On April 30, 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had found a lump in my right breast a few weeks before and had scheduled a mammogram. A few months before that my nurse practitioner had missed the lump. Then she missed it again. But something worried me just enough to schedule the mammogram. It was the beginning of trusting my gut. And of healing my gut.
Many tests later my worse fears were confirmed. When I think back on what those days were like, it feels like I was sleep walking. It's all so very real yet so surreal at the same time. Cancer isn't the only thing that can shake up a person's world, but it does a hell of a job at it. I was terrified and completely confused. I had no family history of breast cancer. I had spent most of my adult life living in a way that wouldn't give me this result. I ate really well, I exercised, I did yoga, I was a creative, adventurous person in the world, I had great friends. I daresay I was happy, yet I feared cancer. I had spent my adult life fearing cancer, and cancer was what I got. I don't know if there's a connection. I just know I got a chance to face my biggest fear and overcome it.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have healed cancer on my own terms. It was an amazingly difficult and enriching time. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, but I wouldn't trade the experience, either. I had to dig really deep within myself, and it turned out I liked what I found. The essays that follow are thoughts I had while healing and express the way I fumbled to that place of self-discovery. This is my story of transformation. These essays were what moved me, what felt so profound that I had to write it down. The experience of cancer changed me because it needed to. Because I allowed it to. Cancer doesn't appear without reason. It shows up, in my opinion, to tell us something. I chose to listen.
With that said, I'd like to say that I know nothing about cancer. I don't know that anyone does. I don't know how I got it. I don't know how I healed it. I don't know the path to healing. I don't know what works and what doesn't. I only know what I did for myself, and it somehow worked. I only know that I knew what was right for me. It's more accurate to say I knew what wasn't right for me. Finding what was right took a while. Each of us has to dig deep to find out what that is. It's a very personal journey with no absolutes. It is the most intimate journey of trusting oneself. That's really the only point I want to make. We are each our own healers. We can heal. We can learn to trust ourselves again. Healing from cancer is a lonely journey in many ways. No one can do it for you. No can really be there with you when the terror strikes. But people will try. They'll love you back to yourself if you let them. They'll show you how to love yourself. Healing from cancer can be an amazing opportunity to open your heart to the world. But first you have to open your heart to yourself.
Everyday there is more information on healing with unconventional treatment. Every day there is more hope. More stories of people braving a new path to healing. I don't claim to have anything to teach you, but maybe adding my story of healing to other people's stories will make cancer a little less frightening to the next person. All of us who were told there was only one way to heal have discovered otherwise. There are as many ways to heal as there are people who are healing. Trust yourself. Tell your story. Please tell your story. If this book helps to dispel even a little of the fear that the conventional treatment model instills in those who are diagnosed, I will be ever so grateful. It will have been worth it. Cancer does not have to be a death sentence. You do not have to live in fear. You can heal. Better yet, you can thrive.
If this book leaves you with any sense of hope, please pass it on to others who are dealing with a diagnosis or to their families. Help me and others like me spread the word that cancer is not an end to life. It is a call to life if you let it be. If you will dare to trust yourself.