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Guest Post from a Past Patient of Golden State Cancer Center

By: Golden State Cancer Centers on October 10, 2013

Today we invited a past patient of ours to talk a little about her journey through treatment and how she found ways to care for herself.  Currently, she is a meditation coach and will be hosting a FREE workshop at our center on October 30th at 6 pm.  Please welcome, Ms. Gail Serna.

My name is Gail Serna and I was a patient of Golden State Cancer Center. Currently, I teach meditation. Teaching meditation at Golden State Cancer Center is a way for me to give back to this caring organization. Meditation is a healing art devoted to the practice of clearing the mind with the breath and engaging in guided imagery and visualization exercises.  

This is my story: I started meditation as a way to relieve stress. When I was at a routine checkup with my primary care doctor, she was going to put me on blood pressure medicine. At that point we talked about other ways in which I could bring my blood pressure down naturally and she suggested meditation. I had three months to try lowering my blood pressure on my own. I sought out meditation classes in my area. I remember going to my first class back in 2008. I had no idea what to expect. It took me a little while to feel comfortable but I soon realized I liked it. Then as time went on, I couldn’t wait to go and even sought out other groups to join. I began to learn and study the healing art.

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative bilateral breast cancer back in January of 2011. When I first heard the word cancer out of my doctor’s mouth it sent all kinds of negative images through my mind. What a red letter day that was. I will never forget it. I am happy to report that I am in remission now. I credit my excellent team of doctor’s and my devoted practice of meditation for getting me through treatment much easier.

Meditation helped me to center myself especially during chemotherapy treatments. I could clear my thoughts and negative images in my mind and replace them with positive ones. My Oncologist couldn’t believe how well I was responding to my chemotherapy treatments especially since I had such an aggressive form of cancer. Chemotherapy seemed to be killing all the cancer cells not even half way through my rounds. So I explained to him that I practiced meditation. He could see how helpful this was for my own overall well being. Then, I had a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction which ended up being a 16 hour surgery and a five day hospital stay.  Meditation helped me to relax, manage my pain and relieve my stress.  I didn’t have to take as much pain medication as a result.  Rounding out the year, I underwent radiation. Although radiation is tolerable (compared to anything I had gone through up to that point) it still required my ability to center myself. With each radiation treatment especially when I was lying on the table, I would engage in the exercises I had learned. It made everything more bearable.

After getting a second chance at life, I could no longer be an Executive Recruiter which was my past career. I knew I had to share this knowledge of quieting the mind of excessive thoughts, working with the breath, using positive guided imagery and visualization techniques with others.
With my BA in Speech Communication and my ability to lead small groups, I teach meditation to businesses bringing the techniques to the workplace. In addition I run meditation circles out of my home- the second and fourth Saturday of the month.  An evening meditation circle will be forming soon.  For more information my website is