How Does Cancer Serve Me? – Know Thyself

HairMy first response is anger.

Who am I mad at? It does not matter. I don’t know. All that matters is I am mad!

When I got my pathology about my breast cancer I was told everything was okay. I got them to take the entire breast to make sure, and the lump nodes were all negative. I was so relieved. Overwhelmingly relieved!

Now – I am back at square one. And extremely angry.

I get to go through chemo therapy, and of course the kind where I lose my hair.

MY HAIR!

Not only do they cut off my breast, now they are going to take my hair. And what is worse, they are telling me, “It’s better if you buzz it all off yourself, so you don’t have to see it fall out day after day.”

Oh thanks. That’s so much better.

As I sit here, a hair falls down onto my hand, and I’m annoyed. I brush it away, not even thinking.

Then it hits me, like a bullet from a rifled musket.

How stupid. Next week I will wish for hair to annoy me so.

Sorry, mind wondered.

Thank goodness I got the prognosis today. Tomorrow I had a hair appointment. Imagine spending all that money to look and finally feel better, after months of crap, just to cut it all off – myself!

I always thought of myself as Samson from the Bible, “I will lose my strength if I lose my hair.” And my strength is everything (a past life thing). My strength and my being are so intertwined. I know I have to have my strength to survive.

Now I fear the prophecy will come true.

All I feel is anger at the inevitability of what’s to come.

Breathe. Breathe. God help me. Breathe.

It’s one in the morning, enough wallowing. Snap out of it.

Okay, I’m back. That is, the analytical, type A personality, me.

Why is this happening? What is my subconscious doing?

Let me tell you, it is busy. It’s checking off several lessons by introducing chemo to my life.

First and foremost, my fear of having more cancer cells hiding, lurking in my body. Waiting like tiny time bombs ready to explode.

What if… -they didn’t get it all? What if they missed one cell? What if I didn’t do all I could, when I could, to get rid of the cancer in my body?

I didn’t realize I was such a “what if” person. But trust me, cancer changes you.

I see a patch of dry skin and think, Is it? Could it be? No, don’t say the “C” word.

After chemo I will feel so much better. That seems an oxymoron.

I can’t say I will feel safe though because I don’t think I will ever feel safe again.

Imagine, not feeling safe in your own body. Feeling that at any moment, your body can betray you. Again.

Okay, chemo will help me feel better. Feel I have done all I can, or could, do.

Next. My fear that my strength resides in my golden locks. Well, at least the logical, left side of my brain knows better. Now my past life, right side will catch up. Unfortunately, the only way for that to happen is to go through this stupid thing and come out stronger. Again, the left side knows I will. (Note to self: I will have to follow-up this notion from a past life / life lesson angle when I am not so mad. Yes, the anger’s still raging in the back of my brain.)

FistAnother thing my subconscious is helping me learn is (again!) that woman bit. Since I am here in this life to experience being a woman, what better way than to strip away everything that classifies a woman, a woman?  Literally.

Oh, didn’t I mention they are going to push me through menopause to help with some estrogen thing? I guess estrogen is no good for cancer.

So, if they take my breast, cut my hair (sorry make me cut my hair), and take away my monthly woman time, I will learn that none of those things make a woman.

Right. Thank you, subconscious.

I told you the subconscious will go to unimaginable lengths to help us learn our life lessons. Here I am living proof.

I am so hoping I can learn all this, so I can rebuild my womanhood with the reconstruction surgery that’s to come.

Next thing my subconscious is checking off is my fear of hair loss. My grandmother had thinning hair, my mother thinks she has thinning hair, they say it runs on the mother’s side, so where does that leave me? Chemo and losing my hair will definitely cover this fear.

I will get a wig. That will alleviate any fears I have of those things. And I know after losing all my hair, I will appreciate all the hair that grows back. So, another worry checked off my list.

My deep desire is that my hair will come back thicker, and maybe even curlier, than before. Wouldn’t that be a bonus?

I also get the summer off. That will be nice, though I will feel too ugly to go anywhere.

I can spend more time at the gym. But I probably won’t because now I have to worry about a boob falling out and my hair falling off.

