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Find The Sunshine

sunshine

Breast cancer Awareness month is ending and I want to end it on a positive note for those who have endured the disease, for the family members who have witnessed their loved ones’ trials and tribulations and for those who have passed away.

Breast cancer took away much from my life mentally, physically and emotionally.  But the experience gave me even more than I ever expected possible.  I’m not making light of the hellish experiences those of us with the disease have endured or the worry and caretaking that our families gave to us during those hard times.

For me, it showed me so much insight that I would not be the woman I am today if I hadn’t endured the disease.  Even though I wish I could have never endured what I did or the fall out that changed my life forever and changed my relationships eventually, I stand firm in not regretting the experience.

I cannot blame my breast cancer for my divorce, but I can say that it put undue strain on our marriage.  How could it not?  But I will forever be grateful to my ex-husband for the love and support he gave to me during those hard times.  Part of the reason I am here was because he believed in me and that was a precious gift for which I am ever grateful.

Breast cancer opened doors for me into learning.  It gave me the platform which has blossomed into The Presents of Presence for in the beginning I felt driven to help other women to find the grace in the experience.  My spirituality soared afterwards and continues to grow with each passing day.

There is always a new dawn and with that sunshine comes possibility, hope and renewal.  Putting the past behind us, we can face the new day with glory, gratitude and happiness.  I know that some days it feels impossible to be upbeat because with breast cancer there are surgeries, recovery, chemotherapy, radiation and a plethora of other painful reminders of the reality of enduring the disease.  But what keeps me going is the knowledge that every day is another chance to live life to the best of my ability, to shine my heartlight and to connect with all who cross my path.

Shine On!

xo

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Enduring Breast Cancer Survivor

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This may be a controversial post, I’m just warning you.  Maybe not, depending on how you view what I feel.  I’m a breast cancer survivor although I abhor the badge survivor.  Yes, I survived breast cancer and have for almost 16 years, but I am not one of those who go to the Pinktober or Breast Cancer Walks with pink frilly enthusiasm.  It’s just not me.

I think it’s nice that people unite for those walks to raise money for research, but in the sixteen years since I was diagnosed, there have been a few strides, but not many.  So where’s the funding going?

There are thousands of items bedazzled with the pink ribbon during Breast Cancer Awareness month that are for sale.  While I appreciate it, I also feel the superficiality of it.  For enduring breast cancer isn’t all pink ribbons.

It’s grueling surgeries, treatments and fear-induced sleepless nights.  Like all life threatening situations, it requires bravery to face our inevitable death, with the threat of it coming too soon.  I was 34 years old when I was diagnosed out of the blue, having found an M&M sized lump in my breast.  Complete shock overtook me on that New Year’s Eve in 2001 when the diagnosis was delivered.

Fast forward to 2017 after having endured countless surgeries, chemotherapy (ACT) and radiation, not to mention a double mastectomy, two implant replacements and then a radical replacement of my breasts with my own fat tissue instead of implants because my body kept rejecting them, I’ve been through the ringer like many people have in my situation.  I’ve lost my hair, been in menopause since 2003 and aged faster than my friends because of the illness.  I have lingering effects from the cancer which include chronic fatigue which I battle daily.  The funny thing about the chronic fatigue is that most people just don’t understand what I experience because I look normal (or as normal as possible).  But that’s a whole different post.

However, the word survivor when applied to my breast cancer experience sticks in my craw.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I merit the word survivor.  Victims of the Holocaust merit the word survivor, people who survived horrendous experiences merit the word survivor in my book.  But for me, no.

Me, I endured breast cancer.  While its aftereffects still play a role in my daily life, I am gratefully still here.  Sure, I have had more threats to my health than I can count anymore.  I am tested routinely due to other complications and I have endured countless uncomfortable tests and more sleepless nights than I want to remember.

The term survivor to me is having lived through something awful and to be able to go on afterwards.  Maybe that’s how some people feel about their diagnosis in the breast cancer world.  For me, it’s not a been there, done that, wear the pink sparkly t-shirt and smile.  It’s still enduring the illness in whatever shape and form it reemerges.

The Presents of Presence emerged from my journey with breast cancer.  In being present with my feelings, acknowledging the gifts in this moment and in taking the time to be mindful, spiritual and experiencing all that presence allows, is how I live my life now.  I am still a work in progress.  I thank you for reading my post today, for holding my hand when needed, for your kindness and connections and for showing your heartlight as a beacon of hope for others.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

It’s Just The Circle Of Life

itsjustthecircleoflife

I don’t mean any disrespect when I write – It’s just the circle of life.  It’s more of a factual statement than one which diminishes the emotion of birth to death.  As humans, we have experienced our own birth and someday we will experience our own death.  We may even experience by proxy, the death of friends, family and loved ones.  As women, we may even experience the gift of giving birth.

