Resonating with “Survivorship” (3 of 4)

I received the call from my doctor announcing my diagnosis on October 13, 2009. October happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness month. A coincidence? Perhaps not, but we’ll save that for another conversation. Needless to say the trips to doctor appointments, tests, and some shopping to prepare for what was ahead was not short of the Pink Ribbon. It was everywhere I had never seen it before! Was it always there in such magnitude and now I was just more sensitive and aware? Either way, I wasn’t very happy about it. I found myself questioning the relevance of the ribbon, companies that “supported” the pink ribbon campaign, and wondered what the pink ribbon would do for me. And then, even more poignantly came the notion of “Survivor”. What makes me a survivor? How would I be different from the person who “survived” a heart attack, or a stroke? And since I was on the topic why was cancer given the connotation of “fighting”? Fighting sounded negative and combative, was that the energy with which I wanted to walk into this experience? So I pondered it, as I had been questioning many things, for some time.

What I’ve come to conclude is that perhaps being a Survivor has less to do with outliving cancer and more to do with being Resilient. If to survive is to persevere, then I think we’ve all done a phenomenal job of being a SURVIVOR. We’ve survived chemotherapy and radiation treatments however daunting they were, we managed the many and painful side effects, we tolerated conversations however annoying and frustrating they seemed at the time, we embraced the physical changes our body underwent, we witnessed the strengthening, and sometimes weakening, of our relationships.

We are surviving each step in this journey and that is something to acknowledge and recognize. And the “fight”? Well it’s an internal one, the fight with myself. And this is a “battle” that I work on everyday. The fight to not resist my pain but allow myself to feel it, to express it, to endure it. The fight with my state of mind, the thoughts that have the potential to take me to sad and dark places, the emotions that could overcome me if I didn’t create a space to feel them.So for many months, perhaps years, in my cancer experience, I survived.

Today, I am a THRIVER! I am creating new habits, making different choices and decisions to create more of what I want my life to look like. I’m sharing the story of my survival and I hope it reassures you that you’re surviving too! I”m celebrating who I am and where I’ve been. As a SURVIVOR (wherever you are in the experience) you should celebrate too!

Join me on my next wellness retreat adventure in Mexico! (Email me at Lucy.santoro08@gmail.com for details)

Written by: Lucy, Tigerlily ANGEL Advocate