My Breast Cancer Journey Continues - Part 14

The One Thing that Breast Cancer and Spiritual Awakening Have in Common.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March this year, I had no idea what to expect. I was open to whatever the experience would bring and completely unaware of how it would impact my ongoing spiritual awakening.

As of today, I’m about two years into my spiritual awakening and four months into my breast cancer journey. I’ve found that they have one thing in common, they both invite you to reevaluate all aspects of your life. Sometimes it’s a sweet invitation and other times the invitation feels like an arm twisting.

Regardless of the cause, or style of invitation, you get to evaluate what’s working in your life and what’s not. Some days, or weeks, or months, feel like a dark night of the soul, which is dramatic name to call that space during the shift between the old way of doing things and the new way of being.

That’s what much of June felt like for me. I’ve been doing a deep dive inward. Recognizing, allowing and gently investigating the emotions that were coming up, and then nurturing those areas. I’ve been reading Tara Brach’s book, Radical Compassion, to and from appointments and it’s been beautifully helpful. In the book she details her RAIN process. I recommend reading it if self-help is your thing.

Slowly, the dark night is ending, and the new dawn is coming. At least this round of the dark night is ending. Yes, this can happen multiple times during an awakening, and it has for me.

The path forward has started to come into focus. The intentions of my mind and my heart are beginning to become clear. For now, though, it’s time to focus on radiation therapy.


I Don’t Get to Become a Superhero, but I do Get Radiated.

Radiation therapy began last week. Instead of my scheduled “dry run”, I had an actual therapy session. The doctors and the insurance company were negotiating my course of therapy. My doctors lost so they moved up the start date for my therapy.

Now that it’s begun, I have only two concerns. My energy and my skin. Okay, I have one more, I am concerned for my lungs. It’s radiation! It’s not the superhero kind of radiation like in graphic novels or monster movies, but I do get cleared of any remaining cancer cells!  

My Radiation Oncologist is aware of my asthma and sensitive skin, and we are taking care to protect them during my treatment. The angle of the radiation beam is designed to protect my lungs and I have steroidal cream to help my skin because radiation therapy can cause a burn, redness, and swelling.

My energy is on me to care for. And, quite frankly, I’m already fatigued. It can’t be from the treatment, I’ve only had 2 of 15 treatments, it’s likely from the schedule. I will have radiation treatments every weekday through July 16th, with the exception of July 5th. I get a break for the holiday. Some days I have additional appointments for physical therapy or with my Medical Oncologist. This week in particular is busy with appointments.  

After being on pandemic lockdown and working from home for over a year, I’m a little out of shape and the schedule of doctor and therapy appointments is a lot. The cancer too, was fatiguing and I’m still recovering from surgery.

Self-care is the only thing that can save me now. I get rest when I need it and exercise when I need it. When I have strong emotions, I feel them and release them. And when I need some spiritual help, I honor that need. Self-care is my 2nd priority only behind my cancer treatment.


Lesson This Week.

Both breast cancer and spiritual awakening invite us to reevaluate our lives. Our emotions get piqued, our schedules get full, and we begin to tune into what’s working for us and what isn’t. When we figure out what’s not working, we can make adjustments. They aren’t always easy, but they get us closer to our true selves.

Self-care will save us every time. Okay, maybe not every time, but when our lives get challenging it helps. Scheduling self-care into our busy days is important. The busier we are, the more self-care we need. Please know that we don’t have to earn our self-care. It’s not a treat. It’s caring for ourselves so that we can do what we need and want to do with our lives.

Representation matters. When I was deciding what course of action to take for surgery, single or double mastectomy, flat closure or reconstruction, I looked online for people that had experienced it. Representation of all types of surgical decisions and outcomes mattered to me. With that in mind, I’m posting pictures of me in hopes that it may be of service to someone else faced with this decision.

If that’s you, if you’re faced with this decision, contact me. DM me on social media. Use my contact form on my website. Let’s talk. I will share with you what I know and help in any way I can. You got this.

All photos included on this page were taken by me this morning. In the image on the bottom right you can see a sticker that my radiation therapists use for marking. Yes, I have a lot of moles. Some of the moles in this image were made by marker, also by my radiation therapists, for mapping the field. 

I also show you my scars for the first time. They are healing well don't you think? 

Be well,