29 Apr How Cancer Saved My Life
I know there are a lot of people out there who are struggling or you know someone who is struggling with a diagnoses of Cancer or another equally terrifying chronic illness. Today, I want to share with you my journey with my cancer diagnoses, that absolutely saved my life. I am grateful to be able to say I am cancer free and I want to share my story for anyone who needs it.
It’s 6 o’clock on Monday morning, and my alarm is going off. It’s time to get up and start another day. I drag myself out of bed and make my way into the kitchen where I put on a pot of coffee, then I grab my clothes and make my way to the shower. As I hop in the shower, my mind is racing through today’s to do list and dreading the day ahead.
As the Executive Director of a senior retirement community, I love my job, and I love knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of so many senior citizens. If only I could do something to change the corporate mentality that senior citizens have no value and just need to be warehoused. It’s all about the money; there’s no value placed all the years of wisdom to be found in each and every life that has been placed under my care. It breaks my heart because I grew up with all four of my grandparents and they were a very important part of my life. I understood at a very young age the value of their wisdom.
It’s just another day of doing everything in my power to provide my residents with the life they deserve and to buffer the broken promises made by the corporate world. Talk about stress, I lived in a world of constant stress!!!
Often in the evenings on my way home from work, I would reflect on my values and wonder if I could I continue this balancing act between these two worlds. Providing respect and value to my residents and satisfying the goals of the corporate world. My residents were always my first priority, but if I failed to meet the expectations of the corporate world, there would be a price to pay. I knew one thing for sure, my values and the company values were not in alignment and something needed to change.
Finally, I had, had enough, I just couldn’t do this anymore, so in May of 2015, I quit my job. I was determined that I wanted my life to be different.
A few years earlier, my son at the age of 25 had died suddenly. I was broken hearted; children aren’t supposed to die first. In my grief, I felt his presence everywhere. He showered me daily with spiritual gifts; the most important one being that life does not end when we leave our physical bodies. I found comfort in knowing that he was still very present in my life. He exemplified, that when a life is lived fully, there are no regrets because when it’s all said and done, the only thing the matters is love and his love surrounded me.
My daughter and grandchildren had just moved to another state, and I found myself all alone. I’ve always been a caretaker; I had spent most of my life devoted to raising my family, and now they were gone.
So there I was, with no job, my children and grandchildren gone and me left all alone in a big house. Believe me, you really know you are alone when the only footsteps you hear are your own footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been someone who takes the easy way. It wasn’t enough that my son had died, my daughter and grandchildren had moved away, that I had quit my job, no, there was one more thing that needed to change.
I made a decision to sell my home and the twenty years of precious memories that lived in that house. I took my time as I packed each memory away in boxes, to be put into storage. I moved into a small place where I could begin to sort through my life and decide where to go from here.
I was beginning to do some deep soul searching, and I was feeling very vulnerable when, in July of 2016, I made an appointment to go in for my yearly female exam. During the breast exam, the Dr. discovered a small lump in my left breast. She immediately scheduled me for a mammogram, which led to a biopsy, that by the way, they tell you is no big deal, but was, in fact, one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Still, I was optimistic; after all, this was all just routine.
A few days later when the results came back, I was not expecting to hear the words that I had stage 1, estrogen positive, breast cancer. What? It is an understatement to say that I was in a state of shock, how could this be, I didn’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. I was struggling to comprehend what all of this meant.
The nightmare began when, my primary care physician referred me into the hands of an oncologist; a stranger, who would now be in charge of my care. I don’t think anything could have made me feel more scared and alone.
My first appointment was with the oncologist on the phone, and she was very reassuring with a “don’t worry attitude, women experience this every day.” She described the gruesome details of what surgery would involve, followed by radiation, possibly chemotherapy and also a medication I would need to take for the next five years, that would block all the estrogen in my body.
Now, I know that I don’t have to tell you, because every woman who has experienced menopause, knows what happens when the estrogen levels in her body begin to decline. The thought of feeling like an 80-year old woman, before my time, was not what I had in mind.
