Have You Ever Asked, 'WHY'?

Recently, I started asking myself, WHY did I get cancer? As if the universe was putting me in a ‘cancer class,’ and I had to write my final report about it. Why did I get cancer and not my sister? Have you ever asked yourself, why? Why did you get cancer? Why did someone you love get cancer? Why did someone you know die from cancer? Just, WHY?

My sister Caryn and me

My sister Caryn and me

Well, I’ve been struggling answering that question for myself. I know cancer is a ‘disease’, but what exactly is disease?  If you break it down, it would be dis-ease…something that’s ‘not at ease’ within us, within me, within you.  It doesn’t need to be judged, and it might have been brewing since childhood, or even something passed down from my ancestors, but I see it as something that needs to be healed, and it chose ME, it chose YOU, to heal it.  WE are the lucky ones!

So, why did I get cancer?  Of course, it depends on who you ask.  If you ask my doctors, they might say, because I had the BRCA 1 gene, and the odds of me getting cancer were like 60% by the time I turned 60.  But I got cancer in my 40’s, so why then?  I went through a lot of IVF trying to get pregnant, that could have made it come sooner, but doctors also said that if I DID get pregnant when I was trying, the pregnancy would have killed me, making the cancer spread uncontrollably. Crazy right? Cancer saved my life if I look at it that way…I think all of these reasons are valid, but I also have another theory to add to it all, and whether it’s true or not, it’s the story that resonates most with me, the story I wish to tell, and the story that is my truth.

If you ask me, I would say I got cancer, stage 4 mind you (the universe knows how stubborn I am, and stage 1 or 2 wouldn’t have done much!), to teach me how to love myself, to teach me how to appreciate everything I have in my life, AND, to stop comparing my life to others.  To feel GOOD about myself, with all my failures, missed opportunities, AND with all my successes and experiences.  I didn’t have children in this life, and I really wanted some.  Of course, I can adopt one, but part of me feels too old to do so, and part of me feels like I have too many other things to pursue, too many other dreams to fulfill, and I want to go for them all.  Also, my husband is 16 years older than I am, so it seems selfish of me, of us, to take on a child at our age, but that’s it.  SO, I put that dream to rest, or should I say, cancer put that dream to rest, and maybe one of the reasons cancer came to me… to let go of having a child.  SO be it.

Also, cancer showed me what’s most important in my life.  I mean, I knew what was most important in my mind, but NOW, my whole being knows. And, my #1 thing is health, the MOST important thing, because without it, I couldn’t be free.  SO, now that I’m 100% healthy and cancer free, I can have a ‘bad day’, or a failed dream, or an empty bank account, and still be okay, really okay, because I have my health.  Period.

Cancer also taught me one thing that I kinda knew about myself, but now I REALLY know it… I am a really strong person, and when I set my mind to something, I am a force that can pretty much accomplish whatever I want.  And I am very grateful for my strength and tenacity, to be physically blessed with a strong immune system.  I mean, my immune system was strong even on chemo!  I remember being told, don’t be around crowds, don’t go to events where there’s a lot of people, all that stuff… I remember my family, even my husband, getting colds, some got the flu, and I never got anything!  And I was teaching all my yoga clients as I went through chemo, they would get sick, they would have to cancel, but I never got sick…so yes, my immune system is pretty freakin strong!

But other than health, my lessons were mostly about the importance of LOVE, being around love, doing the things I love, being able to receive love from others, appreciating love from friends and family, and not wasting time being around people or activities that don’t bring a sense of peace, or love.  Of course, we all need to do errands, or clean toilets, or go to events for others, or see a movie that your friend wants to see and you don’t, or change a diaper when you rather be sipping a margarita… that’s all normal ‘non fun’ stuff…but it’s important to be conscious and aware of how you are spending your time, who you are spending your time with, and what you’re giving your time to, because time goes pretty fast, and doing things that don’t bring us joy seems like a waste of time, no?  I mean, I can break it down like this… activities that bring more stress, more fatigue, more depression, more anger, more resentment, they are probably things you don’t love, or things that are unhealthy.… when we’re doing things we love, it can only make us happier, more joyful, and in turn, make us happier and more joyful to be around for others.

