Friday, January 22, 2016

Breast Cancer Warning Dreams: Interview with Sunni Ingalls

 
This is part three of my ongoing breast cancer warning dreams interview series. These interviews cover my co-participants in a study of breast cancer warning dreams published in the May/June 2015 issue of  Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing.

Today I interview Sunni Ingalls, a computer systems analyst from Rochester, New York. In 2014 Sunni's story was shared in the Huffington Post article - I Believe A Dream Saved My Life: A Tale of Breast Cancer Detection.

M&E

Can you tell us about your life as it is now?

Sunni Ingalls

I am married with two boys. I live in Webster, NY (but I hope to move somewhere warmer someday soon) :). I have a small family in the area but we are very close. I work as a System Analyst for East Irondequoit Central School District. I went part-time after I finished treatment. However, I am also a certified yoga instructor and teach 1-4 classes a week. On a personal level note, practicing yoga changed my life and has really helped me to hone my intuition.
M&E

Can you set the stage of your life at the time of this dream that suggested you had breast cancer? Were dreams about health issues common for you or did this come out of left field?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
There is a family history of breast cancer but the women in my family were diagnosed in their 50's and 60's so being in my early 40's, I honestly had no concerns about my breast health (at least not yet). Additionally, I thought I led a relatively healthy life. I was a good weight, I ran for exercise and I didn't eat a ton of "bad" food (however, I later realized I ate much more bad food then I thought). BUT my stress levels were HIGH! I had two teenage boys at home, I was running from one event to another and dealing with some “teenage” behavior. I had a failed business a few years earlier and I really felt my job was too demanding. I was NOT a priority in my own life but I don’t know that I really recognized it at the time.
 
M&E
 
Your story is similar to mine: family history of breast cancer, healthy eating, and poor stress management. Though I did have family history of breast cancer I do not have the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 genes. In fact, I have no genes known to be associated with cancer of any kind. Despite the familial breast cancer history, I assumed my general health nuttery would dodge that bullet from me, at least at a young age. It did not. I was stressed because of my child's chronic illnesses and didn't manage that so well. I now accept that comprehensive self care is everything. Not just in one area of life, but across the board: mind, body, and spirit. I meditate every day now and I'm pretty inflexible about that. Like your yoga, it has changed my life.
 
How did the dream unfold? Did it move you to seek screening right away or did you wait?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
The dream began on a beautiful Fall day. I could feel my heart pounding and the sound of my shallow but rhythmic breathing buzzing in my ears. My entire body vibrated each time my foot struck the ground. This was the day! I was in the zone! For the first time ever in my running career, I was at the front of the pack and nothing was going to stop me! The wind was at my back and the strength I felt was undeniable. I was certain it was the day I would set a PR!
 
Running along I am suddenly yanked from my thoughts by the sound of a car that I can see is riding alongside the race. I try to put on my blinders and just concentrate on my run but I am positive I can hear someone calling my name. Finally, I give up and lookover. I have to do a double take because I realize it is my husband driving and waving me over like a mad man!
 
He is pleading with me to get into the car but I tell him he is crazy...that today is the day I am going to set a PR and there is NO way I am leaving! We bicker for a bit and then with a promise that he will be able to return me to the same place in the race (for some reason this makes sense to me at the time), I relinquish and get in the car with him.
 
We arrive home. I walk into our home and immediately observe my reflection in the mirror. I look exhausted and my left gland is severely swollen. I soon became aware of my mother’s presence; she is standing to the right of me and I can see the worried look on her face. I assure her I will be fine and then suddenly…. the dream is over.
 
I called my mom immediately and shared the dream. I explained to her that I KNEW something was going to happen that would "take me out of the race of life" but that I was certain "I would get right back in where I left off."
 
I knew my mother's reflection in the mirror was because whatever was going on...my mother had also experienced (I was a reflection of her). Because my neck was swollen and my mother had thyroid issues I initially thought it might be that. However, my mother had also had breast cancer! Within a week or two I was diagnosed with grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma of the LEFT breast. Coincidences? I think not.
 
M&E
 
What was the outcome of your screening?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
After the mammogram and subsequent ultrasound, the Dr. diagnosed me with breast cancer. Although they took a biopsy to confirm and called with results the next day  (invasive ductal carcinoma – grade 2 – so relatively fast growing).
 
M&E
 
Did you tell your physicians or their staffs about the dream? If so, how did they respond?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
Down the road,  I shared with one of my oncologists and my Dr. at the breast clinic. Both are open minded and encouraged me to continue to listen to my intuition and pay attention to my dreams.
 
M&E
 
I told everyone and anyone at that hospital who would listen, because I was still reeling from the fact that such a thing could happen: that I could dream I had breast cancer and be diagnosed with it during a routine screening within weeks. Responses were mixed. I left out, though, the part about later having met at a support group the very woman, a stranger, who diagnosed me in the dream......
 
Do you believe your dream and subsequent actions you took as a result saved your life? If so, how?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
Saved my life? Quite possibly. At very least, I definitely believe my dream prevented me from having a later stage cancer. I am certain I either wouldn’t have noticed the dimple or just ignored it...it was very subtle.
 
M&E
 
How did you come to be included in Dr. Burk's study? As someone who has done grassroots organizing for twenty years I am fascinated by how he found all these breast cancer warning dreamers without help from the major breast cancer organizations. He seems to be a natural at bringing people together.
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
One day during my treatment, my mom sent me a link to a dream website and she encouraged me to post my dream. She thought it’d be therapeutic and a great idea to get feedback on what others thought. It was the only time I had shared a dream on a website. I really don’t normally do “stuff” like that. Dr. Burk contacted me from there.
 
M&E
 
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience?
 
Sunni Ingalls
 
I just think listening to your intuition is so important. Don’t dismiss dreams or feelings that are strong or “stick with you”. That’s how I describe my “prophetic/message” dreams. Take time and just sit with the thought or dream, don’t attach to it but ask yourself some questions, like if you should act on it, follow up with a dr., etc. and then honor yourself by following though with what you come up with.
 
M&E
 
I totally agree. I was the one who had the dreams about potential relapses, so I'm always paying attention. Sometimes, most of the time for me, a dream is just a dream though - so learning to decipher the precognitive from dreams that are just processing fear has been a challenge. Still, it is work worth doing.
 
Thank you for this interview.
 
Sunni Ingalls in the media:
 
 
 
 
Breast Cancer Warning Dreams Series
 
 
  

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