WHEN MARGARET DUBAY Mikus - author of the book As Easy As Breathing, the story of her struggle and triumph over cancer - was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, her first reaction was one of fear. She had just recovered from multiple sclerosis the year before and felt betrayed and abandoned by the news, calling it 'the dark night of her soul'. Armed with the experience from her earlier multiple sclerosis healing process, Mikus integrated conventional treatment with her own mix of holistic therapies, including yoga, hypnotherapy, reiki, expression through poetry, and jokes, backrubs and hugs with her children. She attended seminars on healing, formed a healing circle with family and friends, ate healthy foods and exercised. Mikus eventually healed from the cancer and now dedicates herself to helping others discover their full possibilities in life. Disease is the way in which our bodies try to give us a message. According to Louise Hay, author of the best-selling You Can Heal Your Life, cancer is a sign of 'deep hurt, long-standing resentment, deep secret or grief eating away at the self, carrying hatred and asking: What's the use?' Emotional healing, through counselling, bodywork, deep breathing and other emotional release therapies, form a critical component of any cancer healing programme. We naturally want to employ every tool at our disposal when fighting cancer. This means combining the determination to heal with the best that western medicine and holistic, alternative therapies have to offer. The orthodox cancer treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy take a lot out of patients. Common side effects include pain, fatigue, hair loss (often temporary), loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, rashes, sore skin and a depressed immune system rendering the patient prone to infections. While there are drugs to alleviate some of these conditions, holistic techniques are less intrusive and more nurturing. There is a wide range of holistic therapies to choose from, many of which are available in Hong Kong. Reiki uses life-force energy to ease pain and is especially helpful with minimising scarring after surgery. This technique also boosts the immune system and helps our bodies regain optimum health. Another healing method that works with life-force energy is qigong, China's centuries-old system of self-healing. Qigong combines simple, focused movements to strengthen the mind-body connection and can be useful in changing the course of life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Traditional Chinese medicine uses herbs and acupuncture to minimise the side effects of chemotherapy. Popular herbs include astragalus, good for strengthening qi (or energy), peony, used for nourishing the blood, and honeysuckle, useful for clearing toxic heat associated with chemotherapy. But our most enduring weapon in the fight against cancer is getting in touch with ourselves.