It’s in the water.
These four words took my breath away.
She typed them after telling me that she, too, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
This can’t be happening, I thought. But it was. I took a deep breath and thought about my response. All the things people said me flashed through my head and I searched for the right words. My first instinct was to say “Mother fucker!” but I didn’t.
Instead I said, and truly meant, “Just keep breathing”.
In my head, I flashed back to hearing my own news—You. Have. Cancer.—and the hours I spent in the bathtub just trying to process what that meant.
“Just keep breathing.” I told myself a thousand times over the last 6 months.
“Just keep breathing,” I said to myself the day of my biopsy. Dr. Jenny was talking: “Look at me,” she said sternly, but with kindness. “You need to know that nothing you did caused this!” She said it a couple of times until she saw that it sunk in between my tears. I held on to those words. Nothing I did caused this. I believe that.
I did not cause my cancer.
Or did I?
You see, I am one of the “Driven Crew”. The kind of woman who makes change. Over the last few years, I’ve made huge changes—all for the good. But those changes can’t change all those years I spent being lost on busy, avoiding my feelings, ignoring the grief I carried inside me, locking my emotions down, doing more and more just to keep going. They cannot erase the years of putting myself on the bottom of the priority list. The reality is you can only sweep elephants under rugs for so long before something gives.
When I am speaking to crowds, I ask this question: “When will you stop and ask yourself what is the cost to you for all that you do for others?” Because there is a cost—physically, mentally, emotionally and maybe even financially.
I actually have “At what cost to me?” tattooed on my arm. A reminder to consider the cost to me before I say Yes. When cancer showed up, it hit me profoundly: There is a cost and my cost was releasing my left breast to have the cancer out of my body.
I created an environment that allowed this cancer in—not consciously of course. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but cancer showed up as a result of all those years of mistreating myself.
I want to be clear: I do not think we cause our own cancer. I do not think we make it happen. I do, however, think that the way we go through life can allow space for bad things to happen and in my case that bad thing was Breast Cancer.
A friend of mine had tonsil cancer. Could it have been from years of suppressing her voice?
The reality is when you don’t deal with your shit things happen. I shutter to think what my journey would be like if I hadn’t made the changes I did over the last couple of years.
So to my “driven crew”: We will not give up who we are or what we want. We will, however, STOP, take a breath, and start doing it differently! Please. You know deep down that this is NOT working. Now, it’s time. I don’t want you to ever be sitting in the doctor’s office alone and hear the words “you have cancer.”