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It’s Just The Circle Of Life

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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

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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

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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

Cancer Connections

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You gain strength, courage, and confidence

by every experience in which you really stop

to look fear in the face.

You are able to say to yourself,

“I lived through this horror.

I can take the next thing that comes along.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sitting in the oncologist office waiting room, I had some time to look around at all the other people there waiting patiently for their names to be called.  I’ve done this before and I seem to do it every time I’m there.  I smile at the others in the room, because I figure if you are here, then we’ve got a connection.  Because let’s face it, there are plenty of other places to sit in this big ole world and I bet you wouldn’t choose the oncology waiting room to hang out in if you didn’t need to be there.  Or if your loved one didn’t need to be there.

Cancer evens us out.  Strange to say, right?  But I find that those of us who have endured cancer find it easier to simply connect with someone else who has been in the same boat.  It’s that common ground that we search for when we connect with someone else.  By simply being in the same doctor’s office, we can pretty much bet we’ve got or had the Big C and we’re hoping to get better and stay healthy.

Cancer isn’t choosy.  It doesn’t discriminate between races or genders.  Old or young, it matters not.  It comes in changing the lives of its patients and those who surround them.  Cancer bonds people.  Cancer breaks people down.  Cancer divides. Cancer unifies.  Cancer conquers some people and yet, there are others who conquer cancer.  It’s an equal-opportunity disease for which there’s no cure, yet.

Cancer connects people in ways that they might not necessarily connect.  The fear of death and the horror of cancer treatments, etc.  give you a bird’s eye view of what you are truly made of and there’s no place for sissy’s with cancer.  No matter with whom you talk, we’ve all had sleepless nights filled with worry and repeatedly question at every tumor marker test, if cancer has returned.  Many of us have endured surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, blood tests, needles, being poked and prodded by countless professionals and staff.  We’ve lost our hair, body parts and our dignity.  But I’ve learned that we don’t lose our loving hearts, nor our need for comfort or our precious souls to cancer.   It’s given me a new outlook on life.  Sure cancer has weakened parts of my life, but it also strengthened me.  It’s given me lessons on human nature that I would have never understood had I not endured the cancer.  It’s made me appreciate the little things and be unafraid of dying.  It’s changed my life in good and bad ways, but I try to concentrate on the good in my life at every turn.

What has cancer done in your life?

Shine On!

xo

Here’s One Answer to “Why Me?”

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“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. “
Chinese Proverb

Let’s be clear, I’m not looking for perfection.  Not for myself nor for anyone else in the vicinity.  You can choose to look for whatever you wish.  I will tell you though, that I think you are perfect, just the way you are ~ the way you really are ~ that soulful you.  The one deep inside beneath all the rubble of your outside persona.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  The inner being who inhabits the human body called YOU.

That being is perfect.  That person is love.  That soul is perfect.

And when it comes to asking that all-important question, “why me?” I think the above Chinese proverb is a good start.  Nobody likes troubles, illness, death, financial problems, feeling unloved, tragedy, violence etc in our lives.  We’d prefer a quiet, loving atmosphere in which to grow and to enjoy the time we have here on Earth.  But ‘life happens’ and we are many times thrust into situations of which we have little or no control over and we must dog paddle our way to the safe shore.  It’s not fun.  It’s not easy.  Trials and tribulations aren’t usually fun.  Little pings of anxiety after them aren’t either.  They are simply nudges I think to get our lives back on track if we’ve fallen away from our purpose.

But after the incident/illness, when we look back, we can see how the trials shaped us, refined us and polished our lives.  If you have endured life changing moments, you may understand what I am trying to say even though today I feel as if I am floundering in how I am writing to you.  I am not saying, for the record, that I am happy that I had breast cancer.  Oh no.   I would have been happy with a peace-filled, illness-free life.  But am I grateful for the trial so that I learned how truly strong I am, how I can reach out to help inspire others and how being loved and loving others means the most in life?  Well, then, yes. yes, and yes.

Breast cancer changed my life permanently in all different ways.  My physical body, my physical abilities, my mental state, my brain’s capacity and even my spiritual awareness all are irrevocably changed.  I have a chronic illness that I cannot overcome.  I have memory problems.  I have limited abilities in areas where BC (before cancer) I was limitless.  There is time that I can never get back.  There are many losses and few gains.  There is a learning curve which I never expected.  There are answers that I never even knew I could seek and find.  There are questions that will remain unanswerable and I must find peace within in order to move on.

Sometimes it boils down to the simple…I am here and gratefully present.

Shine On!

xo