2018 brought me the kind of challenges that shake your complete belief system. I have considered myself mindful, strong and aware for several years now. I even had the audacity to believe that the dream of DreamPrint could one day become a guiding light of strength and awareness throughout a dream building journey. Little could I imagine that the universe would test my strength the way it did this past year. After dealing with a bronchitis that would not go away, I decided to go to an urgent care center with my 10 year old son. I just thought I would get a quick check up and leave with a prescribed medication that would resolve the problem and be done with it. After an hour at the urgent care and a routine X-Ray Later, the nurse came back with a prescription and an observation. I didn’t expect an X-Ray of my chest would change my life.
A large mass was discovered between my lung and my heart. Although it was communicated with calm urgency, I knew in that moment something was wrong. In the span of a couple of weeks after this discovery there were several urgent specialist and doctors visits. I found myself with the diagnosis of cancer and in a hospital waiting to see if this tumor could be surgically removed, still with the hope of a benign and operable situation. As luck would have it, I woke up with the expectation of having had the tumor removed, but the expressions on the faces of my family members held another truth. The tumor was not operable. After a biopsy was taken, it was determined that it was an aggressive Large B-Cell Lymphoma in my thymus and I would immediately begin an intense course of chemotherapy treatment. There began the power of my mindset and there began the magic of my cancer journey.
There were never tears. I did not cry. I felt no sadness. I was determined, regardless of the prognosis, that I was going to make as much magic as I could throughout the journey. I knew worst case scenario, all I could leave behind to my son and the people I loved was the example of the ultimate positive attitude and showing strength through the hardest of times.
I am beyond blessed to be writing this on the other end of that journey. I have successfully overcome 8 months of intense inpatient chemotherapy treatments; countless doctors visits, bloodwork, surgery, side effects, and uncertainty. I am so blessed to communicate that I could never have imagined the unbelievable experience that this challenge has brought me. I can not say that this experience was not difficult, that I was not scared at times, or that I did not struggle. I did. But I can tell you that I always defaulted to my greatest power and that was the belief that a positive mind could be wondrous.
I am not the person I once recognized in the mirror, not the ideal self physically that reflects in the mirror. However internally, in my soul, and mentally I know with all certainty that I am closer to the ideal self I want to be. I learned that I could use adversity to grow, and that while treatment had a course to run on my time, that I could carve space in parallel and still work on building on my dreams. I want with all my heart to share some of the lessons and blessings that my journey taught me in the grand hope that my strength transcends these words and inspires strength in someone else who needs it.
Here are some of the important things I learned that I would like to inspire forward:
- Time for myself – I don’t think I have ever been more conscious of taking care of myself. Being so blessed to feel the connection between my soul and my body. I never had so many people concerned over my care. I am so grateful to my family, friends, doctors, and nurses. I was able to realize that so much unnecessary noise from my former routine was cut out and that this time was just focused on my health. I took advantage of hedging my treatment by incorporating practices in the hospital and my home that supported me both spiritually, mentally, and physically; Audible Books, Baths, Aromatherapy, Candles, Soft Blankets, Classical Music, Netflix, and Clean Eating. When I look back at this journey, I can truly say that these focuses gave me so much needed peace and joy.
- Relationships– This was one of the most amazing parts of my cancer journey. I am beyond words with what this experience has shown me in regards to my relationships. My son, partner, family, friends and strangers. I never imagined that the many people I truly love and care about would be so supportive throughout this time. I could not anticipate the out-pour of love I received. I feel closer to the right people in my life now more than ever. I truly understand friendship and love better. I don’t know how to thank everyone that added love and magic to each day. I can tell you I had no expectation of support but I was receptive to any demonstration of love and friendship each day. My relationships are so much more valuable.
- Self Development– I am truly proud of myself during this time. I thank God, the stars, and the universe that my practice for years has been to turn to self development, positive messages, thought leaders and education in times of turmoil. This journey was no different. My difficult moments were treated with the best thought leaders and inspirational messages. I exercised the parts of my body that would help me beat my cancer and enrich my days. We are so fortunate to live in a time where we can connect in an instant to positive forces. This practice of taking each moment of each day, and controlling my development within it, was critical to being in harmony with myself. It gave me the peace and joy I needed to know that I was not only ‘talking the talk’ about mindset, I was ‘walking the walk’. I have firsthand accountability that how we develop ourselves daily through our struggle is the life force that builds our best moments. I am certain without sight and in complete faith that these moments spent developing myself throughout this time will manifest in an amazing life. I used this time to dream purposefully. I focused on books and educational material. I loved. I discovered such amazing Youtube channels and content that helped me spiritually and developmentally. Don’t take anything that can grow you for granted. Focus on watching, hearing and absorbing as much of what you love and interests you as possible.
