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After receiving my diagnosis and trying to figure out how to make sense of my situation, a friend suggested, "Cancer is the transformation your soul has been pulling for." I'd have to say, I agree. I was in a pretty bad place [mentally] about a year or two before my diagnosis. I'm convinced that stress activated the disease within me. But this disease has also been the catalyst for so much growth. Call me crazy, but I think this cancer thing is part of an intelligent plan. I feel like whatever is out there, be it "God "or "The Universe" or whatever you call it; I think it prepared me for this journey.
A few months before my diagnosis, I started reading a lot about spirituality, and I began meditating. A friend of mine also found out she had breast cancer and when I visited her, something in my heart knew there was cancer in me too. I really can't explain it; intuition is a crazy thing sometimes. So, when I got "the call," I was surprisingly calm. The doctor called me on a Sunday afternoon, he apologized and told me it was cancer. I honestly think that moment was harder for him than it was for me. But, it was one of the strangest feelings I've ever felt. It was almost like I'd entered an alternate universe. I was sitting on my bed, a familiar place, but everything was suddenly different. I wasn't sure what to do or how to respond. I didn't cry; but, I wondered if I should. I wondered if there was a certain way I was supposed to react. For about two or three months after, there was this constant voice in my head; it kept repeating "You have cancer." It just played in the background, the way a song does when it gets stuck in your head. At first, I didn't know if I should share my diagnosis. I knew there'd be people with opinions about how I should handle the situation. And, there were. Some criticized my decision to go through with chemotherapy and surgery. I got messages suggesting all sorts of things; so many I could write a few pages on that alone. But, sharing my diagnosis was probably one of the best things I could've done. I've received so much support. Support has come from people and places I never expected. And the love continues to pour in even after almost a year. People tell me I'm inspiring because I've kept a positive attitude through all of this. But, it's the people that have inspired me and kept me going.
It's a lot to take in- you lose parts of your body: your breasts, your hair. It turns out I carry the BRCA2 gene, so I will need to remove my ovaries soon, too. The chemotherapy made me sick at first, and now it makes me tired. I try my best to "go, go, go," because I don't want to feel like I'm not contributing to the world. But, after a while all that "going" makes me crash. At times, I get so tired that I feel like I might throw up if I don't close my eyes. My toenails are a weird color and every time I look at them I feel like they should belong to a man with bad nutrition, not me. I have hot flashes because I'm experiencing "temporary menopause." I'm 36, so I joke that this is "practice" for when the "real change" comes- I'll be a pro. My hormones were a mess for a while and I cried randomly for no reason. Oh yeah, and I have a prosthetic breast for now. Sometimes I forget it at home, and my chest is lopsided. (Yes, there is some comedy to all of this, if you can laugh at yourself.) They're going to remove my other breast in a few months, and then I'll get new ones; but, I hear that reconstruction is no cake walk. I have a strict doctor and will be on bed rest for six weeks. I could go on and on about all the craziness. This journey has not been easy, but I'd have to say that even though I'm a bit disfigured, I don't know if my heart has ever been happier. Meditation quiets my mind; but, it's the people that light up my spirit. I can't believe all these people are cheering me on! I've even made friends with girls on the internet, going through the same thing as me. It's been a lot of fun supporting each other. I especially don't know what I'd do without my friend Robin, who was diagnosed just before me. I don't know if I'd be this strong if she hadn't been so brave. She's been like a big sister- experiencing everything before me. Teaching me the ropes. This mind is not the same mind it was a few years ago. So, yes. I do believe that cancer was the transformation my soul had been pulling for after all.
Submitted by: Nui Browning
You can continue to follow Nui's ongoing journey with breast cancer on her blog The Pink Plumeria Diary.