As I listened to my options and what she described as the “standard of care” I felt completely powerless over my own life. What was I going to do? These treatments sounded worse to me than the cancer itself. How could doing more harm to my body possibly help?
During our conversation she talked about radiation, with an “it’s no big deal attitude” and she convinced me to make an appointment with the radiologist.
I remember that day as I found myself driving into a parking lot, where I found a place to park. I walked up to the door and stepped inside. I was greeted by the receptionist who checked me in and told me to have a seat in the waiting room. As I sat in the waiting room and I looked around at the hopelessness on the faces of the people that sat in that room, it was hard to breathe.
Finally, my name was called, and I went into the doctor’s office where I sat in the corner, in a hard metal chair and I waited for the doctor. When the doctor came in he was a strange looking man and as I looked into his face, I don’t know if it was the look in his eyes or the tone in his voice, but something made me feel like I was a fly caught in a spider web.
He proceeded to tell me about the procedure for radiation, and he assured me not to worry, your breast might get a little burnt, but it would heal (If you’ve ever talked to anyone who has gone through radiation, you know it’s more than just a little burned and extremely painful). So, I asked him what happens to the tissue inside your breast does that heal too? Oh no, he said, that will always remain radiated tissue, it will be hard and lumpy, and we try really hard not to get your heart, but there’s no guarantee! What? Really? Did you just tell me you could possibly radiate my heart? Not only was this very frightening to me, but I also knew what radiation does in your body. Later if you’re told you have cancer in another part of your body, the chances are high that it is from the radiation. Not to mention in 10 years when they tell you, that you have heart disease, they forget to mention it’s because they radiated your heart! It was in that moment that I knew I was not going to go down that path.
When I left his office that day I felt completely devastated. I drove myself home where I found myself all alone and I started to sink into a deep depression. In that dark night of my soul, I knew that I had two options I could go the traditional medical route or I could find another way to heal. I found myself facing one of the toughest decisions of my life and, from the looks of things, there weren’t many options.
As I whirling around in that darkness, I heard a voice in the back of my head that said, if you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed you can move mountains; something inside me shifted and I knew in that moment, that I would find another way to heal. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I would find another way.
You know our mind is a very powerful thing and can often make us doubt what we know as truth. I remember thinking thoughts like: What if you’re just fooling yourself? Are you prepared for this, you know, you could die? But, I knew I had heard the message, loud and clear, that it was possible to heal but was I prepared to face the possibilities of death? I searched my soul for the answer, knowing that no matter what happened, this life was not all there was.
The very next day a series of events unfolded that led me to a nutritionist, an integrative doctor and a naturopath oncologist and these three incredible women all had a specific message for me, that if I truly wanted to heal, it was about healing my body my mind and my spirit. Don’t ask me how I knew, but in my heart, I knew this was the right path for me to begin my healing journey.
I’m not by any means saying that any of this was easy, I was diving into a world I didn’t know much about. Each step I took challenged me to look at everything I had been taught. Relearning how to choose the right food for my body, and the reevaluating my belief’s especially about the food and what I had always been taught was healthy, and confronting my biggest fear; what did I really believe was possible?
As I began to uncover the layers that were casting a shadow over what I really believed was possible, I started having vision of the day I was born. I saw a sparkling, little girl who had come into this world, so hopeful, full of joy and excited about all the possibilities. Now years later, I was discovering that I had stuffed this little girl in a corner because the world she lived in as a child did not allow her to let her light shine, it was too dangerous.
The memories continued to surface. I remembered when I was 9 years old and my parents were going through a terrible divorce and how I sat and watched as lives were torn apart and destroyed. The pain I saw in my mother’s eyes was more than any little girl could bear. That was when I made a decision that I would do everything in my power to find a way to make her happy again. This was a very painful memory and I knew that I had to find a way out of the past into the present, so as I was swirling around in the tremendous love that I had for both my parents I knew I had to get a different perspective.