Oh sorry. No wallowing.

Well, after all that, does it feel better knowing what your subconscious is doing? Do I feel better knowing I am learning my life lessons?

As mad as I am at my subconscious for doing this to me – yes, I do feel better knowing why. And I do feel better knowing I did this to me. No one else. Not God or Satan or anything or anyone else. This is all me.

This reinforces – I am responsible for what happens in my life.

I volunteered.

Losing a Breast

Pink Ribbon3I was amazement at my response to having my right breast removed. While I thought I would feel less of a woman, I actually feel more of a man.

As I run my hand over my bound chest, I feel the ribs beneath. This is oddly comforting and very familiar.

Past life memories of being a man flood my mind. Once, as an adolescent boy, I saved my sibling from a bear. (Look for this story in my upcoming post: Mastectomy – Being Filleted Like a Fish.)

I remember the feeling of being in this boy’s body. Since he had little to eat, the boy’s ribs showed through the thin shirt he wore. In the summer heat, his skinny but athletic frame reflected months of chopping wood for winter. It felt good to be in this boy’s body. He was truly happy.

When I look over the past lives I have discovered so far, I was predominately a man. I have only found one where I was a woman, other than this one.

No wonder breasts were never my favorite things. They aren’t normal for me. However, I chose to be a woman in this life. And as a mother and a wife, I am quite enjoying my choice.

When breast cancer became my reality, I focused on reconstruction. I even joked about going from an A to a whopping C. And when an important female in my life said, “You have to have breasts, you’re a girl,” I knew I had no choice: I would be reconstructed back to a woman.

New Baby2“Being a woman” means different things to different people. However in this life, for me, it means being in a female body and exploring what that means.

Things like: having babies, breast feeding, menstruation, menopause, high heels, make-up, being a career woman in a man’s world, and being a stay-at-home mom.

I know why I got breast cancer and they removed one breast. I needed to remember a life lesson I had planned for myself. The life lesson of exploring womanhood.

I also know why I will only have breast cancer in one breast. It would be too tempting to leave them off.

In this life, to me, a part of being a woman is having all the woman parts.

My Subconscious’ Wicked Sense of Humor

I had my surgery this morning and have discovered how I stay so healthy (usually).

My subconscious does everything to make me hate hospitals.

  1. I discovered at my biopsy I am allergic to steri strips, a kind of surgical tape. These are my doctor favorite way to sucure wounds.
  2. I discovered today I am extremely allergic to betadene, a disinfectant used to clean skin around surgical procedures. They lathered it on my chest like cream.
  3. i am allergic to gravol.
  4. Allergic to Tylenol and Tylenol 3s.
  5. But the one allergy everyone ignored was black pepper. I was told over and over the kitchen never spices the food – poppycock! I got lasagna and Caesar salad with not just pepper, but fresh ground. Oh so not good!

imageTime to go home?
No. Eight more hours to go.

Did I mention I have a migraine from not eating. All they can give me is morphine, which does nothing for headaches.

That is how my subconscious keeps me away from hospitals.

It reminds me being healthy is way easier.

Thank Gods It’s Breast Cancer

“Happiest day of my life!”

The words were out of my mouth as soon as I heard “negative”.

I couldn’t stop smiling and I couldn’t stop the tears of joy. Happy is an understatement.

The biopsy of my lymph nodes came back negative. That part of waiting was over. And knowing all I have is breast cancer is such a relief.

The Future3I got my life back.

I always thought the days I gave birth to my three children were the best. Holding them for the first time, mesmerized by their tiny faces, I was so grateful they were finally born and I could see they were healthy. Those first moments bring back such powerful memories.

But nothing compares to the gift of having a future.

Negative means I will see these children – my children – grow up. I will see them graduate, get their first cars, get married, and have children. I will be able to hug them, congratulate them, and console them. I will be able to hold my grandchildren.

Having children was a miracle.

Getting to spend my life with them, and my soul mate, is an incredible blessing. This is what cancer has taught me.

Cancer – Positives and Negatives

“Think positive,” is a phrase we commonly hear. We are told to look for the positive in people and in situations. In healing, we use positive energy and strive to get rid of negative energy.

