I was diagnosed with invasive ovarian cancer in July of 2005 and had two major operations, three rounds of chemo and six weeks of radiation while living alone and without any family members to support me. The counseling I received during my chemo treatments helped me to shed all of my negative, self-critical thoughts and paved the way toward total self-love and self-acceptance.
In 2011, I suddenly had the urge to transform the Through the Fire booklet into a full length book and reach a wider audience because I know many people around the world need as much help as I did to learn to love and accept themselves 100 percent. A recent BBC worldwide study showed that huge numbers of people are on tranquilizers and anti-depressants and suffer from a lack of self-esteem, which leads to many mental health problems.
The book starts with a graphic description of my cancer diagnosis and the feelings of terror that came with it. In the chapter entitled “I Love You?” I discuss how my amazing counselor used Buddhism, empathy, intuition, and common sense to help me drop my negative emotional and mental baggage and begin the process of healing through self-love and self-acceptance. The mind-body connection is very strong and one’s chances of healing are much greater if one sends loving thoughts to every part of one’s body. Most people have some harmful, self -critical thoughts that make their lives harder and more precarious than they have to be.
After my first round of chemo, I analyzed my past to find the origin of my harsh inner critic. In the chapter, “Ode to Joy,” I reminisce about childhood bullying, parental neglect, and my longing for a kinder and less judgmental world. Through the process of analyzing my past, however, I also found the roots of my budding self-love and acceptance.
Several chapters are written as short stories in which I analyze my past and the self-critical behavior of many of the people I knew. In “Full of Hope,” I summarize what I learned from analyzing my past and discuss my spiritual growth as I underwent a second chemo treatment. “Third Chemo” shows how I reached my goal of total self-love and self-acceptance with the help of good counseling and loyal friends.
Keeping a gratitude journal has greatly enhanced the quality of my life. By focussing on the positive aspects of every day and writing them down, one can improve one’s attitude toward life. I have included a few journal entries as inspirational examples in “An Attitude of Gratitude.
“The importance of love is the theme for the last three short stories and the essay “Love Has the Last Word.” In this essay, I attempt to show how pure logic, social research, medical research and all the major religions point to the same conclusion: You have a right and a duty to love and accept yourself. I was inspired to make sweet lemonade out of my cancer lemons, but you, dear reader, shouldn’t have to face a deadly disease to wake up. I hope this lemonade will improve your life.
“I have learned from experience that there is survival behavior. Crissa Constantine demonstrates this in her book and her ability to abandon her wounds and learn to love herself. When you learn to love yourself and your life amazing things happen to your body.”
-Bernie Siegel, MD, author of Faith, Hope and Healing and A Book of Miracles
“Illness, while never a welcome ‘addition’ to our world, often provides the impetus to search ourselves and, indeed, to search life itself more deeply and more passionately. In this beautifully written memoir, Crissa Constantine shares a remarkable journey of introspection, a journey that was in many ways launched as a result of an encounter with ovarian cancer. That this journey taught her that ‘love has the last word’ is reason indeed to celebrate, and to savor this account of her life and times.”
– Rev. Foster Freed, Knox United Church, Parksville, B.C.
“Crissa’s stories remind us that life is full of transformative moments when we are willing to learn from the teachers we encounter along the way. Since reading her book, I have been more aware of what I say to others and to myself. This book issues the ultimate challenge – that we learn to be kind to ourselves.”
-Lisa Leger, Women’s Health Educator
“Beautifully written, with all sorts of interesting life stories, insights, and inspiration.”
-Brad Nelson, Ph.D., Director, Trev and Joyce Deeley Cancer Research Center, Victoria
“Brilliant and very emotional.”
-Laura Hesse, screenwriter and author of The Holiday Series and The Gumboot & Gumshoe Series
“As more and more research shown connections between mental and physical health, Crissa demonstrates to the reader a framework of reexamining impressionable experiences of life. She shares her own challenges by taking the reader through vignettes and weaves her learnings of how she came to find her inner power of self-love. This book is a tool, for not only cancer patients but everyone, to discover the gift of self-love and acceptance.”
-Zoe Campbell, professional fundraiser
“Crissa Constantine’s book is a powerful message of hope and healing. Everyone who is struggling with a debilitating illness or an unhappy life will greatly benefit from reading her story of transformation. She beautifully and convincingly describes what true healing is all about and how you, too, can transform your life.”
-Gudrun Eichorst, Emotional Health Coach, The Oaktree Energy Medicine Center