Lastly, one HUGE reason, I believe, I got cancer, was to develop Zero Negative, and be able to help the world in the way I’ve always wanted to help the world.  I have a message to give, one that I lived through and one that helped me, so I know it can help others. I was used in a way, used by the universe, to help shift the world, our perspective of how we live, of how we treat others…and the universe gifted me cancer to put me on this path.  It’s such a big task, one that I had to go through many doors to receive all the lessons, all the guidance, and now that I’ve passed a lot of the necessary tests, now I walk forward with Zero Negative, not knowing exactly how its going to work out, but knowing what I want to say, and it’s purpose.

And one more thing, I guess I can’t talking about how amazing cancer is?!  I might sound like a freak, but I am talking truth right now!  Cancer taught me that I need to be good to myself. Period, most important thing.  We need to love ourselves first and foremost, and then go out and love others.  If I don’t love myself, how can I expect someone else to love me?  And that’s usually what we go after, someone to love us and give us love because we don’t have it for ourselves.  But that puts us in a very ‘ungrounded’’ place, when we NEED that person to love us, when we’re not picky about who love us…that’s when we stay with people who don’t treat us the way we deserve. 

Anyway, I could ramble on and on about love, but I’ll end with this…funny, but I think cancer made me human.  Brought me back to who I really am, and made me aware of who we really are as humans. Brought me back to what’s important in life (to me), and how to appreciate and be grateful for it.  If I were to die tomorrow, I would be happy with everything that I have learned this lifetime…I would be bummed that I didn’t get to live another 50 years, knowing what I know now, but at least I would know I’m okay with how my life turned out.  SO, how can I NOT be thankful for cancer? 

And ultimately, it doesn’t really matter WHY, but it matters how we choose to deal with it. I dealt with my cancer with Love, Understanding, Appreciation, and Acceptance, believing it was here to help me grow. And I DID grow, a lot. Which makes me feel like I understand how to ‘get through things’ a little better, and that the stories we tell ourselves have a lot of power in them! SO, I’m choosing to view cancer as one of the best things to have happened to me thus far. My story, my perception, and my truth. So be it!

How do you perceive your cancer? Lemme know!

Jenn




Life AFTER Cancer...The New Normal

So, it hasn’t even been a year since I’ve graduated into the ‘cancer-free’ world, so I KNOW, without question, this might not be my WHOLE life after cancer, it’s just my life right now… after cancer.

The first thing that is completely different than I was BEFORE cancer, is that I was never sick,  and I never even worried about being sick.  If something hurt, well it would eventually go away.  I went to all of my yearly doctor visits, so I wasn’t ignoring anything, but it was just something I never worried about.  Cut to, now… EVERY thing that hurts, or feels weird, or LOOKS weird, like a muscle cramp, a swollen gland, a freckle I haven’t noticed, a pain in my hip, etc, I immediately think…CANCER ?!?!  And even if NOTHING feels ‘off’, I still live with this cancer ghost behind me, watching my every move, wondering if it wants to come back or leave me alone.

Whenever I am in a Doctors office which is almost weekly,  I am not shy to ask about certain things that feel weird…most doctors kind of smile because of the absurdity of thinking it’s cancer, but I am able to get an ‘absolutely not’ from them which is ALL I need.  But here’s my dilemma right now, and please let me know if you’re a survivor and feel the same… I am worried about my worries… because I don’t want to be the one person manifesting my cancer to come back!  I am miss positive, taking a negative and turning it into a positive, making this trauma in my life become a blessing, and it has become a blessing in so many ways, and I am the one who manifested that… so I don’t want to be the one who worries about cancer coming back, and then one day, yikes, the cancer is back…even writing it down scares me a little bit, so I’ll stop right here.  My worries are my worries, and I am sure they are normal to a degree.  I know that my doctors are watching me very closely for 5 years, and if my cancer doesn’t come back in 5 years, then it’s NEVER coming back.  So be it.  My worries are just in my head and have no way of making anything happen.  But this is part of my life AFTER cancer.

