It is so appropriate I discuss my last pillar of health, loving and supportive relationships, during the week of Thanksgiving. Of course I love the food but I think of it as a small part of this holiday (I can’t believe that I just wrote that food is a small part of anything). I look at this holiday as a time to reflect on all the blessings that I have had in my life and in the last year. I usually spend the Friday after the holiday reflecting on the gratitude and appreciation for life.
I believe loving and supporting networks might be the most important element to healing. Having loving and supportive networks IS an essential element of wellness. I first learned of the power of love to heal while I was in medical school. I was captivated by a picture, the rescuing hug, and I had to find out the story behind it.
"The Rescuing Hug" is a story of the birth of twin infant girls. Shortly after birth, one baby was thriving while the other baby was not expected to live. The nurse attending them decided against the hospital policy and put the healthy thriving twin in the same incubator with the baby in critical condition. As the healthy twin put her arm around her sister, the failing baby's vital signs began to improve and normalize. They both survived and left the hospital in good health. The embrace of her sister had essentially saved the critical twin’s life. This poignant tale adeptly illustrates the power of love, support, and touch in the healing process.
Creating and maintaining support systems of family, friends, church, clubs, co-workers, neighbors, etc. creates a basis for sustainable health. I work a lot with patients living with cancer and their support systems are crucial during diagnosis and treatment. Many of my patients living with cancer are independent and self-sufficient and manage the diagnosis.
However, when it comes to handing the treatment, whether it's surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, they cannot manage without help. Physical, mental and emotional support to manage the little things can mean the difference between a successful or disappointing day.