As a breast cancer survivor, I have experienced the thought of death as well.  Perhaps it’s not just those of us with illnesses that know the darkness that shrouds the fear at death’s door.  But it becomes a rite of passage when we are diagnosed with a disease which is a known killer.  It’s how we deal with that threat that the disease can take our lives which varies, person to person.

There’s no right way to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis and each of us who have heard those words, ‘you have cancer’ can attest to the fact that our lives completely change in a moment.  Forevermore we live with the threat that it won’t be cured or that it will return with a vengeance.  We fear the cancer, the treatment and the cloud that perpetually hangs back, in our peripheral view for the rest of our lives.  We mourn the loss of good health that we once had.  We crumble in the dark late at night fearing the worst, yet hoping for the best, making promises to the Universe or to God with pleas for strength, for one more day, for a cure, for peace.

We endure pain in order to be cured, yet the psyche many times does not ever find peace again to heal our spiritual self.  I have seen people who have become broken shells of their former selves after a diagnosis, never to fully regain the momentum of life afterwards for the fear of the cancer returning never leaves us.  Even if we put it in the back of our minds or try to totally erase it from our view, its specter awaits, lurking for the next lump’s arrival, the next battery of tests that are not within normal range, the next procedure to investigate some abnormality in the body.  It doesn’t really ever end.

I am coming up on 16 years since I was diagnosed and I can attest that it never ends.  Sure, we can go on merrily with our lives, hoping our happy-go-lucky charade continues to not provoke questions from others as to our health status.  We can cry at night when things aren’t good, but nobody understands this unless you have endured it.  We can be strong when needed and mask our fears to the masses.  After awhile, we even believe ourselves until something happens to knock us off-kilter and wham, we are back again in the throes of fear and wondering if the circle of life is at its end.

I understand dear friends.  I truly do.  Even the word remission is not a peaceful feeling as it only masks the tingling sensation of peace for the moment and the trembling fear of if/when the other shoe will drop again.

I don’t know why I am writing this post today.  It seems to be flowing out of me at a supersonic speed.  My fingers type so quickly and yet I am not sure if I am even making sense.  I’ve had many scares over the years.  Tumor markers which are higher than normal, lumps that have to be biopsied, scary tests to endure all while knowing that could be in store.  Crying in the night or during the day when nobody’s home.  Feeling the whoosh of relief when the doctor proclaims it’s ok for now.  Reliving the nightmares of past experiences knowing I’m on my own.  It’s hard, but we can live through the experience and keep going.  That’s the common denominator really.  Keep waking up to a new day.  Nightfall is hardest I know – that dead of night overwhelming feeling which is only diminished by sleep.  And the realization as dawn comes that we must face the reality in our situation.  I’m here for you.  I have been there and I feel blessed that I am still here to walk with you when you need a friend.

The circle of life begins and ends in a momentous way – birth and death – bringing the light of our souls into the world and then allowing the extinguishing of our soul light to be free.

Shine On!

xo

P.S.  I’m fine, so no worries.  I don’t know why this post wrote itself today, but it did. xo

 

via Daily Prompt: Circle

Pink Poetry

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I am the pink rose, scorned, tired.

I bloomed in youth

Perfumed the air with my fire

burst in proud glory

s  p  a  r  k  l  i  n  g

shining my soul unabashedly.

But the sun scorched my soul

clouds refused me rain.

w i t h e r i n g

I remain pink, soft, fragrant

in my soul where I reside.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

Cancer Changed Me

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Hope ~ Strength ~ Power ~ Belief ~ Courage ~ Honor ~ Determination

I have been told that cancer changed me.  Indeed, it wasn’t said it in the nicest of ways.  In fact, it was taken as a disparaging comment and I was appalled by the off-hand comment.  My first reaction was to defend myself at the time, to show how cancer didn’t change me.  But I left well-enough alone and decided to say nothing.  However, I was hurt by the retort.

Had cancer really changed me?

The question mulled in my head for days and many sleepless nights, more than I’d like to admit, but it’s true.  I’ve written how cancer changes you enough times in this blog to know that the reality is – YES, cancer changes most of us.  It has to, or we wouldn’t still be here.  For we have seen into the yawning mouth of our own demise, endured the most feared emotions and have come out of it alive, so far.  Looking at your own potential death does change you.

It makes you more aware for the most part.  Some of us now see with finite definition that life is short and there are no guarantees how much time we have on this earth.  We become grateful for the beauty in nature, for the simple pleasures that kindness brings and for a real, loving hug which can cure many ills.  We look to connect with others more because we know what it’s like to feel alone.  We share our stories, encourage each other and find the courage to be who we authentically are!  We smile when we are tired.  We work hard to overcome obstacles and to be there for others, even when we feel depleted.  We take that extra moment to smile and to enjoy goodness when it comes into our lives.  We are grateful for the support that we have been given and we look to support others to continue the flow of goodness.  We share tips to help others and happily receive tips to make our lives easier.

