Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Just Happened?

I think I may have had a dream.
I remember it was Valentine's Day and something shocked me to my core. I cried. I remember trying to control, like I was captain of a ship. Lots of people around me were scared. I was scared.  I remember lots of information and being overwhelmed, and then something kicked in - a profound, mysterious, and unknown thing. The control faded and surrender kicked in.  
I think there was a hospital and some pain and discomfort. I remember the surprise smile on my Doctor's face when she looked at my chest and feeling relieved. I remember lots of people who I love, respect and care for surrounding me. I remember feeling worried and scared. And then again that same feeling appeared - that profound, mysterious and unknown thing. The self judgement and angst dissipated, my receiving muscled flexed, and love kicked in.  
I remember needles, lots of needles. I remember feeling nauseous and scared. I remember lots of bad TV, I mean REALLY bad TV (ie: Breaking Amish).  I remember heaviness in my body. I remember looks of worry and concern when people looked at me.  And then that same thing kicked in - that profound, mysterious, and unknown thing. Then laughter, friends and family, walking and doing pilates brought a new sense of joy.  And pancakes, I remember lots of pancakes.  
And then I remember a final needle prick, a celebration, a bell. A profound connection to the the deepest part of myself. A self comprised of love, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom, self-confidence, humility, massive humility. And a knowingness that I am forever changed, forever guided and protected, forever loved and loving, and forever reminded to always stay present to the moment. 

And then I woke up! Wide awake. Now what? 

The truth is I'm in a confused state where mentally I know I'm done with this phase, but physically I'm still feeling pretty crummy. Medically, I still have a bit of a road ahead with a new daily medication to be taken for the next 5-10 years and reconstructive surgery. 

So I believe the opportunity now is slowly stepping back into the world with the lessons of my treatment to inform the road of my recovery. I'll take it day by day. I'll pause with more purpose. I'll continue to nurture my body with what it desires in this new regeneration phase. I'll meditate. I'll embrace gratitude and presence when I'm with others. I'll look forward to experiencing more of myself. And I'll write the words that have been given as gifts  to remind me of something much greater than myself is at play - that profound, unknown, and mysterious thing that's been with me all along.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I'm not sure if it is the realization that my chemo journey is quickly coming to a close (with another surgery to follow). Or the influx of breast cancer data and awareness in my face since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Or perhaps it is the fact that the cumulative effects of the chemo are taking its toll, but suddenly I am a blubbering mess and finally embracing the sucky nature of these last 8 months. It's as if hindsight has moved in and become the wise old teacher.

So many people have commented on how positive I have been throughout this process. But the truth is, it hasn't been about being positive.  It's been about being present. Doing whatever I need to exist in the current moment. While I would like to take credit for this present moment awareness, it's really been my body that is calling the shots, I've just mentally gotten out of the way. And to be honest, I think it is actually a bit of a survivor's technique. Now that I am approaching the end of this part of the journey, it's as if my psyche is finally allowing me to process.

It was always important for me to share my journey. Not for everyone else, but for myself - as a depiction and a reflection of what I have endured. I can look back at the first Facebook post after my surgery and feel proud that I was up and around after just one week. But I can also remember the pain that kept me up and night and the nauseating process of dealing with my drains on a nightly basis and crying myself to sleep wondering how I would make it through.

As I reflect on the posts following my chemo sessions, I can laugh at my quirky posts about foods, TV shows and the importance of counting down the sessions. But, I am also reminded of the days when I couldn't leave my bedside and how important that countdown was.  Or how it took every ounce of mental energy to power through the nausea to down that lentil soup.

I can look at pictures of my sweet puppy Buck as a reflection of the joy that literally got me up in the morning. And I can embrace that with all of the amazing love and support of my many friends and family surrounding and supporting me, most nights, it was just me - and sometimes that was really scary.

While I can see vibrancy in my face as I look at pictures with friends and family, I also see someone I don't really recognize. With all of love I have discovered for myself and others from a much deeper and authentic place, sometimes I just see a sick person. A bald,  browless, eylashless, dry, sick person where my tears are the one constant reminder of my release and my surrender.

This hasn't been about putting on a brave face, this has been about reminding me how I have confronted my deepest darkest fears and in the process found moments of profound grace, love, faith and compassion for myself.  It is the moments that I pray become the mainstay to keep me guided, focused, and connected to the deepest part of myself as I move forward in life. I also welcome the ebb and flow of it all.

I have no idea what lies ahead for me. For better or worse, I am forever changed. While cancer has not defined me, it has transformed and transmuted me. I am now walking in the world with a new skin and a new perspective and a glimpse of the higher version of myself radiating through my eyes.  I am proud and I am humbled. I trust this is a temporary state and that in no time I will be in a new state of rediscovery as my body celebrates the welcoming of so many of the things I have lost. But as my Buddhist therapist keeps reminding me, sometimes we just have to "be in it." So for just a few more weeks, I am embracing and learning to love the "ugh."