Well, we’ve almost made it to the end of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’ve yet to write anything about my struggles, my journey or my on-going dance with cancer. Perhaps today it’s time to update from a survivor who was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve of 2001.
I’ve spoken to many people, sharing my story when I thought it would help and connecting with them when I knew they needed someone to simply understand the devastation that we feel when life turns upside down. I’ve been a Reach to Recovery Volunteer, helping those who want to find a new normal and who are looking for a way out of the labyrinth of grief which many times surrounds us when we are hit with a cancer diagnosis. For everything changes in our lives when cancer hits. Life, relationships and health all change and we suffer until we can find our equilibrium. We grieve, we mourn and we endure what we previously thought unthinkable. We can stagnate in that pool of darkness or we can reach out for the light. As a survivor for so many years, I try to be an inspiration and to shine my heartlight so that others can find theirs and begin to move on in their lives. I know it’s not easy, for I have been there, done that and still struggle with the aftermath of cancer. It seems I am never fully out of its grasp as it rears its ugly head in my life from time to time as a pointed jab and a reminder that life is a gift and everyday we must be grateful for this moment in time.
With breast cancer in particular, we suffer the indignities of losing our outward signs of femininity (breasts, hair (chemo)) and many times our ovaries which help keep our feminine hormones going. Sometimes we can even lose touch with ourselves as we struggle to come to grips with a body which many times in clothing looks good, but in our birthday suits, is riddled with train track-like scars and missing pieces. It takes a strong woman to get up every morning and to continue to strive to be the best person she can be when her heart is breaking. I admire those women who can be vulnerable and yet be strong, who can laugh, but still cry, who can feel even when her body is numbed by surgery or can remain peaceful while hearing careless comments from those who say they love them.
We all have a story to tell when it comes to surviving breast cancer. Each of our personal stories is a bit different, but the fundamental grief and subsequent healing of body, mind and soul are similar. Today’s post I dedicate to those friends and family who have gone before me, those who are presently enduring breast cancer and to those, like me, who are still here, somewhere in purgatory, never quite released from its icy grip, but still hopeful that it never quite fully returns.