Those who have known my work for decades are well-aware that for me illness, or any disorder, is a time to stop, look inward, and reflect. What stressors have been in your life? What issues are you not dealing with? What possible message could this illness be giving you? 

I don’t just say this simply from an academic perspective, I have done the same with every disease or disorder that has impacted my life. Thankfully there have been very few, nonetheless they have occurred. A few years ago, I discovered a basal cell cancer on my leg when seeing my dermatologist. 

As a year of health for me after Covid when many medical offices were closed, I have decided that this year when things are opening up again, to go head to toe reevaluating my whole body from needed weight loss, to eye care, dental care, and down. It was discovered that a larger basal cell cancer had developed and now a plastic surgeon was needed. Twenty stitches later, renewed health, and hopefully the last procedure, has called me to look at what is happening in my inner world that I may not have been dealing with. 

Accidents, broken bones etc. can remind all of us it is time to slow down, to breathe, and to heal. Our bodies almost force us to. We can easily see that message. Unless of course we refuse to hear the message and push forward as if nothing has happened. After the last few days in bed or on the couch with my leg raised, I am certain something has happened, and the inner journey is lovingly being undertaken. 

What do you do when you are sick? When you get hurt? Break a bone? Pull a muscle? The bottom line is the same for all of it. Friends who may not be believers will say to me, “Can’t a cigar simply be a cigar?”  Sure….  I smile and walk away and they know me well enough to know I will be here when they later ask me, “How or why did this happen?” as they inevitably do. 

Today is my simple message as a reminder… There are hundreds of environmental problems that can cause disease or disorders. However, how is it that only some of the people exposed to those conditions become sick while others don’t? Why do some have mild symptoms while others are at death’s door?  

STRESS and our ability to handle it (or not) impact our immune system and our adrenals. When they are weakened our defensive protections against disease or disorders break down and we become far more vulnerable. Sleep, exercise, and eating well are imperative, although, yes, the occasional wild weekend is acceptable… 

Enjoy every moment of life that you can but still practice meditation, or reflection, or sitting in quiet as well, so that you can stay attuned to how your body is responding to the stressors around and within it. Whether they are “small” or “large” is irrelevant. How you are handling them is what counts. Can you be that honest with yourself? Avoiding that heart attack, stroke, or even the common cold is so worth it. 

I’ve had friends say to me “I thought I was handling it well but clearly…”  in confusion after an argument broke out or an illness developed. Recognize that our beliefs and our fears are rarely based on logic, usually they are based only on our interpretation of past experiences and our fears of the present or future. That’s why taking time away from your life, so you see things from a better distance, allows you the peace, reflection, and disconnection to simply let things be. And to allow your immune system to strengthen while you also let go of that fight or flight pattern that is also draining your adrenals.  

It’s not always easy but boy is it a greatly developed practice when we do it frequently. Even then, however, we are only human. Smile and love yourself. It’s always a great place to start.


About Dorothy

Dr. Dorothy’s life story of coming from an orphanage, being raised in the housing projects of South Boston, becoming a Catholic nun, an international airline stewardess, a wife, mother, graduate faculty member, Clinical Instructor at a Medical School, and so much more provides the perfect backdrop for her message of joy, humor, passion and faith as the necessary tools for life.