I never thought my addiction could increase my risk of breast cancer (Photo: Mandy Charlton)

I remember sitting in one of those high back chairs, the one with the plastic feel. Eeasy to clean up spills I think.

I stood up straight with my eyes closed and tried to concentrate on what was being said to me.

“Become aware of the ticking of the clock…imagine a feather floating down…” but at the same time I was aware of the nurses talking and laughing outside in the hallway; I heard the clank of chemotherapy drug carts and the buzz of fire doors swinging back and forth.

This was my first hypnotherapy session that I received from my trust hospital to support my breast cancer treatment.

Little did I know it would change my life – forever!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been one of those people who are always busy.

I always wore something whether it was for work or family.

I was a social worker for over 20 years and worked in child protection. I often worked late nights and weekends and was separated from my husband and two children for weeks.

work came first; there was never time for anything else.

Looking back, the scales definitely tipped the wrong way and this contributed to the failure of my marriage.

To cope with the stress, I smoked and drank heavily—probably to self-medicate, mistakenly thinking it would relax me.

Looking back now, I see that for many years there was not much fun in my life.

I realized I was alone and thought I was going to die (Photo: Pippa Jeffrey)

Then, in April 2014, at the age of 48, I found a pea-sized hard lump in my left breast. After a mammogram I was told I had stage 3 breast cancer.

My whole world stopped.

Until now I had drunk at least one bottle of red wine every night and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. I knew it wasn’t healthy, but I never thought my addiction could increase my risk of breast cancer.

Actually, I thought I was pretty healthy. I ate well, exercised, and was slim, but had bad habits that probably only exacerbated my poor health.

Although I have had a few relationships since the end of my marriage, they were short-lived and nothing serious. Especially at that time I had no partner to rely on, I was alone.

I had no practical or emotional support. My mother died when I was young and I was still grieving after my father passed away unexpectedly six months earlier. I suddenly felt very vulnerable and scared.

I realized I was alone and I thought I was going to die.

I worried about my children if I died and how they would cope emotionally with my illness. My daughter was only 19 and I supported her through college as she struggled with the loss of her grandfather.

My son was 27 and was going through emotional things himself while also grieving.

One of the worst things about being a parent is that you can’t take your kids’ pain away no matter what.

I couldn’t imagine how much pain they would feel if they lost their mother.

After the shock of the diagnosis and after working out a plan with my oncologist, including a lumpectomy and radiation, I was offered a range of alternative therapies through my NHS Trust. One of them was hypnotherapy.

I was curious how it would help me, but I just wanted to feel better. I was willing to try anything and went in with an open mind.

Hypnotherapy works for anyone who is open-minded and wants to change

I remember sitting with a hypnotherapist during my first session who made me close my eyes and focus on the ticking clock in the background. He then had me visualize a calming place in my mind to go to, even when I wasn’t hypnotized.

While this was a nice experience, I didn’t notice the effects right away. It has grown a bit over time.

In the following weeks I felt calmer, more relaxed and more positive. It enabled me to think more clearly.

It helped me process what was happening to me and my body so that I was less afraid and could control my emotions.

I felt more in control and focused. Things I used to worry about suddenly weren’t a problem anymore, it helped put things into perspective – it almost certainly improved my emotional health.

However, I continued to smoke and drink during my treatment. I knew I had to stop both, but I still think I was in denial. Addicts apologize for their vices, and in hindsight I do too, though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time.

After my surgery was completed six weeks later, I had a few months to recover before radiation began. That gave me the chance to rethink my life: I didn’t want to end up here again.

Jacqueline Carson outside with her dog Ollie, dressed in a white top, jeans and sunglasses, smiles at the camera.

Hypnotherapy helped me process what was happening to me and my body (Photo: Pippa Jeffrey)

First I had to get rid of the stress, which meant I had to change jobs. After that I knew I had to quit smoking and drinking.

After experiencing the positive effects of hypnotherapy in October 2016, I decided to retrain as a clinical hypnotherapist.

I was so impressed with my own experience that I wanted to share it with others. After qualifying, I rented a room and started attracting clients, but I knew I also had to work on myself.

In December 2016 I stopped smoking with hypnosis. It was so easy I couldn’t believe it. I’ve dreamed of quitting smoking for years, but it never happened. Now I can’t stand the smell let alone ever think about smoking again.

Quitting drinking took a little longer – the thought of it scared me. I was afraid my body would have a side effect and I would have a heart attack or seizure.

I was afraid of wanting to drink and not being able to. This is the illusion that addiction creates, it makes you think you need something and panic sets in when you can’t get it.

In the end, I wrote down all the things I usually ask my clients, such as what I drink, when I drink, my triggers, and the benefits of quitting. I then wrote down the words as I would say them to a hypnotized client, and after memorizing those words, I hypnotized myself.

That was in January 2019 and I haven’t had a drink since.

As soon as I stopped drinking, another problem popped up: I started being sweet. I craved cakes and sweets, which I was never used to. I then used self-hypnosis to eliminate sugar in the same way as alcohol before finally eliminating animal products as well.

I am now smoke free, sugar free, teetotaller and completely plant based.

Have you ever tried hypnotherapy? Share your thoughts in the comments belowanswer now

Looking back, I am amazed but incredibly proud of myself. I changed my whole lifestyle and there is no doubt that hypnosis saved my life.

Hypnotherapy works for anyone who is open-minded and wants to change. For example, there’s no point in going to hypnotherapy to quit smoking if you really don’t want to quit because it’s unlikely to work.

It’s been almost nine years since my cancer diagnosis – for which I’m in remission – and I couldn’t be happier.

Through hypnotherapy I have taken control of my own health and healing.

I put myself above everything. I prioritize both my physical and mental well-being – eating well while still taking the time to practice hypnotherapy.

Every day I walk my dog ​​Ollie in nature, dance and go to the gym twice a week, meditate and play drums. My relationship with my children is good and I am a grandmother for the first time, which is great.

I couldn’t be further from my former self.

Finding hypnotherapy not only saved me from myself, but gave me a whole new purpose to serve others and help them improve their lives.

I am really grateful for that.