He gives us the capacity to love and support one another.

When God creates such a magnificent world in which we live, we have to learn how to live with the natural events that occur. Severe weather patterns, the earth’s shifts, and other disasters such as widespread fires happen which I believe is beyond God’s control. We take the beauty of a rainbow, or a sunset, or in the tiny petals of a flower as signs of God’s creation and love for us. We seek God’s good as He is an all-powerful, loving God.

When illness or suffering strikes, I witness many people praying for God’s healing powers. There are faiths based on the Bible that believe God can heal. In the Bible it says Jesus healed those who were ill.

I believe that God gives the healers in our lives the ability to learn and use their God-given talents to help when one is sick. For example, when I went through radiation, I believe it was God working through the doctor who determined where to aim the destructive beams of radiation. I trust that the specialist did her best and that God helped guide her. I also believe that God was working with all the support staff, such as the radiation therapists, who ensured the proper administration of my treatment. This is an example of my faith.

The way my body responds to the treatment is all part of the bigger plan set out by God. I believe the plan is already designed. Praying for “health and healing” won’t matter because the determination of my fate has already be set. Instead, I HOPE for these things but accept what is meant to be. This belief helps me cope with the unknown. I focus on my day-to-day life and avoid thinking about my unknown future. I think about that infamous line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done”, and find comfort knowing that my future is in God’s hands.

God helped me through my darkest, most traumatic times during my treatment. I pray for strength, courage, and patience. At times I called out for God to help me. The pain was so severe that one time I asked Jesus to help and I actually saw him standing by my side in his white robe. This was very comforting in the most painful time of my life.

When people pray for God to heal someone or themselves, some will be disappointed. Some people will not be healed, and they will succumb to their ailments. So if someone does not make it, does that mean God did not answer his or her prayers? Does it mean they did not pray hard enough? Maybe their faith wasn’t strong enough? This is where it gets difficult to keep the faith. It may leave people wondering why God did not answer their prayers.

I think the better way to go about praying for healing is to pray that the person has the courage, strength, and patience to get through whatever is happening and they don’t have to suffer too long. If it is God’s will that they suffer, we must remember that the reason for suffering may have an answer, or it may not. A priest I talked to even said sometimes we don’t know why some things happen. It’s a test of our faith, to know that God has a plan, and we need to accept it.

Encouraging people with cancer to “fight the fight” can also create the same kind of outcomes. If they did not “fight” hard enough – if they decide to “give up the fight” – does that mean they were bad or weak? We want to believe we have control over our health and our outcomes. We only have so much control. The rest is in God’s hands.

Hoping for a speedy recovery, hoping for the end of suffering, hoping for a positive outcome is what we all wish for. No one wants to see suffering. No one wants to lose a loved one. But if it is God’s plan that the outcome is other than what we hoped for, we need to accept it. How many times have we heard, “Now she won’t be suffering anymore.” “His pain is gone.”

Faith and hope are two concepts which are very closely related. I now understand the difference. Faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful God with a master plan helps me cope with my circumstances and what is happening to others who are facing adversity. He knows best. We can learn from these adversities. It usually helps us become more compassionate, and loving if we look for the positive in these situations. I actually admitted that having cancer and going through treatment was a gift. It has helped me become more understanding and compassionate towards those suffering or diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I understand what “torture” is. I understand what depression feels like.

Hope is what we need to keep us going. Hope helps us sort out what is important to us and what we want and need in life. Hope is the belief in positive outcomes. It helps us cope and cling on to what we value and love. Hope is a way to show others that we care.

My faith is strong and will continue to be strong throughout my healing journey. I put my trust in God and will accept whatever His plan is for me. I will continue to hope for the end of suffering and many more years of health and happiness. I hope that I can see my daughter graduate from university, start a career (like my son Lorenzo has) and see my children get married and have children of their own. I hope that I can grow old with my husband, Agapito. God-willing.

Peace, love and hugs,

Angela G. Gentile

 

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

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dōTERRA Essential Oils & Aromatherapy in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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doTERRA Essential Oils Sample, Winnipeg, Manitoba

My first experience with essential oils was when an older man I was assessing told me he was using “Tea Tree Oil” on his toenails as he had developed a toenail fungus. He applied this essential oil to his toenails at night and he said it was helping restore his toenails back to a healthy state.

The next time I heard about essential oils was when my husband was given an oral spray made with oregano essential oil that he could use for his acid reflux. How could this help, I wondered?

Then I started to hear about room sprays. Some were chemically-based, while others had pure, natural ingredients. The spa I visited had “lemongrass ritual” essential oils infused into the air. The massage therapist used “Japanese mint oil” on my back. Thermea uses many different types of essential oils, such as orange and pine. I’d see them (and smelled them!) in the mall at Saje and Escents. I started to have an aversion to products with “fragrances” from places like Bath and Body Works. I started learning more about toxic chemicals.

My love affair with learning more about natural plant-based products was born!

I have been learning a lot over the past year about different essential oils and I am amazed at their emotional and physical health benefits. Whether it’s lavender to help you sleep or lemongrass to help uplift your spirits, these natural plant products have scientific backing and their popularity is growing. There are many therapeutic properties in the natural essences of plants and flowers, too many to mention here!

The problem is, as a person new to essential oils, you can become very overwhelmed with information on the internet. There are different qualities of oils as well. I have purchased the most inexpensive ones at the drug store and off eBay, only to find out they don’t work and who knows what’s in them!

My search was on for a reputable company. I looked at Young Living Essential Oils. I compared. I read. I watched videos. Finally I found a company that was right for me – dōTERRA (pronounced doe-terra which means “Gift of the Earth”). Their products are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG).  They came to Canada (June 2016) and the company has been in operation since 2008.

As a Wellness Advocate for dōTERRA essential oils here in Winnipeg, I would love to speak to you about how essential oils can help you. I offer free consultations and classes and I have a website you can go to to see the products guide.

If you want more information on dōTERRA, or essential oils, please let me know! I’d love to share my knowledge and products with you!

Sincerely,

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW – Wellness Advocate for doTERRA Essential Oils.

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