“I stepped out of society’s image of the femininity factor and created my own; a truer, deeper awareness of who I am.”
Everyone’s walk with cancer is unique. There may be similarities in diagnosis, treatments, and outcomes, but each journey is profoundly different. By sharing stories, insights, and perspectives, those of us who have experienced cancer become mirrors and models for those on their journey. My hope is to offer ideas that may lessen fears, comfort hearts, and expand possibilities.
With my first diagnosis in December 2010, I knew my journey with cancer was an opportunity to learn to love myself more fully so I could share my music and love with the others more completely.
For the next nine months, I grew in ways only a journey with cancer could facilitate. Continuous choices with immediate and long-term consequences became a daily routine. I could no longer hide. It was time to walk my talk and awaken to myself.
“Breast cancer? I thought breastfeeding reduced my risk?” were my immediate thoughts. I was a mother who breastfed until my child was old enough to say, “This one’s empty,” and we’d switch sides. I loved nurturing our children; I loved nurturing everyone. Now it was time to nurture myself.
Reflecting back, I chuckle at my ‘breast connections’:
Puberty – “Here they are!!”
High School – “How do they look?”
Beauty Pageants – “More tape!” (Yes, we would bend over and duct tape under our breasts for that unnatural/natural endowment look)
Marriage – let’s just say my husband is a fan.
Pregnancy – “Will this swelling ever go down?”
Breastfeeding – “Will he ever latch-on?” followed by, “Will he ever stop?”
Cancer Diagnosis – “What? You must be joking!”
Part of my journal includes: “As we waited for my genetic test results, the choices were on the table: mastectomy, double mastectomy, lumpectomy, hysterectomy. Wow, I never imagined I could actually choose any of them! After all, my breasts are directly connected to my femininity, my ability to nurture, my beauty as a woman, or so I thought. Such a story I had created around my breasts, such judgments I carried, and in less than 15 minutes – poof – all the stories and judgments were gone, because they were simply that – stories and judgments. This experience shed light on many of the judgments I held about myself and others. My heart opened in ways I could never have imagined.”
I ended up having a lumpectomy, removal of 11 lymph nodes, insertion of a port, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments.
In December 2012, my second diagnosis came – the same type of cancer in the same breast. I felt something very different during this journey because I was different. I had grown over the past two years.
I had learned to love myself, which transformed old beliefs about:
needing to nurture everyone else first,
needing my hair to feel beautiful,
needing to do everything myself,
needing to control my environment to feel safe,
and needing approval from others
I stepped out of society’s image of the femininity factor and created my own; a truer, deeper awareness of who I am.
A couple weeks prior to my diagnosis, I felt inspired to contact a friend who is a gifted energy worker. Our session began slowly as my body relaxed and my mind quieted any expectations or desired outcomes.
I was surprised as old images of my feminine/mother energy began floating into my awareness, as if I was watching a slide show of my life: the birth of our first son; a sense of separation from myself; the deep emotional loss of a miscarriage; the birth of our second son; and an even deeper inner processing of my own birth and adoption.
Individual energetic moments of my past surfaced like disconnected quilt pieces hovering above my abdomen. As we continued, those fragments began to gently transform. Near the end of the session, she moved her hands slowly from my feet to my head. I could sense within me a smooth, clean darkness; no charge, no stories, no emotional connection to the past. I now understood what my husband, a gifted spiritual soul, had been saying for years about “wiping the mirror clean.” The “mirror” was my mind’s connection to the vibrational and energetic stories of my past, still inside my body, unconsciously motivating my current choices. Those pieces had been lovingly brought to my conscious awareness, transformed, and gently wiped clean.
Unknowingly, I was preparing my body, mind, and spirit for the forthcoming diagnosis, choice of a right mastectomy (no reconstruction), and total hysterectomy.
Do I create less without a womb? No.
Do I love less without a breast? No.
The essence of who I am is not a body part, a story, an experience, or a belief.
The essence of who I am is Love.
The essence of who you are is Love.
The phrase, “You have to love yourself before you can truly love others” is no longer simply a saying for me; it has now become a way of being – a powerful way of Being.
My experiences with cancer have been profound and sacred journeys of inner awakening. The first journey awakened me to my highest self, the I AM essence and power within my soul. The second journey awakened a deeper awareness of my unconscious patterns of thought, belief, and behavior. I now stand joined with my love and purpose, experiencing the joy and freedom to create and share my love completely.