The mug pictured is a gift from a dear friend and I drink my coffee from it every morning. And every morning I am reminded of the journey she and I took together through breast cancer. At the time of our diagnosis in 2018 we were just acquaintances, really no more than “facebook friends” that attended the same high school and were living in the town we grew up in.
As soon as I learned of my “acquaintance’s” diagnosis, I quickly messaged her and we decided to meet for coffee. Had you been in that cafe, you would have thought you were looking at two women who had been friends for decades. We shared everything that early morning … and I mean EVERYTHING! And the best part? We were crying laughing the entire time. Our early morning coffee and cackle meetings continued along with regular texting all through chemo, double mastectomies, radiation, and other related procedures.
I remember her telling me, “you are so good at this cancer stuff!” and that she immediately thought of me when she saw the word “courage” on that mug. It’s funny though because when I think about how I handled cancer, the word “courage” doesn’t seem to come to mind …
I think the words on the inside of the mug, she believed she could so she did, better resonates with me. I believed I could beat cancer – so I did.
More importantly, I believed that I could experience my cancer journey peacefully. Cancer became my classroom and taught me that peace was available and that I could choose it no matter what was going on with me physically or emotionally.
The most important advice my oncologist gave me was to let go of everything I had ever read or been told about the treatments for cancer. Let my experience be mine alone. And he was right. If peace was to be my experience, that meant I had to drop all of my preconceived ideas about the potential side-effects, including pain.
I am not going to lie to you … every day it took a lot of work, a lot of inner- work.
Was I afraid at times? Did I get angry, feel victimized, and experience horrible physical pain? Absolutely. (Neulesta was definitely not my friend!)
But each time I felt angry, hopeless, or was in terrible pain, I would remember that I could choose a different experience, a peaceful experience, and forgive. And then my mind would relax again and my symptoms would ease.
Maybe this was about courage all along? If having courage is to be fearless, then I think my girlfriend was right … about both of us. Every time I chose peace over anger, I was being fearless. Every time my girlfriend and I chose laughter over pain, we were being fearless.
The best way I can sum this up is that when I faced cancer I chose to be courageous in deciding what I wanted above all else and then chose to believe that I could have it.
Who knows, maybe it wasn’t the chemo or surgery that healed my cancer … maybe choosing courage, belief, peace, and laughter, is how it got done. If there is a chance of that being true, then please pour yourself a healthy cup of courage and see what you can cure!