Is awareness a way we manage our fears, a consciousness we live with, or is it simply a love for self ?
Breast Cancer Awareness month in public consciousness means to go get your mammogram, check in with your doctor, and make sure you are ok. And I agree you need to know if you are ok, early detection is important. I do however also encourage that you have a routine of checking your breasts yourself every month.
That said, in my consciousness, Breast Cancer Awareness means to re-evaluate what I do for me on my own path to prevent breast cancer. Awareness encourages us to take part and I do believe it is important to do so! Fear might be what calls your awareness into action, but my intention here is to inspire your care and love for yourself to be the foundation and what let’s you embrace who you are, what you want for you, and how you want to live your life. This here is my story about how I got here…you have yours and you need to honor it as such.
I am very high risk of breast cancer – because of my family history…That is the official starting point.
If I were to listen to the doctors and follow their advise, I would already be on chemo as a preventive measure, and they would be checking my genes and probably already have taken out my ovaries, just to be sure, as they said.
This is all because I am considered so high risk that “for sure” I will get it,- they say. I am high risk because every woman in my linage has had breast cancer, and more than once, my mom had it 3 times. So does that make me doomed? According to my doctors; yes. I had a small “something” at some point 2 years ago, and the radiologist told me she was sure it was cancer even though it did not look like it on the sonogram, nor felt like it. Still she was sure, because of my history. Now wait a minute…what about my history? And that is my point here. What happened to my own part in this? I asked them if they even considered the way I had eaten and lived my life for the past 20 years, and…the answer was no. They say it does not matter?! Then how come those who research disease and genes say that we might turn those “bad genes” on, we might not. That it does depend on how we live and eat!
Maybe you are in the same category as I am, maybe you are concerned as many women are, or maybe you have already been diagnosed, past treatment, considered a survivor…either way, we can be part of your own journey to health. It does matter what you eat, it does matter how you treat and care for yourself, and it does matter how you cope with stressors and emotional “stuff” in your life!
WE can make a difference. There are no promises of course, even though we hope for it and even depend on it, nothing in life comes with a guarantee. I myself am very aware of that too, but we do have a part in this. If we did not, then why do our bodies develop cancer to begin with? I know this is a tough question to face, but if we can gently look at how we live our life and take care of ourselves we can start looking at the patterns with which we live our lives. Cancer might feel as if it is something that comes flying through the air and hits us on the head, but it is not. It develops within us over time. So if we are the ones developing cancer, then why would we not also be part of the healing process and participate in the prevention of it as well?
Since I am sharing some of my story and path with you here…maybe you want to share yours as well here on the blog, maybe it will inspire you to do something for you, or maybe it will give you ideas to help you help, nourish, and lovingly care for yourself.
I do want to say that my being high risk of breast cancer became what changed my life; to the better. Even the losses of loved ones, both family members including my mother, and clients who have come to see me during their own struggles, have been gifts to me and worth the grief.
So what is prevention of breast cancer? It is a healing journey!!
If I had not decided to figure out what causes breast cancer or increases the risk, I would not have embarked on my own healing journey back 20 or so years ago. And I am still on it! Actually I will always be on it. Healing is to get to know myself more and more, being able to listen to both myself, and others more and more. To be able to see myself for whom I really am, the “good and the not so good” included, and embrace all of it.
The greatest challenge for me has been to learn to appreciate my vulnerability.
Maybe because of being an only child and always being teased in school for being too sensitive, I toughened up. I ended up playing with the boys, since the girls were too mean, and I became quite the tomboy and my coping skills were to hide my emotions. Through the years of my mother’s struggle with bi-polar disorder I learned how to take care of myself emotionally, and when both my parents died 1 year apart, shortly after a divorce, I knew I had some healing to do.
There are many stories of this kind, but it is not really important why I learned to cope in this way, it is more important that I embarked on my journey of learning to wake up from this coping mechanism and how it was affecting me. My healing process has been filled with personal growth, searching within myself, digging out the hidden “stuff”, and on top of that a lot of fear of being alone in the world, feeling like an orphan since my parents deaths, knowing I now had to figure it all out on my own. So do I want to add the fear of cancer on top of that? NO!
My concerns have long included wondering if I can take care of myself, but it becomes on a physical level and that is really not where the healing nor sense of safety lies, is it…? I know very well that many people in my life are ready to be there for me, especially my husband who is always there for me, but it can still be a challenge to let down my guard and allow my vulnerability to guide me. It takes a lot of trust to be vulnerable, not in our own abilities, but in our humanness, which is humble and vulnerable. That is where the healing lies, and the emotional safety that we all crave.