The last time I thought of positive and negative in respect to medicine, it was while holding a pregnancy test. For me, positive meant everything.

Negative 2A positive result meant a new life had been created. It meant in nine months I would be holding a baby – my baby. It meant my life was about to change, for the better. I was going to be a mom.

Now, everything has flipped. When my doctor announced my biopsy result was positive, I was relieved and elated…But then she said, “It’s cancer.”

What? Wait a minute. When did positive go with a very negative term like cancer?

People are telling me to stay positive. They are sending positive thoughts. No one understands how I gut twists every time I hear the word positive.

I need to think negative. All I want on my lymph node biopsy is negative.

When I teach about the subconscious, I stress the importance of words. Words are extremely powerful because they are intertwined with memories.

Before, when I closed my eyes and thought “positive results,” I remember running after my husband who refused to give me, my peed-on pregnancy stick.

Now that phrase is tainted. And so is the word positive.

I don’t know how I am going to resolve my mental conflict with positive and negative. But I wanted the world to understand how cancer changes one’s life in more ways than ever imagined.

It’s fitting that cancer is due to an error at the cellular level because it truly does change you to your core.Heart2

All I ask is please remember, if someone you love has cancer or any medical condition that could be called a positive result – send them happy thoughts or send them your love. And when they have tests, pray for a negative.

Breast cancer brings back memories of a tragic past life

“Remember when you had those iron shots”, my husband said. “Wouldn’t it be funny if the lump turned out to be iron?” Good thing my husband and I have a similar warped sense of humor.

This comment was not as weird as it sounds. My butt is still black from those injections and that was over eighteen months ago.

His comment made me laugh. It also tripped me into a scene from a past life.

us3

I found myself in a dark room. Slowly, as if turning up an old oil lamp, a faint glow grew to illuminate the scene. A young boy, probably fourteen, sat in a ladder-back chair with a woven rush seat staring at a large oval mirror.

The silver backing of the mirror had deteriorated leaving rust spots over most of its surface. Only a small portion of the image remained.

But the boy was not watching his reflection. In the mirror, a couple danced across his view. A smile lit his face, and I stretched to see more.

Just like the boy, I was transfixed. An unknown force pulled me closer and closer.

Before I know what was happening, I felt strong arms wrap around me. I had become the woman in the mirror.

“You shouldn’t be here.” The words came from my lips. But I knew this woman, Roselyn, longed to be with this man, Beau.

Marc3Smirking, Beau whirled Roslyn around the floor. “I should be wherever you are my dear,” he said. “Look how I make you laugh.”

Despite herself, she smiled. She couldn’t resist him.

“My mere presence makes you shine like a brass button.”

The dark blue jacket of his uniform emphasized his broad, protective shoulders. His white gloved hands were only slightly suggestive against the curve of her back. And his buttons – his brass buttons reflected the dimples in his seductive cheeks. For such a professional soldier, Beau’s rakish charm definitely shone through – at least to her.

No other man had ever made her feel this way. The sight of him was balm to her weathered soul. His embrace made her believe in forever.

Even though they had met only once before, their connection was obvious. When he entered the room, he searched for her, like a flame seeking a moth. And as the flame drew near, the moth fluttered nervously.

My heart quivered in unison, feeling Roslyn’s response. But something felt wrong.

What was it?

Her response to his presence was not simply excitement. It was much more intense. It contained an undercurrent of – danger. Anticipation mingling with fear. But fear of what?

Everyone watched as Beau guided Roslyn through the intricate steps of the dance. The yellow of her ball gown matched exquisitely the color of his epaulets. Her delicate features enhanced his masculine frame. They made a striking pair.

Around them, couples danced. Influential military staff mingled. Food and flowers decorated tables throughout the room. The Virginia mansion was a beautiful backdrop for this captivating scene. Nothing marred its perfection.

Through the grand foyer entered a Confederate officer. With a controlled expression he scanned the room. His jaw clenched as he followed the crowd’s gaze to the shining couple on the dance floor. Dancing. Laughing. Flirting. The two were obviously lovers, this handsome Union soldier and his wife.

