Meet Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos

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More than 10 million Americans are currently living with cancer? Global cancer rates could increase by 50 percent to 15 million by 2020.

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Featuring Kat






FIRST-PERSON NARRATIVE NONFICTION/CANCER                                                 118,190 WORDS/ 27 CHAPTERS


By Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos

Two-time Breast Cancer Survivor


WE CAN Breast Cancer Mentor

Cape Women Online Magazine contributor and Q&A columnist (

Author of SURVIVING CANCERLAND: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing


Medical history repeats itself as a young woman embarks on a Wonderland journey. She seeks a cure for cancer recurrence by challenging medical authority with information from the dream realm of healing and must rely on her amusing “inner selves” in the process. Rather than believing healthy medical test results she summons the courage to defy her doctors and uses everything available in this world, and the next to save her life again. The healing power of humor, prayer, and spirit teach her an important lesson: “We are not alone.”


“ALICE AND KNIGHT”: This page was scanned from an original book dated 1870. It is a color illustration by John Tenniel from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-glass, and what Alice found there.


You’ve heard of Alice’s adventures through the looking glass. Well, I embarked on a similar journey.  Rather than heading down the rabbit hole of my first cancer, I reluctantly re-entered CANCERLAND through the looking glass of lobular cancer which has the tendency to mirror itself in the other breast.

What is CANCERLAND?  Think of it as the intellectual, emotional, and psychic amusement park of cancer treatment where every ride, game, and attraction demonstrates a different aspect of humanity’s complexities and individualism during treatment. CANCERLAND provides multiple explanations of the way things are in the physical, spiritual, psychic, and dream worlds of crisis.

I use the allegory of Alice’s travels to make the crucial parts of my cancer treatment and recurrence survival more accessible and less frightening while explaining the importance of dreams during times of crisis.

Have you ever heard your nagging inner voice disagree with scientific or statistical facts and wondered which to believe?  Have you ever regretted not going with your gut instincts?  And have your gut instincts ever proved that certain supposedly indisputable facts were wrong?

What I seek to present by writing this book is an alternative to ignoring our intuition in favor of science or ignoring science in favor of intuition.  Why limit ourselves with one when we can use both to our advantage?

You don’t have to be psychic to believe your intuition, dreams, or inner voices. You just need to trust in yourself.  In order to effectively battle illness, we must get in touch with our inner selves and work together toward the goal of survival by using everything available to us. By searching “within” through dreams, meditation, or prayer, we will find our own set of answers to any challenge.  No matter how confusing they may seem, our dreams are always telling us something.

Our inner selves use signs and symbols that include and go beyond dreams to communicate with us. Listen to your fears but don’t let them rule your life.  Let them guide you to action. Be a squeaky wheel until you are acknowledged.  Don’t take no for an answer, don’t settle for less, and don’t be dismissed. Hoping someone else makes the right decisions for you when you are in a life crisis is a half-plan missing a vital component and your biggest resource: YOU! Take care of your Spirit and it will take care of you.

SURVIVING RECURRENCE offers encouragement and hope for anyone dealing with any life crisis. It is a practical way of integrating mind/body/spirit healing with state-of-the-art medicine for a remedy that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.  My regime evolved into a prescription for mending the whole being that went beyond surviving to thriving.

There are breast cancer recurrence survivors.  Read my book and meet one. 

C H A P T E R 1


“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

Anne Frank (1929-1945)

When I grew up I wanted to be a Playboy bunny. I wanted to have their gorgeous hair, beautiful faces, and perfect breasts. As a skinny little girl of eight who was easily influenced by society’s culture of sex and beauty, I was sure that those breasts were what everyone wanted.

It was Saturday morning in Berlin, Germany. The apartment was quiet, cold and damp.  Trees from the forest outside my window held moisture inside the bedroom. I knew what Mom would say if I crept into her bedroom down the hall. “Kathy, please. Let us sleep until nine.” Weekend sleep-ins were a treat after her late shift as an R.N at the Military Hospital.

However, if weekend mornings were lonely for an Army-brat only child, they were also golden opportunities for exploration into forbidden regions of life that were considered too mature for proper little girls. I listened again for any noises of movement. Silence from the kitchen that housed Chippy, my hamster, told of his surrender to sleep after a long night’s attempt at freedom.  When he did escape he always headed for Dad’s combat boots tucked beneath the wall radiator. Breathing from my parent’s bedroom reassured me that no one would know.

So, with Gee-Gee (my imaginary childhood friend) by my side, and my Barbie doll in my hand, we plopped onto the hardwood floor beside my bed, slid the stolen Playboy Magazine from under it, crossed our legs under us, and opened the musty pages to the well-smudged centerfold.

We weren’t alone anymore. We were in another place and time—my future.

I adjusted my head as I rotated the page and gazed at the woman in all her glory. Gee-Gee gawked at her with the curiosity of a nine-year-old boy, while I gazed in expectation of adulthood. She was every bit as beautiful as Barbie, and Barbie was the most beautiful doll in the world. I shivered from excitement rather than cold as my heart beat louder in my ears. To me, this Playboy Bunny was the emblem of organic beauty at its best. I was hopeful, envious, and eager.  In those stolen moments, I dreamed that someday I would grow up and have beautiful breasts, too. At least that was the consensus of opinion that morning between Barbie, Gee-Gee and me.

Most childhood dreams fade with time, but mine were shattered twice by breast cancer. Both times it was missed by my doctors, but not by my intuitions, dreams, and “spiritual guides,” one of whom may have been Gee-Gee.


This was wrong—so wrong!  No one should have to fight this hard in a hospital to get the tests they know they need to stay alive. I was out of breath, out of patience, and my blood was boiling with rage as I burst into my doctor’s waiting room at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the second time in ten minutes.

“That’s it! I’ve had enough!  I don’t want any more run-around!”  I hissed under my breath at the secretary seated behind her desk.  She snapped to attention as I leaned closer, and her big blue eyes stared at me in disbelief.  Was she astonished at my anger or my return from the ridiculous quest for medical information that should have been in my records?  Maybe she thought I had given up and gone away after my wild-goose chase. I wondered how many times that strategy had worked on other patients.

Although I am at my wit’s end and really pissed-off, I’m not ready to make a big public scene yet.  I’ll save that as a last resort if threatening to make one doesn’t work.  This was not the way I wanted to start off the first day of March, 2003, less than a week after my healthy mammogram. I had burst into this same office that day too, but then it was out of fear, not anger after my unexpected visitor “from the other side.” A spirit guide dressed in brown robes and  …

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SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing

Sales of Kat's groundbreaking book "Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing" are underway. It is an account of how her precognitive dreams diagnosed her illness and healed her. Don't wait, order today by clicking the bookcover, above.