A Weight Lifted


I have a 28-year-old sister with whom I’ve been very close since childhood. Sometimes she’s like a second mother to me. My parents are divorced, and I think that’s what made my older sister sometimes behave like a mother to me. I’m also quite close to my mother because I’ve lived with her since the divorce and strong bonds have been forged between my mother, my sister and me. For the last 5 years, I’ve also tried to foster this kind of bond with my father, even though it’s not easy to talk to him about everything.

Three years ago my sister learned that she had skin cancer. It was a fairly rare form of skin cancer because it started in a nail on her left foot. She had half a toe amputated, and the lymph nodes from her left leg were removed too. Following her amputation, she needed nursing care at home every night as she wasn’t able to walk. I had to take care of her at the same time as my schooling because I was doing a vocational higher-ed course at the time. So I would get everything that was needed to care for her, do the shopping, clean the house, help her out of her room and down the stairs. I would come back during my lunchtimes, so my mother wouldn’t have to.

When she could walk again on crutches, I would take her to work, to the doctor, I would pick her up when she needed to go home, I would take her shopping. When she was in hospital having her operation, I would visit her at noon and again in the evenings so that she didn’t feel lonely because I knew that she didn’t like hospitals very much.

So for several months I took on the role of the big sister, keeping her as busy as possible and making sure that everything went well for her. I attended my classes and my work, but I made sure I was available in case of an emergency.

Today, she’s doing much better but has regular follow-ups to make sure that the cancer is in remission. One day I accompanied her for a follow-up where she had a battery of tests and we learned that the cancer had returned but in her other leg. I thought that the world was collapsing around us, that we would have to redo the same pattern as before. We requested a second opinion and it turned out that there was an error in the test analysis.

Since I was a child I have gained weight easily and it’s difficult to lose it. After an appointment with my doctor where I tried to explain that I keep gaining weight, his verdict was that I must see a specialist. I’m not a fan of doctors, and my sister told me about Mrs. Bernard and her «magical» methods to understand where the weight gain came from.

So I made an appointment to see D.BERNARD. I asked my father to come with me because I didn’t want to go alone. We arrived 15 minutes early and I was very stressed because I was afraid of what was going to happen. I met D. BERNARD, we took stock of the kilos I wanted to lose; she explained her working methods and told me that I could still see a specialist at any time. I felt reassured but not completely. Then, the moment that I dreaded the most arrived; I had to give her my life «history». I did so and I tried to be as clear as possible and not to confuse my words.

Then the moment came when I had to talk about my sister’s cancer and I couldn’t stop crying because it was still so painful for me.

Dr. Bernard asked me what issue I would like to be free of first. I told her my sister’s cancer, so she proposed that I treat it with emotional regulation. Sceptical, I went along with it. She asked me to describe the moment when I felt the strongest emotions, so I explained that it was when we learned of the cancer’s recurrence; I started crying again and Dr Bernard asked me to close my eyes and describe everything that was happening in my own body. I took the time to explore internally and realized that I was tense, that I had a knot in my stomach and a tight throat. Dr. Bernard then asked me to allow these feelings to develop, which is exactly what I did. Then we started the exercise again and there, miraculously, I no longer felt anything; not even the desire to cry! I felt like I was free of an enormous weight!

When I came out of the meeting, I felt weird, empty. So, I willingly accepted to continue seeing Dr Bernard. My father had waited outside during the appointment, so I told him about my experience of emotional regulation, how I felt this weight leave my body and how I felt funny.

Since the initial appointment and the emotional regulation, I no longer experience my sister’s cancer as my own; I’m no longer afraid that the cancer will return. I’ve taken my place as a little sister and I no longer feel as responsible for her as I used to. I try to think more about my life and no longer project my sister’s life onto mine. I feel more at peace and better suited to enjoying the time I spend with her.

I have discussed other issues with Dr Bernard and since the beginning of my follow-up I feel a little better in my body – I have learned to eat when my body indicates a real hunger and I’ve been able to mark the distinction between hunger and anxiety. Since then I’ve dropped from 104cm to 99cm around the waistline. I can never thank Dr Bernard enough for all that she allows me to do and for the confidence she gives me during these appointments.