The Voice

Transforming the Trauma of Cancer and Its Aftermath

I was 32 and a brand-new mom when I was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time, it was a complete shock and seemed so unexpected. How could I, an otherwise healthy young woman, with no significant tobacco history, have lung cancer? 

Susan Smidley Resilient Souls
Susan Smedley (right) with her adult children

Over time, however, I began to understand how much of what I had experienced in my life, up until that point, had set the stage for coping with a major health crisis like lung cancer. Because I had an interest in alternative ways to help with healing, I followed my instincts and explored acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, therapy and reiki to help support a deeper healing. I learned more and explored mind/body connections through the work of pioneer Louise Hay and her book, “Heal Your Life”, where, according to her mind/body theory, “Unexpressed grief and depression can get stuck in the lungs.” I thought about this deeply. With this intense focus on mind/body healing, I  felt in my heart that all the trauma and abuse I had experienced had weakened my body and devastated my health. While shocking, my diagnosis made sense as viewed through a mind/body lens. How thought, beliefs and perspective can help to influence the body for the better or for worse.

I have learned a great deal about focusing on wellness, despite cancer and traumatic circumstances. I have worked for years as a patient advocate, and collaborated with Upstage Lung Cancer on helping to share patient voices at Spring, Sing Out Concert series. Recently I recorded a podcast for Backstage @ Upstage.

It is now twenty-five years since my shocking lung cancer diagnosis, and it feels like the perfect time to share all I have learned through a new organization I have created Resilient Souls, an online resource and platform for women who have received a diagnosis of any type of cancer. In addition, I am launching a brick and mortar studio, Resilient Soul Yoga, in Colorado. The goal is to aim for resilience!