Flourish Magazine: Movement by Kathryn Hulland

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Flourish Magazine, News

As part of each issue of Flourish Magazine, we release weekly digital content alongside our free print magazine, on the Artlift and Yes to Life blogs. This is often content we couldn’t fit into the magazine’s limited pages, or film and music, but loved and wanted to show the world.  

This issue of Flourish Magazine was on the theme of ‘Movement’, with submissions from those living with or beyond cancer received through an open call for creative responses to the theme.  

In this week’s digital content, contributor Kathryn Hulland writes about how gentle exercise, animals, music and vitally – cuddles – are the kinds of movement that have supported her through her experience of cancer.

Read the print magazine online for free here, and watch this space for more digital content!

Movement 
by Kathryn Hulland

Movement – one word that holds many meanings, and is something I have struggled with my entire life. 

I was always active from a young age and obsessed with horses. In my twenties I was planning to join the police having been a Special Constable for a year, whilst working full time and helping to run a pony rescue centre, but an autoimmune condition put a stop to any police career I had hoped for, it made me incapable of movement.  I remember when it flared up, running after a perpetrator one Friday night I was out of breath in seconds – and that was it – no more police.  

Sometimes I could still manage all the physical movement I wanted, other times I was stuck in bed.  My spleen was removed, fibromyalgia took hold and life became a fine, fragile balance where no movement meant all levels of fitness would waste away, but too much and I was in a huge amount of pain, living with high levels of fatigue.  

In my late thirties I discovered a different kind of movement, one that would turn out to be instrumental in my ability to handle the words, “You have cancer”.     

I discovered meditation, mindful movement and breathwork.  Movement doesn’t have to be fast and physical, it can be very deliberate and slow. I started paying attention as I walked, noticing how my body moved and felt, picking up the subtle signs of when it needed to stretch or rest. I danced slowly feeling into the movement of each muscle and nerve in my body.   

I started working with horses in this more connected way, learning how my body movement and breath in turn affected theirs and when I was in tune with myself, they too would be calm and in tune with me. I began to find peace around my health and a kind of acceptance for all its disruptions. 

In 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As for many with a cancer diagnosis, my first thoughts were whether I was going to die and leave my then two year-old daughter without a mum.  I turned to all the skills I had learned over the years.  I allowed my body to feel the emotions, which do arise as some kind of motion within, sometimes swelling up into overspill, other times sitting, unmoving and dark. I was able to be with it wherever it was swishing about, noticing, allowing and accepting.  Sometimes frustration would move into anger, I even screamed at times and in fact found allowing the flow and force of these visceral movements very therapeutic! 

Having been given the all clear, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer again in January 2023. I was and still am devastated, but determined to do everything I can to be here for as long as possible.  

As ever, there are many lows through treatment, but equally there are the highs of love and friendship that hold me tight and keep me motivated. I have turned to the horses again, I recently cantered along the golden sands on the Isle of Lewis – there is freedom in such movement!   

I turn to nature all the time, especially when I can’t move much myself.  I like nothing more than to be still, watching the movement of the leaves swaying in the breeze, the brook flowing freely, the clouds passing by as my daughter and I watch for different shapes. I notice the movement of a spider making her web, the flowers opening and closing, it all brings me a kind of peace.  

And then there is the drum!  How I love the drum! You can play it softly, you can play it loudly and fiercely, you can sit in gentle meditation with it or throw yourself around in a crazed manner banging it louder and louder – if the breath allows!   

Then there’s the most important movement of all, that which I can do with my daughter.  Sometimes that’s a snuggle in bed, sometimes it’s dancing as fairies at a fairy festival and hula hooping!  

Movement can be anything; emotions, our physical being, our outside environment and our spiritual connection to nature and life. 

  

 

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