As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, I wanted to share this clip of me that was filmed by Jen Aks from The Power of Gesture just as I completed active treatment in 2021. (You can see the full interview at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF8SWzj5Blq1S8KGan6FXCl8tvxTPUVZm). My hair had started to grow back after chemo and I was on heavy doses of steroids to repair my body from a near-lethal case of pulmonary pneumonitis (lung inflammation) caused by chemo.
Healing and hopeful, I turned my attention to my mental health, something we don’t talk enough about as it relates to physical illness. I made the conscious choice to see cancer as a gift, something that honed me as it harmed me. Though I don’t want anyone to ever go through cancer, I wouldn’t erase it from my own history if I could. It made me stronger, wiser, braver, kinder, and more compassionate. It taught me to ask for help and advocate for myself and all others who walk this road.
Because of what I went through, patients at my cancer center now have better care. My personal health data from this battle has been presented at medical conferences and written about in medical journals to better train doctors and researchers. I continue to contribute to research for better treatments and cures.
From food drops at my front door to gifts of comfort to messages of encouragement in every communication channel I have, my community had my back every step of the way. Though physically alone for much of my journey, they made sure I was never spiritually alone. They brought me joy and hope, and many times that was all I had to hang onto.
There is no healing without grieving, and so I gave myself the space to grieve and mourn everything I lost. That process allowed me to recognize that while I can never get back my pre-cancer life and body, I can have something better — the life I have now. If we can let go of a dream that’s died, we can create something new and better. Healing isn’t linear nor easy, but now on this side of history I can say that it’s absolutely worth every ounce of effort. So no matter what you’re going through now, keep going. There’s something beautiful waiting for you.