The second thing about life now, very different than before, is that I am very aware of death now.  I came so close to death with my diagnosis, which was the last thing I would have ever thought would happen to me… and now, after living through it, I just feel so much more vulnerable to the world and to life and to the universe, that I can’t control anything, and death is somewhere out there, just waiting for me.  It does create some positive actions, however, because I really do take every day more seriously than I used to, which is both bad and good.  It’s great when you make the most out of your days, and feel happy to be alive.  It’s hard, however, when you put a lot of pressure on yourself to make the day great, and as we all know, not every day can be great, so a bad day sometimes becomes a VERY bad day, just because it’s bad.  But then on the opposite side, sometimes I feel blessed to just be alive and have bad days, because being dead would allow that !  So I guess life after cancer is a little bit confusing!

The third thing about life after cancer is that no matter who I’m talking to, cancer becomes the main part of the conversation.  Not so much with close friends and family, but every one else that I run into, it’s always about cancer.  How I’m feeling, what was chemo like, how scary it must have been, etc…And part of me loves talking about it, because I had a pretty special story come out of it, and I love sharing it.  It also makes me feel proud of myself, talking about what I went through and where I ended up.  The downside is that it’s starting to become part of my identity, which I feel weird about embracing.  Yes, it’s a fact, I AM a cancer survivor, and will always be one for the rest of my life.  But, I am so many other things that are getting pushed away because cancer wants to take main stage.  I’m assuming it’s because I’m so freshly out of the battle.  Maybe, in a couple of years, it will move to the back burner.  But as of now, my identity feels as if I am a cancer survivor and nothing else.  I guess it could be worse, meaning I could be a cancer victim, or someone living with cancer, both of which I definitely do NOT want to be.

Anyway, I guess I am just trying to figure out what life is AFTER cancer.  And I can only know what I am experiencing at the moment.  And it’s weird to feel ‘fine’ and ‘boring’ when just 6 months ago I was fighting for my life, I was in a war, I was engulfed in something that was all consuming, and now life isn’t so dramatic anymore.   My husband fights with me now, doesn't think about the fact that I almost died… it’s like everything is back to normal, except me.  I feel I’m the same person, yet I’m not the same person. I feel differently about things.  Sometimes I feel others don’t get me as much as before.  I don’t want drama in my life, and I see some people fighting over stupid things and I think, how crazy it is to waste so much energy on nothing that really matters in the big picture.  I get annoyed at petty conversations.  I don’t like hearing others beat themselves up about how they look.  And, I don’t want anything in my life that isn't anything but LOVE.  Love, to me,  is the most healing of all things, it’s so amazing, and so worth it.  Which is why I have become so passionate about Zero Negative and Love.

Anyway, I’m still very positive in general, even when I worry about cancer.  I know deep down, the cancer isn’t coming back.  And I know deep down, the universe has my back.  There is a quote that I love, and it feels like a good ending to this blog…  

‘Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay.  Rather it is knowing that YOU will   be okay, no matter how things turn out.’ 

xoxoxo Jenn

Dreams

"Sometimes you don't realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness."

                                             ...Susan Gale

 

 

 

Last night I had my first ‘cancer nightmare’.  Surprised I never had one until now.  It's been over a year since being diagnosed, and not one cancer nightmare?  Hmmmmm, I guess I should be grateful.  Either way, as scary as it was, I think I learned a big lesson from it.

So, in the dream I was going to the doctor to have a check up.  Then, without any explanation, they said I needed to have some more chemo.  The chemo was in the form of a pill I was supposed to take.  AND, I was supposed to schedule a throat/esophagus surgery the next day, because since my cancer was stage 4, there was a very high chance that is was going to go into my throat and esophagus, so I needed to take them out.   The procedure would be long, and I was told that after a lot of physical therapy, I still might slur my words, or lose my voice. Needless to say, I was so upset!  Angry in fact!  I wanted to talk to my oncologist, where was he? I was so livid that this wasn’t explained to me on day 1.  I felt like I was being raped in a way, and I couldn't understand why.

I remember, in the dream, I had all of my hair back, and I was about to take a pill that would take my hair away.  That alone was so upsetting.  Such a defeat.  All this time I spent recovering, only to be wiped away by one pill.  I remember yelling at my husband in the dream, ‘there’s no f’’’’’cking way I’m doing a surgery without knowing anything about it'.  The doctor, I felt, gave me no answers on why I needed it other than preventative surgery, and he didn’t even know what type of cancer I had.  He didn't KNOW me, and he didn't care.

