Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'm Still Here!!

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone in Minnesota wondering if I was still alive!  So I was sorry not to have written anything on this blog for some time.  Yes, I'm still here.

After speaking with this woman I learned that she had a mother with cancer and lots of cancer history in her family.  She had been reading all kinds of cancer blogs in order to  understand the disease better.  She told me that this blog that I wrote really helped her to understand how to comfort her mom - what to say and not to say!

When she tried to find out if I was still around, she googled the name I had originally published this blog under, "Melissa Goldberg".  She couldn't find a therapist named Melissa Goldberg in Santa Cruz, California!
Finally she figured out how to contact me through email and was quite surprised my name is really, Allison Gilbert.  This started me thinking I needed to rename this blog and put a link on it to my website.

I've had clients who have gone through breast cancer and really enjoyed reading this blog.  One of the women goes back to it for information as she goes along in her treatment.  So my reason for publishing this under a pseudonym doesn't make sense anymore.

Originally I posted it because I knew I would help some people.  But since I was newly diagnosed and didn't have a whole lot of years in remission under my belt, I didn't want to publicize it to my clients.  It felt a bit vulnerable still and besides, we are trained as therapists to not reveal too much about ourselves to our clients.  It's an ethical problem because we don't want our clients to feel that they need to take care of us!  But we also want them to feel that the therapy is a place where the focus is on them and not on our own problems.

Still, as I work with more and more people, I find that self-disclosure is important - as long as it's done respectfully.  Most of the new mothers I work with absolutely benefit from knowing about my own struggles as a mother and my own relationship challenges with my husband and kids.  And the few cancer patients I've seen seem to also benefit from knowing my story.

Really, my story and experience with facing death and cancer treatment has informed the way I do therapy.  It's given me a tremendous wealth of information about facing darkness and finding the light in it.  I now teach monthly free Kabbalah classes in my office and this class came out of my commitment to share what I have learned from facing my own darkness.

It's been over 6 years now since diagnosis and my life couldn't be better.  So much growth came out of my experience that my life is transformed from the way it was prior to diagnosis.  My relationships are better, my work is better, my feelings about myself and what I can contribute have done a complete turn-around.  And I am now committed to continue to make my life worth saving.