Friday, July 13, 2012



“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.” 

 ~Author Unknown

My name is Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos and I am a woman on a mission to save lives and teach people how to become victims no more by living their lives to the fullest despite life’s challenges.   

There is almost always a point in the process of life where logic, reason, and medical expertise fail.  At this point people often slip through the cracks, sometimes never recovering from dire situations. We forget that we hold the key to a victorious life rather than victims of policies, practices and unpredictable circumstances.

 As a two-time breast cancer survivor whose cancer was missed both times by doctors and the tests on which they relied, I am determined to raise awareness about the importance of self advocacy, listening to our bodies, and trusting in our inner-guidance that often comes in the form of dreams. We can choose not to be a victim in life.

“Kathy, go home. You are healthy,” my doctor told me again after my third mammogram, blood test and physical exam. I knew I had breast cancer. But my doctos would not listen to me. “Mammagrams are our Gold Level Policy for finding cancer and you don’t have it.”

 But that night my nightmares returned, told me again that I had breast cancer and to return the next day to my doctor, without a scheduled appointment. “You need exploratory surgery to find the cancerous spot.” In the dream, my guide handed me a small white feather and said, “If you use this feather to verbally fence against your doctor’s tests tomorrow, you will win and get the surgery you need. Believe,” my guide said and stepped out of my dream.

 My choice was to trust my nightmare or be a victim of misdiagnosis. What a decision! My doctor had undisputable medical tests from a leading cancer hospital in his “war chest.” I had an imaginary feather from a dream in mine.  My biggest challenge was who to believe, my doctor or my dream. And how to convince the one I did not believe that my choice was to be taken seriously. I believed in my guided dream and lived to write about it. Five years later I chose to self advocate and trust my dreams again rather than be a victim of hospital policy that was not in my favor. Against all odds, I survived stage four cancer.  The medical community had let me down twice. Yet, I chose to use my emotions of anger and fear to spur myself to action rather than allowing them to throw me into the defeated mentality of a victim. 

 The chance of my dreams finding cancer missed by “state of the art medical tests” twice was as lucky as winning the lottery two times in a row. Luck had little to do with it. Devine intervention did. Listen to your physician within. Don’t tell your Higher Power how big your troubles are. She already knows. Tell your troubles how big your Higher Power is. Always work with your doctors, but never forget that you must make the final decisions, especially concerning life and death.

While undergoing months of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery, I always carried jokes and affirmations in my pocket and read them aloud during challenging moments. This taught me to “laugh until it healed.” Laughter raised my level of emotional vibration from low patient to high Thriver. I also learned to live by the rule, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” This is a form of role playing. Role playing is therapy often used by psychologists and psychiatrists. It is pretending which  can change behaviors and emotions. This can be the first step toward becoming a survivor and ultimately a Thriver. Pretend to be happy until you truly are.  Smile when you want to cry, and you may find that you are filling with joy. Embrace your troubled emotions with inner-joy to help keep them balanced. That is a key to health.

Here are a few of my favorite affirmations and a joke that kept me balanced.

Affirmation ♥~ Loving myself heals my life. Healing my life heals my body.

Affirmation ♥~ I nourish my mind, body and spirit with dreams and meditations.

JOKE: A wife invited some people to dinner. 
At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 
“Would you like to say the blessing?” 
“I wouldn't know what to say,” the little girl replied. 
“Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the wife answered. 
The daughter bowed her head and said, 
“Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” 

You cannot be a victim without your permission. That permission can be given as active actions, verbal agreements or passive acquiescence through silence. Take responsibility for your actions. Dare to be the little nut that stands its ground to become a tall oak tree. Know your boundaries. Learn to say “Yes” to yourself by saying “No” to others. This is not being selfish. It is being responsible. If you do not take care of yourself before you take care of others, you will set yourself up for defeat by being an empty well trying to give nourishing water. Nourish yourself first.

             Here are seven rules for becoming a victim no more:

·         Joy and sadness cannot share the same time and space because they are polar opposites. The same is true of victim and victor.

·         To be in pain is human. To suffer is a choice. Choose not to suffer.

·         View mistakes and difficult situations as opportunities to learn and you will never be victimized or defeated by challenges.  

·         Victory is a state of mind as well as a state of being. So, set your mind to be victorious in all circumstances.  

·         Respect your fears but don’t let them rule your life. They remind you that you are alive. Let them guide you to make correct decisions. 

·          Self advocate for the things you need in life and you will become a productive member of society and fulfilled human being.

·         Remember that you are never alone in your hour of need.  We all have spiritual guides. We are their job and they take their job seriously.

Loving family members who have died are often given permission to help us by appearing in our dreams with messages of love, guidance and strength. We often forget that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience on the earth plane. Surviving trauma of any kind is part of the experience of life. Our spirit can connect with spiritual and Devine guidance though dreams, prayer and meditation. The dream realm is a way our spirit can phone home for help. Listen to your inner-guidance. Believe in the power of your dreams.

 I am an advocate for organizations and movements based on encouraging women to stand up and be heard.  Stories of women who listened to their female intuition and connected with their inner strength despite adversity, are empowering. They learned not to take “No.” for an answer and they refused to be dismissed.

Be a squeaky wheel until you are heard. And remember to laugh in the face of challenges. It transforms you from victim to victor, takes away adversity’s power and transfers that power to you.

We must balance our body and spirit with conventional and intuitive practices for complete health and wellness. Learning to embrace both is as easy as loving both. This in turn will give us the strength to rise above being a victim of circumstances to become an active participant in our journey through the follies of life.

In the words of the esteemed Golda Meir, “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.”

  That is the key to being a victim no more.