I think many women can relate to what I am saying. We have become quite the achievers us women, haven’t we? And I think it is great! But when it comes to being healthy as a woman, I do believe we need to evaluate and integrate what that really means in these modern times. A great part of our beauty lies in our ability to be vulnerable, receiving, open, and not having to know everything nor have all the answer. For that matter I think men should have that opportunity too.
Another great piece for me on my healing journey has been to learn to listen, especially to myself, and my own needs. Not the needy needs, but the needs of what is important for me to be and do, not just have, and what I appreciate in my life. That also means I had to figure out how to make all that a reality. I have worked for years to create a life where I can integrate what is important for me, and will continue to do so. We tend to be unhappy when we don’t feel nourished and nurtured by life, but we ourselves are responsible for creating the fertile earth for these circumstances to grow.
That might sound like a life lived from my own navel, but it is not, because integrating people into my life is part of how I appreciate living it. The people around me are crucial participant in what gives my life meaning. Of course especially those close to me, like my husband, my friends, but also my clients. I develop a close and trusting relationship with many of my clients. It is important to our growth to have relationships where we can safely dive deeply into the core issues that otherwise trap us in both emotions and actions that keep us from loving ourselves.
I believe that deep healing happens when we learn how to love ourselves again.
I think most of us lost that true and direct connection to self at a very early stage in our childhood and we have adopted all kinds of ways to cope with that since. However, many cope with it by not coping with it. That is where disease starts. That alone is already dis-ease, it is a discomfort with the one we have become, and therefore a displacement of ourselves, until we can find our way to that raw part of ourselves, which is also the vulnerable within us.
Many say that breast cancer becomes their journey to a new relationship with themselves. The reason why I started Path for Life was because I believed and still do, that we can and should find our way to that wonderfully loving relationship with ourselves beforehand.
The greatest gift is…to create an intimate relationship with ourselves. And with that our relationship to others around us become more open, real, and intimate as well.
The greatest obstacle is…that we think others have the answer and we do not. But we do. The journey is to find that within ourselves and trust it when we do. Know what we need to do and be with ourselves and others, so we can live fully nourished.
The greatest discovery is…that we are indeed wonderful, amazing, loving, and lovable beings. Our vulnerability is that this is exactly what we are hoping for and our need is for others to see that too. But we don’t trust it and we have been hurt too many times, so therefore we cover it up by being strong, angry, controlling, or caregiving beyond, and therefore feel we have lost ourselves.
Finding ourselves is an inner journey, which is best travelled in utmost self-care and self-love.
This means kind, gentle, fresh and whole, nourishing foods. Learning how to eat to truly nourish and nurture yourself is important; learning how to love yourself is even more important.
From my perspective, the best prevention for breast cancer is love.
Love what you eat and let your food love you too; but this is the kind of love, where your food makes you feel good, not the kind of love that means indulgences. Those are not true actions of self-love, but rather a love for how something tastes. The balance is to take good loving care of yourself AND make it tasty.
Love what you do, and if you are really unhappy with your job, find a way to work towards something that you will love doing. It might not happen tomorrow, but you can make little changes every day that bring you towards something you do love.
Love the people you surround yourself with, and even those who rub you the wrong way will have something about them you can love because remember, we all want to the same thing…to be loved.
I went on a Buddhist path to find my own. I studied food and nutrition and found a version that is somewhere between macrobiotics, veganism, pescetarianism, and a few other -isms. It does not have to be one answer and it certainly does not help to be rigid either, but it does help to make choices that support your health instead of breast cancer growth. I went from being a competition gymnast to being a yogini. There is no right answer except to move and enjoy it. I lost my family and found a new one, I lost friends and made new ones, I lost careers and create new ones. I embark on new discoveries and endeavors all the time, and some have worked out, some have failed, but I learned a lot from those too.
As this month is marking Breast Cancer Awareness 2012, it is also the year that the Mayan calendar is marking as a turning point, it is now 12 years since my mother died May 30th and my father died 11 years ago November 3rd, it is a few months before I turn 50, it is a turning point indeed, and I am looking forward to it. Not knowing what it will bring I only know that I will be embracing and embarking on yet another era of my life, another manifestation of who I am, what I do with who I am, and I hope to share a lot more of that journey with you.
I have also decided it is time to create an online experience of the Path for Life Program, which has helped so many find their way. Please let me know if you are interested in learning more about joining it, when we go live, or if you know someone who might be interested, let them know to email me via: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best of love, health, joy, and many new discoveries.
Remember that healing is about getting to know yourself more and more, it is not a fix nor a cure, it is a process that hopefully never comes to an end.