As many of my breast cancer sisters can attest, the experience of going through treatment has many ups and downs. On one hand, it can show you the unbelievable strength and courage you innately have to face such a scary disease. On the other hand, it is taxing to undergo treatment that will test your limits.
Time and time again, I heard people wonder how it was possible for me to face cancer and to be handling it so well, another common theme among cancer patients. The long and short of it is- there is no other option. When you are diagnosed with cancer, your feet are held to the fire. So you wake up every day and figure out what it is you need to get through it.
I must admit a part of what kept me going on was a deep reserve of resiliency that I have fostered through the many obstacles I have faced in this life. Resiliency and a good helping of stubbornness- a desire to not let cancer beat me. After all, I had my kids to think about and while they certainly saw me cry in the hard moments, I also wanted to make sure that they saw how I was choosing to live every moment to the best of my capacity.
After hearing the recommendations to exercise to my tolerance during chemo, I was really thankful that I would not have to say goodbye to Zumba and “hot, sweaty” yoga. I approached each dance step and each session on the mat with the same question, “Can I try?” And more often than not, the answer was a resounding YES. I certainly was a lot slower on the dance floor and spent more time in child’s pose than my pre-cancer self, but I found a new appreciation for my body and a new way of respectfully relating to it. My body was willing to give me the pleasure of movement as long as I was thoughtful of its limitations, given the nature of the treatment we underwent together.
So, no matter what you are trying to overcome, ask yourself- what is possible today? If you stay in present, checking in with how you truly are feeling in the moment, more likely than not you will surprise yourself. After all, when we approach life with a curious frame of mind, we are likely to keep our options open.
– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions in person or via Skype, as well as workshops and this weekly blog. Please visit our website to learn more: www.creative-transformations.com.