When I stop to think of my life and how it seemed at the time of diagnosis I can identify areas where I was unhappy or unsatisfied. I can admit that I was a people pleaser and the “importance” of self-nurturing was at the tail end of this alleged priority list of life. So I know that I was already in a place of questioning my beliefs, curious about the values I held on to and wondering how I could shift things a bit to make improvements. But what if that’s not the case? What if you’re happy with your life, content with the routine and relationships, going about your business and a diagnosis comes seemingly out of nowhere?
Well, I think something like cancer is one of those occasions in life that forces us to look candidly in the mirror. Can we see our way from outside in? How does the reflection make us feel? If the inside of us were visible on the outside of us for all to witness, what would that image include? Cancer was an opportunity for me to stretch myself beyond what I knew, outside of what was comfortable. Was I really fulfilled in that friendship? Had I reached my full career potential? Were my spiritual beliefs based on someone else’s learnings or was the conviction strong enough on my own? Did I know enough about other people, cultures, beliefs to have a well-rounded perspective or was I afraid of what I didn’t know? Were the plans or goals I had for my life based on my own authentic view of who I was and what I wanted or did I easily buy into societal pressures without question? At any given point I seemed to have had more questions than answers and so I kept asking.
I continued to dig deep to explore what possible answers were hidden within ME. I participated in a healing journey workshop series offered at a cancer support centre near home and was fully engaged in the practice, the reading and the discussions. I continued reading books that weren’t previously on my reading list, I engaged in conversations with friends who could support my curiosity, and really I just sat with it. I sat with the “junk” of questions in my head, the emotions of all these new unknowns, the uncertainty of what was meant for my life and the wonder of how I would ever feel like ME again.
It certainly has become a lifelong experience. Along the way, I made decisions about my body that would change my “plan” to have children, I was drawn more to spirituality than to the religion I had been raised knowing, I let go of friendships I thought I wanted, that I longed for during treatment, and tried to embrace some solitude. I engaged in the practices of meditation, journaling, reiki that more and more become the “remedies” I turn to when I’m feeling off balance. I continue to be curious and seek to explore answers in conversations, in reading and really just listening to myself I think the gift of curiosity, the gift of question and conversation, the gift of learning, and shifting perspective is meant to be explored.
So why not now?
Written by: Lucy Santoro, Tigerlily ANGEL Advocate