We know that all the money in the world, with all the frivolities are fleeting and really don’t mean a damn when death comes knocking at our door.  It’s that silence between ourselves and our maker (or our beliefs) in the quiet of the night that counts.  It’s regarding peace within as a precious gift, time spent with loved ones and a centered calm in which to retreat when life becomes hard.  It’s the voice within the stillness which speaks of love, gratitude, peace with ourselves and others and God.

Yes, cancer changed me.  That’s for sure.  Perhaps it was the misunderstanding of me that caused this person to spout the ‘dig’ as I took it.  Sometimes it takes a loss for us to be humble and perhaps there will be people who simply never understand.  And that’s ok with me.

I am me, authentically me.  I make mistakes, I ask for forgiveness and I forgive.  I choose to live in a state of peace within when I can, but I am always evolving, ever growing and yet, trying to do all things with love.  I intend to do my best, at any given moment, but I’m human.  I’m a work in progress.  Aren’t we all?

What’s precious to me in my life is love, kindness and connections and I strive every day to live with those three precious gems in my life.  Cancer made me a better person by giving me so many lessons in my life.  I’ve learned so much from cancer, even though I never wanted to endure that disease.  Looking back on my life, I realize that I am who I am today because of cancer.  Even if others don’t understand me, it’s ok now.  I’m at peace and I’m ever grateful for the peace within me.

Shine On!

xo

It’s Been 15 Years and I’m Still Here!

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Fifteen years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  At times, it seems as if it were yesterday.  At others, it seems a lifetime ago.  But as any cancer survivor knows, we never forget the diagnosis which begins this journey.

So today, I celebrate with gratitude the triumph of still being here to enjoy my life with my children.  Even though I celebrate this milestone alone today, I have many angels in my life to whom I look with loving gratitude for all that they have done for me throughout the years.  I hold dearly those memories of loving support and kindness which were gifted to me.  Indeed, sometimes it takes a village.

My life has changed by leaps and bounds since that fateful day.  I’ve overcome 10 + surgeries, chemotherapy, baldness, radiation and countless scares that the cancer had returned.  I’ve loved and lost and let go.  But what remains is my faith, my courage and my choice to stay here and fight for my life.

I’ve learned so many lessons by enduring cancer, ones that perhaps I wish I’d never learned, but yet I am grateful all the same.

So on this New Year’s Eve Day, please celebrate with me as I celebrate with you.  Cheers with gratitude to the lessons learned in the past 15 years and cheers to another year filled with light, love, health, prosperity and happiness for all!

Shine On!

xo

Recipe for Enduring Breast Cancer

76605095_Hope Strength Power Belief Courage Honor Determination

In order to survive Breast Cancer (and any other illness, tragedy, trauma) it’s necessary to collect all of your essential ingredients in order to endure the situation at hand.  A great dose of support is also needed as back up when your ingredients run low and you need a refill.  A quick jog to the store won’t suffice.  You need a team, a village, to count on and that’s where the internet, blogs, websites and support groups can wield a mighty sword to help you combat your ills.

A hefty dose of the above helps:

Hope

Strength

Power

Belief

Courage

Honor

Determination

In addition to a heavy handed sprinkling of

Humor, Love, Presence and Support.

Which is all fine and good as words, but how do you go about stockpiling these main ingredients when you’ve just been blindsided by your diagnosis and news?  I wish I could say it is easy, but it’s not.  That’s where your determination comes in.  You have to set your own mind to believing that you have the courage, the strength, the hope, and the inner power to endure.

You have all of this inside ~ you simply have to tap into it.  You must do the work.  There’s no way around it.  It is your mind that needs to have its power harnessed to heal your life.  Humor, love, presence and support may come from the outside from which you can receive the stores from others.  But you my friend, must believe that you are ready and worthy to battle and must prepare your mind, heart and soul to overcome the obstacles that are placed before you.

So how do you do this?  You harness your mind by feeding it positive thinking.  You eradicate negativity from your life, like removing rose petals from a rose, you gently pluck the negative thoughts from your heart and in place, you add the essence of the rose ~ the inner beauty and strength that comes from a rose simply being a rose.

Is this making any sense to you?  Do you need concrete examples?  Are you thinking I’m too pie in the sky for you?  Too Pollyanna and yippy skippy?  Not down to Earth enough?

Watch for it.  In the meantime, you need to get yourself ready.  Enjoy this day.  Get outside and look up to the sky.  Breathe.  Take 3 minutes to just listen to the wind, feel the earth under your feet and reconnect with nature.  Find a bit of inner and outer peace in being present.  You don’t have to do it for long.   Just feel the peace.

I’m holding  your hand.  You’ve got a friend in me.  Take your time.  Allow the grief and the healing to come to you and welcome it with your arms open wide.  You can do this!

Shine On!

xo