Boost your Cancer recovery using Visualisation 

 April 27, 2020

By  Paul Coghlan

Boost Your Cancer Recovery Using Visualisation

“The most powerful thing you can do is to spend time everyday visualising your life as you want it to be.” - Abraham Hicks


Visualisation was a relatively new concept to me at the start of my cancer journey. I strongly believe, under different circumstances, I would have dismissed it as a little too “far-fetched” for my general thinking. 

However, when I heard the words AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) from my doctor a lot of things changed, including my level of comfort with far-fetched ideas!

It is amazing how your mind will open rapidly to previously unthought ideas when you are given a sub 10% chance to survive!

How Visualisation Works

After the initial shock, and the opening days of aggressive doses of chemotherapy, I did a bit of reading on visualisation. I uncovered there is a lot of research showing a strong scientific basis for how and why visualization works. Essentially, we stimulate the same brain regions when we visualize an action and when we actually perform that same action.

In a way, the subconscious cannot tell the difference between real and imagined input. Therefore, your brain sees as fact that of which you are imagining!

How I used Visualisation

Armed with this new information and some help I set out to convince my body that it was strong enough to fight the cancer. That it was fit enough to handle the intense chemotherapy treatment. That I could withstand the long road from cancer to ultimate recovery.


My goal was to be healthy and happy for the important future milestones that I set for myself and I began using visualization daily.


I used visualization for getting through challenging procedures during treatment, such as MRI’s and surgeries. I imagined sitting on the couch at home with my seven year old daughter wrapped in a fluffy blanket having cuddles before bedtime.


This was incredibly therapeutic and helped me to feel more relaxed and calmer whenever my anxiety levels started to rise.

I visualized for countless hours, in great detail, my 40th birthday party. I pictured myself surrounded by family and friends in my mother’s garden. I pictured the sun shining down on the picturesque Croagh Patrick mountain in the background. I imagined cutting the cake with my daughter. I visualised the smell of freshly cut grass and hearing the chatter of those I love, celebrating this day as the condensation ran down the glass of an ice-cold beer.

I pictured this day over and over with as much detail as possible, using all my senses. I could feel it. I could smell it. I could see it. I could touch it. Damn, I could even taste that ice -cold beer. It was as real as I could possibly make it!

The most important milestone I visualized was that of my daughter’s holy communion day.

I pictured this day with as much detail and emotion as possible. The pride a father feels, for his only daughter, on her special day. I imagined the self-control I would need in order to keep all those overwhelming emotions in check as I thought about seeing her stand before me in her beautiful dress. I smiled as I visualised the fun we would have dancing together and the teasing I would receive from her about the pink tie I planned to wear!


That day finally arrived. I was so proud that I had fought so hard to celebrate such a special occasion with my daughter. And just as I had visualised, I was overwhelmed with many emotions. She did laugh at my pink tie and we danced like no one was watching.

“The most powerful thing you can do – the thing that will give you much greater leverage than any action – is to spend time everyday visualising your life as you want it to be.” - Abraham Hicks   

How does my situation impact your situation? All cancers are individual to you and you alone.

How do you believe that you will see important milestones in your future when you are told you are dying?

What I Learnt from Visualisation

Visualization will give you the mental strength and belief to fight for what you so desperately desire.

Visualisation takes time, commitment, imagination and above all belief.

In times of serious adversity and throughout any difficult journey, finding and using your inner belief is one of the most powerful gifts visualisation can provide.

The power of visualization is something that should be an important component of any recovery tool box.

Visualization will compliment everything the medical team will do for your body and benefit your mind, your heart, and most importantly, your future.

Paul Coghlan

Paul Coghlan is a native of Westport, Co Mayo. He shares the experience of his shock medical diagnosis in 2018. Faced with an appalling prognosis, Paul unearthed character and determination he never knew existed. Paul has always been a keen sports man and credits a great deal of his recovery both mental and physical to his love of sport.

He has spoken to sports groups, youth organisations and businesses both in Ireland and abroad. His personality and humour allow him to speak openly and passionately about the lessons he has learnt through his adversity, making him a compelling, memorable and above all inspirational speaker.

Paul Coghlan

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