- Wigs, Eyelashes, Make up – Creative Manifestation as I like to call it. Some people knit, read or go on vacation as forms of therapy. I lost all my hair, and although I don’t consider myself superficially vain, it was tough to watch everything I liked on my exterior deteriorate. I didn’t want to focus on what I could not control. I did, however, create my own form of therapy at home by learning how to make wigs and put my best face on every day. There was not a day in the hospital that I did not make myself get up, shower, and make myself up. I didn’t do it for anyone’s opinion of me. I definitely did not do it thinking I was going to look beautiful in anyone’s eyes. I did it for me. I have always enjoyed looking my best for myself and I was not going to allow Cancer to take that self pride away from me. I already felt beautiful on the inside and I knew that would reflect on my exterior. I just needed to look at myself and know I powered through every day glowing as well from the outside. For me my beautiful wigs, lipgloss, bronzer, and blush did that. The continuation of this self-care gave me a sense of power and control that I refused to feel like cancer could take away. It did not make me feel more beautiful, It just gave my soul that kind of glow that could only be seen worn on my outside.
- Exercise– This was the ultimate challenge. The Universe knows when you go through this, the last thing you can think of is a bikini body or being in the best shape. Exercise for me was a challenge. I wanted to focus on my body not for the looks but for the strength. I believe healing involves a holistic approach and even your physical strength and health are critical to healing. I was blessed that I was in good physical shape and conditioning when I was diagnosed with cancer, and I do strongly believe it got me through the first few months with the most strength possible. As the treatments progressed I could feel my body breaking down and my physical strength atrophy to the point of exhaustion from any exertion. This was so hard, being a person who was so fast paced and independent. I also was not in the condition after treatments to be in public places, so no gyms. Going and exerting any force outside of a safe place like my home felt like a nonnegotiable and avoidable risk. I focused on what I could control and that was myself in my living space, and I did all I could to maximize that opportunity. I bought an inexpensive small exercise bike from QVC. I had YouTube for Yoga and meditation, and on the days I felt a bit more energy I had my Beach Body on demand program where modifying the modifier was my only way of even fathoming working out to a video. With the countless medication, steroids, side effects, and chemical anxiety this was in no way easy. Honestly it was one of the hardest things I faced. But in looking back at my determination to do the most I could, I feel that it is helping me in recovering. Even if the most you can do is take a walk for a few minutes, as a good friend of mine always reminds me, Mind over Matter, do your best mentally to control the impact on your strength and your body.
- Medical Marijuana– Yes. I am a Legal Medical Marijuana user. Just to be clear, I do believe you can use natural medicine, and I wanted as much as I could, to hedge the medication being given to me by substituting what I could with natural remedies. Thank God for the introduction from a close friend to an amazing company called Fluent (previously known as Knox) and for information on the benefits of MM and CBD oil! CBD was a miraculous remedy for my stomach, my bone pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia and my mouth sores. Chemotherapy causes a myriad of side effects and having the option of using natural high grade remedies that had therapeutic and medicinal effect, in addition to properties that were preventing not causing more damage to my mind and body felt beyond comforting. Everyone, and I mean everyone should be using medicinal CBD!!!!
- Opportunity to take adversity and turn it into magic– I truly understand and I don’t want to undermine the challenge and fear that can accompany being diagnosed with cancer. Whether terminal or curable, it is a time in your life that you will face the uncomfortable reality and frailty of our physical beings, and ultimately our mortality. Having stated the obvious, now we can focus on the more important opportunity that is just as present, the opportunity to extract the magic, lessons, and blessings that can come with going through this experience. I made a very conscious decision early on that I was going to find magic in each day and I can honestly say that this mindset made my cancer journey one that I can not regret. I have grown so much as a person and I feel so blessed to look back in retrospect and have truly found gratitude, hope and unforgettable moments that will define this experience for the rest of my life. I met amazing people. My family and friends exceeded any expectation of support I could have had. I learned new skills, I listened to amazing audio books, practiced yoga, meditated and so much more. If life is about being present and enjoying the moment, I can honestly say I was truly able to focus and enjoy that time just by shifting my focus to finding that magic.
- Inspire by default or on purpose- Someone is watching, kids, friends… and people you know,so don’t take for granted that your journey might be a story of pure strength and magic for someone else. Your strength will never go unnoticed.
“Mindset doesn’t support your life… it is the foundation of everything we need to build the life we dream of, regardless of the challenges it gives us. Together in Growth and Strength.”