Updated: Aug 16, 2018
Helgrid was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009. She was able to treat it quickly and successfully with surgery and radiation, but the experience changed her. Dealing with cancer eventually led Helgrid to make a career change from Western to Eastern medicine and to fully embrace living in the present. Now cancer-free for eight years, she radiates serenity, calm and peace.
In 2009, while Helgrid was completing a radiation oncology residency in Germany, she started to feel something off in her throat. An initial doctor’s visit concluded it could be Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and she was told to return for a follow-up appointment 6 months later. Instead, Helgrid returned to her native Austria to get married and then moved to the United States. However, the weird feelings and pain in her throat only grew worse, and she could no longer push them aside. Approximately 1 ½ to 2 years after her initial thyroid exam, Helgrid was diagnosed with Stage 1 Papillary Carcinoma (the most common type of thyroid cancer) with lymph involvement. One week later she had surgery to remove her entire thyroid and some surrounding lymph nodes. A single dose of radio iodine was then used eradicate any remaining cancerous thyroid cells in her body. Since then, Helgrid has stayed up-to-date with all her recommended follow-up exams and has remained cancer-free.
While Helgrid was aware of alternative medicine at the time of her thyroid cancer diagnosis, she was too scared to try anything outside of the standard western medical treatments in which she had been trained. Other than utilizing visualization techniques to envision her body being healthy and radiant, she strictly followed conventional cancer protocol to treat her cancer. However, this all began to change a few months after her surgery and treatment.
As part of her quest to fully heal, Helgrid used The Gut Flush Plan to cleanse her body. As a doctor, she knew the anesthesia toxins to which she was exposed during surgery could build up and overwhelm her liver. She felt better and less tired following the cleanse, which had the added benefit of improving her mental health and confidence in full healing.
Helgrid then turned to Chinese Medicine and acupuncture for further recovery and healing. She was intrigued when a Chinese Medicine doctor said he could have cured her thyroid cancer without the surgery and radio iodine treatment. It was during this experience that Helgrid first began to think about making a career transition to an alternative type of healing modality.
While she briefly contemplated focusing her career on Chinese Medicine, she eventually decided to concentrate on Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. There was an Ayurveda and yoga institute nearby, and upon meeting the head instructor, she felt a very strong connection with the practice.
As Helgrid started training in Ayurveda, she quickly realized that many of the practices could help her continue to heal her own body. The training included becoming a yoga teacher and therapist. Yoga had a profound impact on Helgrid as she learned to connect with her body in a new and different way. As Helgrid explained, everyone has gross and subtle energy channels in their body and when these channels become compromised, it causes problems. The different practices of yoga, including asana (postures), meditation and pranayama (breathing practices) help to resolve these blockages by balancing the flow of the channels and therefore, the body.
Ayurveda’s premise is that every person is an individual who thrives when eating according to his or her individual body type. Using Ayurveda, Helgrid adjusted her dietary needs to address her body’s imbalances, finding the right diet for her in the process. She learned about establishing a daily routine with new activities like tongue scraping, oil pulling, meditation and yoga. She also added certain herbs to her diet and continues taking triphala on a regular basis to continue the gentle cleansing of her digestive system. Finally, Helgrid uses oiling (gently massaging one’s body with warm oil) on a regular basis to support her continued health and wellbeing.
Today, Helgrid feels extremely confident that she can handle current and future challenges, despite life’s uncertainties. She strives to always be present, focusing on spirituality and helping others rediscover their health and wellness through Ayurveda and yoga.
Turning Fear into Hope
Thyroid cancer greatly impacted Helgrid’s emotional, as well as physical, wellbeing. Thus, full healing required her to address both aspects of her health. As she began to deal with the physical manifestation of her body’s disease, Helgrid also needed to support herself mentally. She did this by acknowledging and surrendering to her fears and then focusing on maintaining a positive mindset. It certainly helped that her doctors were very supportive and continuously said that her prognosis was good. She also used visualization techniques. Helgrid kept a picture in her mind of traveling through a long black tunnel and at the end there was light. It was just a matter of getting through the tunnel, which represented her surgery and radio iodine treatment, to the light, which represented full health. In actuality, Helgrid's return to full health encompassed more than just the original cancer treatments of surgery and radio iodine. Through the cleanse, Chinese Medicine and finally Ayurveda and yoga, Helgrid feels she did eventually find true healing, both physically and emotionally.
Helgrid’s experience illustrates how important it is for people with cancer to balance their emotions and stay positive, because that frame of mind is so important for healing. Today, eight years later, fear still creeps in periodically when Helgrid feels off or rundown. Rather than suppressing her feelings, she addresses them directly. She does this by examining the root cause of her issue, rebalancing, meditating and letting go of the fear that the cancer might return someday.
Helgrid believes there is a reason things happen, no matter how bad they seem. Even when she doesn’t completely overcome life’s challenges, she still learns from them. Upon reflection, Helgrid believes the purpose of her cancer experience was to lead her to a new career in Ayurveda. Now she helps others rediscover their health while enjoying a much healthier lifestyle herself. As she stated, “Having cancer made me realize that I really need to do what I’m here to do or what I really want to do, what really makes me happy.”
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