Can we find empowerment through breast cancer?
There is a lot of fellowship among breast cancer survivors. People tell breast cancer personal stories, go on breast cancer walks and join breast cancer support groups in order to be closer to other survivors, as well as, thrivors – that’s thriving breast cancer survivors – of which I am blessed to be!
Being close to other breast cancer survivors/thrivors prevents the loneliness many women feel who have had, or have breast cancer. And women can learn a lot about breast cancer from hearing breast cancer personal stories.
Please keep this Essential in mind as you read on:
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties in life is facing one’s own mortality. The incidence of breast cancer, as well as living with breast cancer, and the uncertainty of its outcome can be a time of emotional, physical, and spiritual upheaval in one’s life. It is often said that with great difficulties comes personal growth. This personal growth and strength can also bring a sense of accomplishment: “I made it, I finished my chemotherapy and radiation treatments and I am here to talk about it.” You reflect on what you have learned. I sure did! The breast cancer experience brought me to another place that I just had not encountered in normal everyday life. It is an experience that stands alone and is set apart from everything else that has ever happened to me.
Often others will say how much they admire you for the strength you showed in coping with breast cancer. Accept and be proud of not only getting through breast cancer treatments but also for the wisdom the experience has taught you. You are now in a position to give back and it will feel good. You can choose to empower others, share what worked for you during your breast cancer treatment, and offer encouragement to someone who has been newly diagnosed. Empowerment knows that no matter what situation you are in that there is always something positive you can do.
Given choices, no one chooses to grow by facing life’s difficulties, but this is how empowerment begins, and together with personal growth, you emerge as a person with courage, empowered to be your true self.
Feeling empowered is subjective and varies from individual to individual. But the universal truth of empowerment comes from the knowledge that you have options and control over your choices, the ability to make those choices, and the responsibility for the choices you make.
Empowerment is that feeling and conviction that comes from having gone through a difficult situation and successfully made it through. Capturing your “new normal” is taking that newly empowered self and using it to form a new and improved you. The way you viewed yourself in the world and how you filled your days prior to having breast cancer will take on new meaning. Your perspective may not change at all, but for most women living with breast cancer, the experience enriches their lives and takes life down a new path. Finding empowerment no matter what stage of breast cancer treatment you are in, regardless of what season of life you are experiencing, is about using it to create a “new normal” for yourself.
As a significant aside, please know that women are natural attractors. Yet due to cultural programming, many women have lost their way, and we end up approaching work like a man. The masculine program is all about goal-setting and goal-getting; this rarely works for women in the long-term. Instead, women must fill our cup first with what makes us come alive, and be immersed in a community of support, adventure, and inspiration. And then, we blossom and attract!
The Dalai Lama said that the world will be saved by Western Women. I happen to think he was right.
As a coach who has worked closely with women for over a decade, I find that deep down, women naturally desire to create work that makes a difference in the world. The most important thing we can do is to discover and pursue work we love. This is essential for our happiness, for our health and well-being!
Human nature, for many reasons, focuses on living. People are busy making plans, setting financial goals, establishing career moves, building a family life, and not dwelling on the end. Often much time is wasted on unimportant things that are valued at a particular moment or time in your life. Having breast cancer brings your mortality to the forefront. What your beliefs have been before now may be questioned as the reality sets in that our life on earth is only temporary.
Life is meant to be lived. You are a unique partner in life, with purpose and meaning to your existence! So why not live it with a participatory viewpoint? I truly believe it is easier to prioritize the important things, experiences, and people in your life when you have dealt firsthand with breast cancer. You can choose to waste less time or waste more time. Spend less time at non-purpose and non-meaning work and experiences, and more time enjoying your family and friends, nature, and that which Truly Makes your Tail Wag.
Here’s yet another Essential to ponder…
Living with the end in mind is one way to participate in your life with a zest, awareness, and appreciation that may go unnoticed prior to having breast cancer. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a gift in itself, but the wisdom that comes from the experience is a gift that can enrich and fulfill your life. Trust and believe -I know, as I often referred to my own diagnosis of breast cancer as, ”Not the best news, but not the worse news either.” Life is meant to be lived with the thought that ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal — You only have one chance at it….and, yes…The Show must go on!’
Once you have come face to face with your mortality, then you can truly live. In that spirit, Debbie Mazza-Taylor, who lost her five-year experience with breast cancer just days before her forty-first birthday, wrote this poem:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind?
And to melt into the sun. And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand seeking God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop then you shall begin to climb.
And when earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
To Our Health & Empowerment Together!
With Love & Blessings!
“There is a mighty Power within you. There is that Spirit of Life, Light, and Love. The more you feast on these ideas and fast from old corrosive ones, the closer you experience the Life you desire.”
-Frank Richelieu, The Art of Being Yourself
Rhonda M. Farrah, MA, DRWA
The Wellness Institute International
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