October brings sweet memories of the change of seasons, the leaves turning and the weather cooling down. It's a wonderful time of year to reflect on life as we get ready for the winter months. October is the month dedicated to the fight against breast cancer and a month to celebrate breast cancer survivors!
I am a 13 year breast cancer survivor and the month of October reminds me of my fight, my courage, my determination and will, my positive attitude that empowered me during my fight. I have learned so much about myself, my family and friends, my dogs and my yoga pals. Yes my dogs who innately know when their loved ones are suffering or struggling with life's challenges. Anyone who has a dog knows what I mean!! My parents who wanted to take away the pain and was there unconditional once again. My daughter at age 14 who at first didn't know how to handle the situation but quickly stepped up to the plate and began nurturing and loving from the bottom of her heart. My boys, ages 17 & 21 who would encourage me on how great I looked in baseball caps and bandanas but who also hid their feelings of fear as they made their way through this diagnosis. My dear husband, Scott who was in denial but nonetheless stood by my side the best he could at that time. I remember him saying I am glad it's you because I have no friends. My yoga friends took care of meals, and continued to attend my yoga classes. They inspired me to keep teaching and would acknowledge what a great class each one was. Needless to say, they were terrible and unfortunately the best I could teach during treatment. This realization fell upon me when my treatment ended because I began to notice my mind and body slowly syncing together. Awww chemo brain…. The love was amazing and heartfelt; I could not have perservered without them. We were a team until the end and stronger together.
Even before my cancer diagnosis, I considered myself living a healthy and mindful life; however, I was under extreme stress dealing with my son’s drug and alcohol addiction. When I found a lump, very close to my breast bone, 13 years ago, 2007, I knew something was not right. It was tender to the touch, and of course, my repetitive thoughts tried to alleviate the fear ‘cancer usually isn’t painful when you touch it’. I continued following through with mammograms and ultrasounds every 6 months for 2 years, nothing showed up. I trusted my intuition and knew this was not normal. Finally, a MRI determined the cancer diagnosis, treatment - mastectomy and
chemotherapy - onward to soul survivorship - to volunteering with one of the best organizations, Soul Ryeders - teaming up with Sandy Samberg and Kate Conn as they developed the Wig Exchange. This was significant in my giving back, healing and moving forward. I happen to fall into the 10 percentile, where ductile carcinomas don’t show up on mammogram or ultrasound. Trusting my intuition was key and significant.
These memories bring tears of joy and gratitude as I reflect on my life during that time.
I have also learned “during the hardest and most challenging of times in life, it is where we have the opportunity to learn and grow and grow." Although it is difficult to find the "opportunity" it is truly an amazing thought that can empower one to explore and discover the lessons bestowed upon us.
There is a special aura that surrounds people who have coped with, recovered from and
survived cancer. Along with the shock, fear and loss many experience comes this unbelievably surge of unexpected strength, courage and wisdom. If we can beat this dreadful disease and all its physical and emotional side effects, it empowers us to face and overcome other challenges that come our way. It’s truly a powerful and indescribable feeling that turns a helpless soul into a hopeful being and simply changes one’s life and perception. The feeling lives within everyone who has taken the journey; I believe cancer survivors and as well those who have had challenging circumstances have a true sense of what’s important in life and tend to live in the grace of the moment. With every breath, we nourish our vitality, we heal, we grow, we stand
strong together and we move towards wellness. We humans get through it and that’s the testament to the human spirit and although we are fragile, we are also divine.