Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Reacting to a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I was a young, busy teacher.
It seemed a cumbersome disruption to go for the ultrasound my doctor advised, and I was told surgery was to follow.
The efficient and ordered perimeters of my world quickly dissolved.
Almost twenty years ago cancer diagnosis came after surgery, so uncertain of diagnosis I remember a weekend cleaning the apartment, and getting in food for what lay ahead.
It was cancer and surgery was so much less efficient than today.
Eight days in hospital were followed by convalescence, then six weeks of bus trips in a cancer bus to the nearest radiation center. At the end of the day another long trip home.
After radiation finished someone else had my teaching position and my future appeared uncertain in all ways.
I had just moved to and brought an apartment in a new city so it was a lonely, uncertain time.
But one by one doors opened. In the silence of my new life I began to paint again and these paintings were the start of a painting career that supported me for many years.
I am now well and cancer clear but since that time I have had two further breast cancers and seen the incredible advances in both diagnosis and treatment.
My last cancer surgery I was home from hospital the next day and the radiation center was in my home town.
I will never forget however the crumbling of my world I felt on first diagnosis. I had had confidence in my physical body and ability to achieve. Suddenly these perimeters were changed, my body was uncertain and I was advised not to return to a career I had worked to attain.
Now almost twenty years later I look back at this time and see life did become uncertain but also more open. It enabled my compassion for others to grow, and took my life in directions that although not planned were full of color. It also showed me the power of learning to listen in the silence to the inspiration of `The Spirit'.