Beatrice uses nice thoughts to beat ‘cancer’ wrap

BEATRICE Nicholson works tirelessly for the community at the Kingsley Hall centre in Bromley-by-Bow. She is an arts psychotherapist and development coordinator keeping things on the move. But few would guess she has been battling with a dark secret.

Beatrice has been struggling with breast cancer—but got through it. Now she has started teaching some of the techniques that helped her which she believes can help others facing life’s challenges:

I WAS diagnosed with breast cancer in July, 2008. It was a complete shock to me at the age of 36 with a history of robust good health, no cases of cancer in the family, nor any other known risk factors.

I had spent four years on a training course as an arts psychotherapist which led to an MA qualification. My approach to dealing with my cancer was inspired by this training that taught me the importance of looking at any of life’s problems from a creative and multi-dimensional viewpoint.

I have the belief that all people have creative ability and it is our birthright to use this. I believe that creative self-expression contributes to health and vitality.


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I followed the treatments recommended by the hospital, of course, but also used many complementary therapies as part of my healing journey.

I wrote a diary which included drawings that helped me tap into my deeper thoughts and feelings, which at times were hidden under waves of fear and indecision.

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Having gone through my arts psychotherapy training, I was aware how helpful it can be to turn to the wisdom of the imagination as a way of tuning into the deeper, inner truths that can help show the next steps forward.

One of the techniques I discovered for dealing with fear and helping with the all important positive attitude to the illness was the ‘Endorphin Effect’, pioneered by one of Britain’s leading holistic writers and educators, William Bloom.

With this technique, you can help release some of the anxiety and worry that inevitably goes along with a cancer diagnosis.

When the body and mind are stressed, it produces the chemicals cortisol and adrenaline, which contribute to acidifying the body, which in turn weakens the immune system.

This is obviously to be avoided in any situation in life—but particularly in the face of a life-threatening illness.

This technique helped me have a good ‘bedside manner’ inside my own skin!

No matter what was happening to me, having a scan, waiting to see the doctor, chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy.

I could always find time to close my eyes, focus on deep breathing, consciously choose to release all worry knowing worrying is not doing me any good, and bring a pleasant thought or image to mind instead.

I would often imagine myself in a beautiful garden or by the sea. These pleasant thoughts trigger the endorphins and each person has triggers that are personal to them.

The trick is to absorb the pleasurable experience—rather like a sponge soaking up warm water. Endorphin means endogenous morphine, morphine produced within the body itself. Endorphins help remove stress and pain and are the ‘feel good’ chemicals that come when we experience pleasure.

“This technique was very helpful to me as I could use it anywhere—and it’s free!

It is empowering to take charge of your mental outlook, no matter what challenge you are facing. I’m sure this, as well as other complementary therapies, helped me survive the journey on this stormy sea.

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Beatrice Nicholson starts a free, hour-long afternoon arts therapy group for women on January 12, with exercises from William Bloom’s book ‘The Endorphin Effect’. The course runs each Wednesday, 2-3pm, for five weeks, at Kingsley Hall in Powis Road, Bromley-by-Bow, funded by the National Lottery—but donations are welcome which will go towards a ‘healthy diet’ caf� project Beatrice is planning. The course can be booked by phone on 07779-770468, or email beatricenicholson@gmail.com

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