So, in the dream, I decided to do my own research, and I emailed Shannon Doherty (apparently we had run in to each other at some party and discussed cancer and exchanged numbers and emails... funny how intricate dreams can be).  So, I emailed her, I remember thinking she had a really cute email font.  I asked her if she had to have throat surgery and what it was all about.  She emailed back right away, which I thought was cool and strange at the same time.  She said YES, she did have the throat surgery.  AND, coincidentally, she was sitting with her doctor who operated on her, and would I like to come meet up with them. 

WOW, I thought, this must be a blessing??  So, I met up with her and her doctor, he was from NYC, and in Los Angeles 3 months out of the year.  He said he could do my surgery.  I asked him all my questions.  Why do I need to remove my throat it if I only had breast cancer?  Is there a chance I lose my voice?  Is there a chance I will get throat cancer if I do NOT do the surgery?  How long can I wait until I have to get the surgery? 

He answered all of my questions, but not in the answers I wanted.  Basically, he said because I had stage 4 cancer, it was a very wise surgery to do.  He said I could wait up to 9 years to decide to do it.  Ugh, I felt.  I wanted to wait, but I also wanted to get it over with, because if not, it would just be lingering over my head.  I remember seeing Shannon Doherty happy and healthy, and that I would have never known she had throat surgery.  She could talk normally, and there were no scars.  So, that lessoned my fear, however, I was still really really really really pissed off...and that’s where the dream ended. 

I spent all morning trying to analyze this crazy dream.  The feeling in the dream was 'OMG, this is scary, this was thrown on me without any warning, my doctors never mentioned it, I never heard about it, and now, this was the life I'm living?'  It was very scary.  I was so angry in the dream, more so than I ever felt in real life.  Or allowed myself to feel.  And then, it dawned on me.  I've been living this healthy, positive, hopeful, grateful life, that has definitely helped my recovery, and most likely, saved my life.  However, where did all of my anger go?  Cancer was happening to me, taking my life as I knew it away from me, without any warning or any say.  My life was raping me, cancer was raping me, and I had no outlet for rage.  I guess it's hard to be angry when you're fighting for your life.  There isn't much time for anger.  

But it seems, rage is living inside of me, in my subconscious.  And maybe now that my journey is almost over, maybe now, the rage feels safe to come out.  Maybe the rage will get it’s say through my dreams, and be able to work itself out.  I hope so.  Even though I still believe most of what I've experienced was the opposite.  Most of what I experienced is life is precious, each moment is precious, and life is a gift, and one day, that gift will be taken away. 

But you know what?  Even with that truth,  that really sucks !!!  And it makes me feel powerless... and I HATE being out of control!  I HATE that this happened to me, and stole a year and a half of my life away.  I HATE that I lost my hair and lost my health!  I HATE that I was afraid I was going to die.  I HATE that I had to have my breasts taken from me.  I HATE that my ovaries are next, and I will have to go through early menapause.  I HATE all of these things…AND AND AND… AND, I love how strong I became.  I LOVE that I was able to get through it with flying colors.  I LOVE that I grew closer to my friends and family.  I LOVE that I have more appreciation for life than I did a year ago.  I LOVE that I am a survivor and can help other victims survive.   I LOVE that I started Zero Negative, a company named after my cancer.   I LOVE my short hair now.  I LOVE that I will have perky new boobs.  I LOVE that I will never have to get a menstrual cycle again.  I LOVE how supportive and loved I feel from the world.  I LOVE knowing that I am strong and can accomplish whatever I want to.  I LOVE that I feel more powerful and connected in spirit than I ever did.  I LOVE that I can surrender to life now, knowing every day is a gift.  And,  I LOVE being cancer free.

So, I guess, with all the good, with all the happiness, there's another side needing to be released and expressed. And, maybe that scares me, to feel that anger, to feel so let down from myself, from the world.  But, I'm hoping my dream last night, a little bit of my anger, was lifted off of my heart.  And, just like the quote said, if I face my anger, or face all of my feelings, I can become more aware of my strength, knowing I am still whole, and still cancer free.  Nothing can take that away from me.  Nothing.

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