Tag Archive | Breast Cancer Survivor

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

15years

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

Pinktober

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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.

Shine On!

xo

We Are More Than Our Scars

scars

“I am more than my scars.”
― Andrew Davidson

Having traveled this breast cancer journey for 14 years, I have learned a lot about myself and others.  I love the quote above for in it I find fortitude even in my darkest hours.  My scars bear witness to the horrors I’ve endured.  My body, mind and soul, along with my heart, have been ravaged and yet I still am here, cancer free.  True, my physical appearance has changed.  Some may not find me attractive and that’s ok for me.  For I feel as if the light that has brought me through the toughest of times, still burns brightly inside my heart.  Though I have aged, my heart is filled with light, hope, positivity and love for which I am truly grateful.  My soul shines, my challenges have changed me, making me stronger, more self-assured and not so frightened anymore.

I allow others to be whom they choose without resentment nor anger.  It does not serve me.  I still speak my truth with kindness.  I am finding the me that was lost on this journey.  Growing confidence with every step of independence and connecting with others as we walk each other home towards our end.  Scars may damage us.  However, when you change the way you see them, you remember that they simply show how strong we are to have braved atrocities to our physical bodies.  Wear them proudly, a badge of honor that you have been able to dig deep inside to grow, to learn, to be tested and to surpass the expectations of ourselves and others.

It is not easy to become accepting of our scars, whether others can see them or not.  In such a physical world where first we are judged by our looks, it is often disappointing to not be seen for whom our souls are and be found worthy.  To be seen, but not heard is a challenge that we must overcome.  And it starts with you.

Compassion for ourselves is the first step.  To love ourselves, scars and all.  To treat ourselves with loving kindness and to embrace self-love so that others may see our loving selves.  To look at others with the same loving eyes is the next step.  To see the good in every single person.  To forgive ourselves and others for what has trespassed and to empathize with our good hearts and find the goodness in each soul with whom we come into contact.  To forgive what we deem unforgivable and to move onwards and upwards towards the light in life.

Some scars do not show on the physical body.  We hide them in our hearts, minds and souls.  Past hurts and regressions can tear at our core selves, shredding even the strongest souls, breaking hearts, belief systems and our self-esteem.  Rebuilding, baby step by baby step, requires the heart, mind and soul to open with trembling vulnerability to find a new normal.  We need to embrace the changes that scarred us and empty our beings of regret.  Stand in our power and release what no longer serves us.  To take the scars which broke us and heal ourselves and others.  To love even those who scarred us.  To observe their scars and see within their hearts that they are broken as well.  To embrace a compassionate life and shine our little heartlights filled with love.

So as you go about your day today, smile.  Be the loving energy that I know you are and embrace your loving heartlight so that you shine from within, thus brightening your world and connecting your light to others.  You never know how a simple smile, a kind word and a loving embrace can change you and others.

Embrace your scars, love yourself and let love be your guide as you go about your day.

Shine On!

xo

Do You Fear Death?

death

Do You Fear Death?

This is probably a loaded question for a Monday morning, but on the heels of Easter, I thought I’d ask.  For you see, I’ve been thinking a lot about death these days since I’ve been taking care of a few family members who are older and plagued with dementia and I have recently had another one pass away.

Honestly, I do not fear death.  But, let me explain myself.  More than 20 years ago, I had a dream that I died.  As the old saying goes, ‘if you dream that you died, you will die’, but let me allay your fears as I am still here.  However, the dream is still as vivid as it was the morning I awoke from it, even after 15 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation etc.  The peace I felt in the place I believe was Heaven stays within my heart, soul and mind.

The beauty that surrounded me was astounding in my dream.  I was in Heaven, with fields of colorful tulips as far as my eye could see, standing on the puffiest, softest white clouds imaginable.  In my dream, I knew I had passed away and had arrived in Heaven.  It was ethereal as you can imagine.  There was not a cloud in the sky, but a beautiful bright light emanated everywhere, surrounding me with such an incredible loving embrace and a true sense of peace.  I felt love deep within my soul like I have never felt before nor since in my life.  A innate sense of serenity and tranquility filled my being like never before and I remember smiling in wonder at the feeling.  I was standing still, taking in the entire scene and the beauty filled my soul.  I saw no one.  I just felt innately that I was where I belonged.  There was no regret in being there.  I felt no loss for having left Earth nor my family.  I simply felt that I was where I was supposed to be at that moment.  It was special.  It was life-altering.  The experience gave me such an utter peace in my soul that I continue to carry to this day and I feel blessed, honored and grateful to have experienced what I believe was a heavenly dream.