Roslyn was openly displaying her disregard for him and their marriage. Even though he had done the same to Roslyn, on numerous occasions, the reverse was unacceptable. She was making a mockery of him in front of everyone. His West Point peers, his superiors, and the few friends he had made in Virginia. He knew their laughter was aimed at him.

Unseen by the couple, he left the house. Minutes later he returned with his new service weapon in hand. As he raised his long rifle and took aim, the crowd divided. For the first time Roslyn saw her husband’s hateful glare. Knowing his intent, and knowing his deadly accuracy, she threw herself in front of the handsome stranger.

A shot sounded, and the world blurred around them.

Roslyn’s eyes locked with Beau’s. As she fell into his embrace, he held her close, lowering her to the ground.

“Stay with me,” he whispered.

Roses3Blood seeped through her bodice and onto his white gloves. The large lead round had penetrated her breast. It would be over quick. Locked in his arms, she felt no pain.

“Roslyn, stay with me. I will take you away from here. I will build you a wondrous house overlooking the river, with room for our children to run. I will even get you a dog.

“Stay with me, Roslyn. Please…stay.”

Tired, Roslyn closed her eyes as she listened. A single tear escaped her lashes and trickled down her cheek. They were nice dreams. Unfortunately they would have to wait.

Within minutes, her body slumped in his arms. She was gone.

As her soul left that body, I felt its longing echo in mine. Our souls were one, and now I remembered the loss that occurred in that moment. Roslyn had never been with Beau except on the dance floor that one night. She never felt his kiss. She never found their forever. Pledged to another, honour-bound to keep her vows, Roslyn sacrificed herself to save this stranger.

Breast cancer was not the first time I had a lump in my breast. When I researched rifles from that era, I found that the musket ball from that particular rifle was 1.18 inches. The lump in my breast is three centimeters – exactly 1.18 inches.

I pray the lump I have in this life can successfully be removed. Then maybe Beau, whose soul resides in my husband, and Roslyn can finally live a long happy life together.

 

 

With cancer, nights are the worst.

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My creativity flows so easily late at night, when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. I connect to the universe in a different way. Memories of far off places and people from my distant past come back to life.

Unfortunately, that has not changed. Now, however, I have unpleasant scenes surfacing – some from my distant past, some from more recent, and some of the future. Memories and my imagination run unchecked. It’s like running from tigers – running for my life.

I see my daughter walking down the aisle, but I’m not in the crowd. I see my son with his first child, but I’m scared I won’t be there to hold it or rock it while it sleeps. My sons’ graduations. My daughter falling in love. Their first cars. Hugs.

I might not be here for any of it.

The pictures are so vivid, the pain overwhelming. I want to bury my face in my husband’s loving, furry chest. Hold me. Protect me. Let me stay here forever. He is my rock and my savior. I want him to tell me everything is going to be alright.

I remember him holding me in a past life. “Stay with me,” he said while I lay dying in his arms. But I couldn’t. As much as I wanted to, my soul slipped away. And I couldn’t feel him anymore. I couldn’t feel his strong, supportive arms. I couldn’t feel his breath drying the tears on my face. He was out of reach.

He feels out of reach now too. All I have to do is go to him. Snuggle close, and feel his arms tighten around me once again. But I won’t. I won’t feel his arms, and I won’t hear those words because I won’t wake him.

He’s sleeping. They’re all sleeping. Everyone’s sleeping, even the dog.

It’s easy for people to say, “Wake me. Call me. You don’t have to go through this alone.” But you do.

Right now that’s the problem. Even when I’m surrounded by people who love me – I feel alone.

They look at me different. I know they can’t help it, but they do. No one knows what to say and no one is looking forward to going through this with me. We all wish this damn lump would miraculously disappear.

alone2I know experts recommend I reach out to others who have gone through it, but at the end of the day – at the end of a life – you are alone. They are yours – your fears, your regrets, and your loss. Even though I know there is something after – been there, done that, seen it – it is still my loss.

Facing death, regardless of how curable breast cancer is, brings all kinds of feelings thundering to the surface. And as much as I knew it would, nothing prepared me what I am feeling right now. Having cancer scares the hell out of me.