I envisioned myself jumping into a helicopter, it was like watching my life as movie, much the same way as you might do when you are looking at a play on the stage right in front of you. I saw how that little girl sacrificed herself, giving up all of her hopes and dreams, as she desperately tried to make other people happy. Her belief that if she was a good girl, if she cleaned the house, did the laundry and cooked dinner she would magically wipe away all the pain she saw in her mother’s eyes. What she didn’t realize was that that pain had nothing to do with her and she did not have the power to make it all go away. In that moment, as I realized that even though this had happened many years ago, I was still carrying that pain and sadness today. I had to find a way to let it all go and to recapture the feelings of that little girl, that I had abandoned, who had hopes and dreams of her own.
Ultimately, what I discovered is our beliefs continue to run in our subconscious mind much like the operating system on a computer that keeps running in the background. The only way to really know what is happening in our subconscious is to take a look at what is happening on outside of our body. What are we creating in our world?
The world is a mirror and will reflect back to us what is happening on the inside. As I began looking at this reflection, I discovered that because the beliefs I created long ago were manifesting themselves in areas of my life and preventing me from creating the very things that I desired most.
One of my mirrors was, I didn’t believe I deserved to have a loving, stable, relationship with a partner that matched my values and integrity. I knew what I wanted in my heart, I just couldn’t figure to change what I was attracting. Most of my relationship were with men who were very emotionally broken. But have no fear, I had a well-trained, little 9-year old girl, living inside me, who believed that she could just click her heals together and fix them. So much heartache with just that one belief that kept me caught in that movie.
Once we can start to recognize the things in our life that are preventing us from knowing that all things are possible, we can discover what belief is operating. If we look underneath that belief, we can discover the root of where it came from and how that belief served us well in the past, but does not serve us today. To truly free ourselves from the past we need to embrace that belief, validate that it really did happen and let it go, and that’s exactly what I did, I let go of that past pain and pattern in my life.
I began to do thing I never thought I would do, like hunting alligator’s in the middle of the night and taking a trip to Ireland to visit the land of my ancestors, my little girl was thrilled. This combined with food changes I made diving into epigenetic’s and the dynamics of our gene expression and other healing modalities that I engaged in allowed me to go back and get tested and I was grateful to learn that I was cancer free.
I agreed to go in every 6 months to be rechecked and when I went in for my first 6-month mammogram was I ever surprised. One of the things that happens when you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, is that every time you go in for a mammogram there is a doctor there that immediately reads it. I’ll never forget hearing the doctor tell me there were no signs of cancer. He continued to tell me how different the tissue in my breast had become, in fact my breast tissue had changed so much that I was now in the category of only 10 percent of women with a low possibility of getting breast cancer.
Then there was the conversation I had with my Oncologist. She was amazed at how different I looked and asked me what it was that was making such a huge difference. I told her about all the lifestyle changes I had been making. Through the last few years I have been seeing her on a regular basis, on one visit, I finally I said to her, what about you, I’m worried about you? She told me, that because of what she has seen happen with me; she has changed the way she is eating, she exercising more, and trying to reduce the amount of stress in her life.
For me I choose to find a way to heal naturally, but if you are faced with a diagnoses of cancer or some other chronic illness, no matter what your decision; whether to heal naturally, go down the traditional medical path, or to do a combination of both, it’s important for you to know that you have options.
Most importantly, my hope is you’ll find value in the things I’ve learned that will help support your body through this process of healing, to be not only a survivor but a thriver.
I want so deeply to have my experience be of service to anyone who is experiencing a diagnosis. I want everyone to know there is hope. I want to offer what I’ve learned to you. Come learn, it’s free, it’s my gift to you.
I’ve taken my experience and broken it into 5 lessons, each containing an essential part of the healing process. I encourage you to take what works for you. Sign up now to begin my 5 -part series The 5 most important lessons that led to my healing from cancer.
Let me know If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer, what are your primary fears or what would you like to know more about????
The contents of this post are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.