Why did I dream this?  I have no earthly idea as to the reason.  There was nothing wrong with me or any of my family so I don’t believe that it was a processing of a fear-based emotion.  Many years down the road, I was fighting for my life against breast cancer, but I’ve since healed and even though I’m never quite out of the woods per se, I am still here, cancer free for which I am grateful.

I would love to know how you feel about death.  Do you fear death?  Have you ever had a dream that you passed away?  Have you ever experienced anything similar?  Please share your stories and connect with me.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

You Are Simply the Best!

best

“The more you praise and celebrate your life,

the more there is in life to celebrate.”

– Oprah Winfrey

This is my birthday week celebration and I want to share it with you ~ let’s celebrate, for we have today ~ let’s embrace The Presents of Presence as we feel gratitude for this day, for this moment in time that we share together.  Come join me in celebrating our lives, our connections and our friendships!  Let’s be grateful that we can enjoy this moment together!

I am grateful for so much in my life, even the hardships that I have endured.  I am grateful for the happy and sad moments for they have taught me well.  I am grateful for the strength that I have found within and the supportive friends and family who have helped me through many trying times.  I am grateful to God for every breath that I continue to have and for the blessed life that I have lived thus far and I pray that I have many more years of life given to me.  I am grateful for the willingness of myself and others to reach out daily through blogging, texting, phone calls, cards and emails etc. in order to support, love and connect with each other in order to increase the love in this world through kindness.  I am grateful for every prayer.  I am grateful for the angels who surround me and for meeting human angels along my path of life.  I am grateful for my feline friends as well who give unconditional loving fur therapy when most needed (and even when not needed).  There’s something about being loved by an animal which is precious as well.  I am grateful for my mind, soul, heart and body which have endured breast cancer etc. and continue to thrive daily, even under unspeakable circumstances.  I am grateful to Mother Nature for daily delivering such a beautiful dawn which inspires me, even when I feel under the weather.  I am grateful as I count all of the blessings, big and small, in my life.

So today, please celebrate with me ~ celebrate your life, yourself and your connections with others both big and small.  Celebrate your life well-lived and your present moment.  Choose to feel the tranquility of gratitude, the quiet reminder that you are here~ perfect, whole and complete and you are appreciated for who you are.

For I am grateful to all of you!

Shine On!

xo

 

Caturday Ritual

Tiffykins

I don’t know who coined the phrase Caturday, but I like it!  It makes me think of my dear little girl with whom I share a special morning ritual.  Every morning, I am given the gift of presence by the American Bobtail above who insists on it.  How you may ask?  After I get my coffee and she her wet food, we relax in a few moments of silence, each taking in the morning’s peacefulness as we savor the taste of our favorite morning sustenance.

Then she comes over to tell me that it’s time.  She meows quite plaintively until I put down my coffee and pay attention to her.  I pick her up, cradle her in my lap, nestled in a blanket.  She insists that she is held baby-like, face up   Once in position, she stops meowing and snuggles down in the blanket on my lap.  Her eyes close with an audible sigh and the purring begins.

tiffykins1

Smiling down on her blissful face, I begin to pet her and in turn, her purring reverberates into my body.  It is a sensitive moment of tenderness between two souls.  A bit of fur therapy for me as I stroke her chin, feeling the soft fur under my hand.  This ritual stops my mind from it’s constant chatter as I concentrate on the moment, the peace, the presence that this moment brings to us both before the flurry of the day begins in our house.

As a cancer survivor (or not), it’s important to find these small pockets of presence in our day, to relax, to reconnect with ourselves and to just be peaceful.  There’s something to be said about the healing properties of a purring cat that I personally find quite soothing.  Lucky for me, even when I feel rushed in the mornings, Tiffy does not allow our ritual to be forgotten and therefore she gives me what I need ~ peace, love and understanding ~ for myself and for others.

Do you have a special way of connecting with the Presents of Presence?

Shine On!

xo

P.S.  I think this one works for Michelle’s Pet Challenge as well!  Make sure you pop over to see her over at Hope the Happy Hugger!

Daily Prompt ~ Superstar!

Golden Yvonne

Daily Prompt: Ready for Your Close-up

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SUPERSTAR.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/daily-prompt-superstar/

A few years ago, I had my hubby take this photo of me because I felt so triumphant ~ I’ve been NED (no evidence of disease) from my breast cancer diagnosis for quite a few years now, but that December I was feeling so great!  It was during the holidays and as you may know, I was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve of 2001, so December is often a melancholy month for me.  One that insists that I take the joy and the changes in stride in my life ~ one that makes me be grateful for what I have in the now ~ hence The Presents of Presence ~ as I’ve learned that NOW is all we can control ~ if we can truly control anything.

So when the Daily Prompt asked for photographers to show SUPERSTAR, I thought of this photo.  My best friend called this shot Golden ME ~ so here I am!

We are all Superstars!

Shine On!

xo