The Power of Pain

Though being diagnosed with FBC (f-bomb breast cancer) Rocked. My. World., one Silver Lining is that (as a nurse and social worker) the experience gave me a whole new consciousness and sensitivity to the patient experience.

Gary Zukav quotes,

Gary Zukav’s quote about the ability to feel another’s pain only after having felt your own pain resonates with me in a big way!

Finding myself on the other side of the bed helped me understand the physical and emotional aspects of the patient experience in ways I could never – ever! – have imagined. From the physical aspects – e.g., becoming a human pincushion as a result of near-daily needle sticks to the emotional ones – e.g., contending with sadness, fear and anxiety that often come with a cancer diagnosis.

Have you had this experience?  If so, please share!


Leave a comment


  1. Lauren says

    Hello Hollye,

    I stumbled upon your blog after pinning this quote:

    I've also ordered Pema Chödrön's "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" and I can't wait to read it!

    I'm happy to have found both of you.

    I'm a mental health counselor diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I've learned so much about myself through my illness. I like to think of myself as a "wounded healer". There are many times when I feel that my experience as a "client" makes me a better "therapist". Recently though, I've been feeling the stigma and shame of having a mental illness. It doesn't lend to the same compassion as cancer does. I do not look sick. My symptoms hurt the people I love. If I die from this, it is my fault. As a therapist, I cannot tell my clients that I can relate or that I know exactly what they are going through. I cannot share my experiences with them even though I know how comforting it can be just knowing that you are not the only one. I have to keep my illness a secret. I have to hide. I certainly have felt my own pain and I can truly feel the pain of others. Bipolar Disorder has been the greatest teacher of empathy for me. I just wish I didn't know so much.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your note, Lauren. A "wounded healer" is a great and beautiful image. Thank you so much for sharing. All my very best wishes to you!

  2. says

    Yes Hollye I think this is so true, just as it is true that the more we open our hearts to ourselves the more we are able to open them to others. The silver lining is that though we feel (emotional) pain more deeply, we may also feel joy more completely. Both are part of what it means to be fully present. Thanks and love, Frances