Breast cancer was the force of nature I needed to get back in my body and wake up to life. It was March, 2012, and I was lying in bed when I scratched an itch on my right breast and felt the thick mass. I paused. And then the disorientation I had been feeling for months morphed into the message that had been trying to be heard: something was wrong; my body was confused.
A life of post traumatic stress had gifted me the ability to disconnect with ease, and while dissociating from feeling was my go-to in times of distress, healing was about being present in self and in the moment. So I sat in the confusion and gained the following clarity: The dissociative power would only bend when pushed by a force of equal or greater strength. That is, only something like cancer would have the power to reconnect me to me.
Support Close By
My brother and sister were devastated when the tissue biopsy confirmed Stage II, Triple Positive Breast Cancer. I was their little sister. And this wasn’t a game of hide and seek where I could hide from cancer and not be found. We knew what loss felt like and it was terrifying. Renal cancer slowly took our mom away in April, 2005, and our dad’s life ended abruptly from a heart attack in December, 2007. Facing mortality was still a fresh emotional knick for us. Now I had to look at it again, and my brother and sister did too.
Connecting with Life
Going through cancer treatments without my mom and dad sucked. My heart hurt. Not only did I want my parents to tell me everything would be okay, I wanted to tell my mom how sorry I was for not being there with her more during her treatments. I can’t imagine how scared she was sitting with the diagnosis, contemplating her life, her kids, her husband, and going to many appointments alone. I was scared too, and it was surreal knowing my mom and I had looked at the same end-of-life issues.
Fighting breast cancer catapulted me from a deadened existence into a vibrant life. My mom only had a 3 percent chance of survival by the time the tumor was found. Her odds of living were low; she knew she was dying. And then her bubbly effervescent little girl was fighting for her life, too; the daughter who knew she wasn’t living. There was no way out, no way that I could have avoided feeling the fight. Feeling the effects of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation cracked me open. Cancer demanded that I wake up and reconnect. And it was necessary, so I could enjoy the life my mom and dad gave me.