A few years back I had a dream I had cancer. It was one of those dreams you couldn’t shake. Not a weird dream you can let go of, but a deep down sense of knowing that cancer would be my path. And so a couple of months later when I woke in the middle of the night to discover a large ropey thickening burning in my right breast I knew what the outcome of the biopsy would be. I was terrified. Terrified of doing something. Terrified of doing nothing. The idea of surgery, chemo and radiation was almost more than I could bear. And then the inevitable came. A right mastectomy at the age of 39 only months after I’d finished breast feeding my children 7 years straight – it was just so wrong. I was fortunate my surgeon got clear margins although that involved removing some of my chest wall muscle.

To cope with what was happening I reframed things. I began to see myself as an amazon warrior. It is said the amazon warriors were a tribe of powerful women, who sacrificed their right breast in order to be able to use their bow and arrow with greater accuracy. So this is who I was, and this is how I started chemo. I used every internal resource I had to get my mind in the strongest place to move through this journey with grace and ease. Fortunately I was surrounded by family and friends who were able to give me heaps of hands on help . My therapist friends Tracey, Peter, Greg sat with me and helped me tap into my inner healing resources, helping me to feel calmer, stronger and more peaceful. They helped me to undo the mere suggestion of side-effects by medical staff that seemed to plant a seed in my head. Isn’t it interesting how the thoughts and expectations of others can have such a profound affect on your experience. My naturopathic friend Robyn helped with a ton of vitamins and herbs to strengthen me physically after successfully getting her son through a brain tumour. My oncologist Dr David I chose for his belief in the power of the mind in healing, and his belief in the importance of vitamins and herbs to support my body through the chemo. To him I was a whole person, body, mind and spirit. Every time I saw him I felt fantastic! And my beautiful husband Steve, who helped train my brain and support my nervous system through biofeedback and chiropractic to better handle the toxicity of the drugs and strengthen my ability to heal. He’s there in the picture with me, a week before I started chemo. I owe so much to them all.

I decided that the year in spite of everything was going to be one of my best. My youngest daughter had just started school. So two weeks after my first cycle of chemo I went out and got the job of my dreams and started a year of study. Having things to distract me, goals to kick, really helped me get through. And I had so much to live for. My 3 girls really kept me going. They even helped shave my head though perhaps a little reluctantly. I embraced wearing hats and people couldn’t believe how well I looked. People stopped me in the supermarket to comment. I took so much joy in the little things in life.

Well 5 months and 6 cycles of chemo later I hadn’t thrown up once. I ate well all the way through. And though there were the more difficult days I’d do it again if I had to. One week after my final cycle of chemo I went tobogganing in the snow with my family. Yep I climbed those slopes and tobogganed all the way to the bottom. It snowed for me. Pure magic. Maybe not quite as strong as I would normally have been, but I did it anyway. I was so elated to have got through. Now every day is a good day simply because I am still here. And the joy I have in helping others get through similar challenges is cancer’s gift to me.

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