It’s breast cancer awareness month and I always feel a little bit confused around this time of year as I reconcile my own journey and those of my fellow survivors and thrivers amidst the frenzy of pink products and pink infused cocktails.
I’ve been waiting for some inspiration to strike as I reflect on four years as a breast cancer survivor and have been feeling a little bit stuck. In years past I’ve been able to articulate my reflections and even offer some mindful tips to honor breast cancer awareness month. I remain grateful for all that breast cancer awareness month does in terms of fundraising and the goal to come up for a cure. But this year, my heart reminds me that for better worse this is community based in loss, and so my heart breaks for the many lives lost and their families not just of breast cancer, but all cancers.
That was going to be it for this year. But then good ole Facebook reminded me of my last day of chemo in Facebook memories – exactly four years ago today. The moment took me by surprise, and I broke down in tears. I recall this moment so clearly. The raw mix of elation that I completed sixteen treatments of chemo and the reality of physical exhaustion of what I had endured.
Below is an excerpt from my book, sharing the sentiments of this day and the awareness that cancer continues to be a teacher for me, not about being sick, but about living life with truth and open-heartedness.
“Mom and Dad come in for my last chemo session. I’ve ordered cake-pops for the nurses as a thank you. After I complete my final infusion, I’m enthusiastically greeted by the nurses, doctors, and other patients. They shower me with confetti and grant me my certificate of chemo completion. I’m overwhelmed and in tears as usual. This community has nurtured me in a way that gives new meaning to the sentiment that it takes a village.
Finally it is my turn. I get to ring the bell, the one I’ve enviously watched so many others ring these last six months. Its ring reverberates joy, love, and light throughout my being. I’m done with chemo.
I can’t believe I made it.
I fully appreciate the kaleidoscopic moments that marked my cancer journey and continue to inform my life. The moments where light and dark converged, reminding me that life is full of endings and beginnings, losses and love, fear and faith. I have no idea what lies ahead. While cancer hasn’t defined me, it has transformed and transmuted me. I walk in the world with a new perspective and with a glimpse of a higher version of myself.The collective and collaborative energy from others is perhaps one of the most important gifts my journey through cancer has taught me; not only could I not do it on my own, I’m not meant to. It is our birthright as spiritual beings living this human experience to love and to be loved, to connect with others, and to show up, even when we don’t know how to do so. I am proud and humbled.But as I leave the infusion room for the last time, I can’t help but think, now what?”~Excerpt from Here We Grow: Mindfulness Through Cancer and Beyond