Transformation of a Breast Cancer MERMAID ~ one

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The transformation was subtle. It began the moment I was accepted into the Send Me on Vacation – Mermaid’s Journey and read the letter aloud to my husband.  It was only a couple of months away and I was already day dreaming about sleeping in, ordering room service and reading by the pool. 

Those quiet moments were what I was most excited about.  I didn’t make that a priority in the past and going to Mexico would reset my expectations for myself and my family.

 I would finally have the skills to put into place healthier living after cancer.

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I arrived in Puerto Vallarta on Friday afternoon to beautiful cloudy skies. The air thick, hot and humid.  The resort was only 15 minutes from the airport and I easily transported there by taxi. 142

I stayed in a 5 diamond  resort on the 4th floor called the Grand Luxxe at Vidanta. I had a wonderful “suite” mate that shared the other half of the suite with me. The resort is enormous. I explored elegant pools adorned by comfortable poolside beds and cabanas.  I had my fair share of piña colada and cerviche.

Seriously, breathtaking!

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Since I had arrived a couple days before , “Mermaid Meet and Greet”, I took along with my new breast cancer survivor friend and suite mate, Jennifer, and we explored the enormous resort via shuttle bus.    We took a tour of downtown Puerto Vallarta and went to a tequilla tasting.  We made our way to dinner along the beach and watched the sunset. We were found pinching ourselves and exclaiming our deepest gratitude for the opportunity of a lifetime.

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My sanctuary was the spa called Spatium.  It was the ultimate self care experience.  I would jump into the eucalyptus vapor room, then the Swedish shower, followed by the sauna, another shower, relax in the hot Jacuzzi with cucumber slices and a cold cloth on the eyelids.  I would then end with a a dramatic dip in cold water to close the pores. Repeat if so desired.  It seems like a lot of work, but it was incredibly relaxing and self satisfying. img_0668

It took about 2 full days to remove the guilt of being away from my family and creating these memories without them.  I hadn’t been away from my children for that long.  I had never purposefully vacationed without my husband.   It seemed so dreamy, but I missed them.  They have always been and are my life. I truly struggled those first couple of days.  But there was that small voice, the one we all have before marriage and having children, hidden beneath the piles of laundry, online bill paying and taking out the garbage.  That little voice that spoke for you and advocated for your deepest wishes. It came back to me  joyfully and with an abundance of freedom.  I was gently reminded that I am in Mexico for my own HEALING.

I need to be WHOLE again, that I may be the best version of myself for my family- and that includes getting tan!

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It has been said that breast cancer is not just a physical disease but an EMOTIONAL one as well.  There are many layers and many false explanations.  Just as quickly as it came, it was gone. The chemotherapy, radiation and lumpectomy took care of the actual tumor, but left me empty and sad.  Just like that, it was over and I felt so  physically and emotionally exhausted. 

  The scars, the concerns, the confusion… in the aftermath, so much lingers and cancer has left its mark.

I’m doing my best to work it out and to balance the different hats I must put on.

Organizations like Send Me on Vacation get it. 

 

Their goal has always been, to provide an unforgettable vacation experience for those who are in need of much deserved rest, rejuvenation and peace as they move forward in their cancer journey.

The real beauty and life changing work happened during the four day empowerment workshop. 

With Rebecca Taylor Shaw,  the CEO and director of the Charleston Hypnosis Center (CharlestonHypnosisCenter.com) located in the South’s most friendly city of Charleston, South Carolina.  She is also a Certified Master Trainer in Clinical Hypnosis with the International Association of Counselors and Therapists. She led us through a transformation of empowerment.  Rebecca used interactive guided imagery, relaxation strategies and other meditative strategies and modeled these resources to add to our  breast cancer “tool belt”.

 

Her passion for cancer survivors is evident as she created a gentle journey of connecting to our inner mermaid. Through it, we dove in our fears, insecurities and immeasurable strength.  She simply asked,

“How is that story working for you”? 

 

If you don’t like it, then change it. 

In the next post, I would like to focus on the specific useful strategies that she shared and ones I have actually been practicing since Mexico.   As a breast cancer survivor, or anyone who has suffered through a tragedy, issues that can stem from it are:  anxiety, restlessness, depression, lack energy/drive, fear of re-occurrence, relationship worries… the list goes on. 

These strategies have proven to be life changing. I am thrilled to share these resources with you!

www.sendmeonvacation.org

www.rebeccatayloyshaw.com

 You have helped me heal in your own way. I am grateful. I wish you many blessings and send love to each of you. Thank you for your support. 

Stay tuned!

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Send Me On Vacation -A Mermaid’s Journey

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It took me several days to let go of the guilt associated with leaving my sweet husband and adorable kids at home.  It had been predicted that a storm was coming to our precious PNW. I had packed and geared up for a 8 days and 7 nights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and was filled with a bit of apprehension about leaving but more so with glee-  I was going to MEXICO!!!!  AHH!

Let me pause a minute and give you the backstory.  In August, I had stumbled across a cancer resource page that listed various “retreats” that catered to women and their families who had suffered through breast cancer.  

I found Send Me On Vacation, a non profit organization that started with a vision by Cathy Backus to rejuvenate and provide emotional healing for her best friend who had suffered from breast cancer for the second time. With her knowledge and energy, Cathy created a foundation that enhances the healing journey for many survivors into a new normal that empowers, provides rest, fosters gratitude and creates genuine friendships, all the while experiencing an unbelievable vacation. There were several opportunities within the foundation to choose from and I decided on the Mermaid Journey– with Rebecca Taylor Shaw.

I have sat for a several days in front of my computer determining what would be the best way to describe the experience that I was so very fortunate to have had.  I just can’t possibly put it in one digestible post- I’ve decided to write a blog series on this BEAUTIFUL and EMPOWERING journey.

Transformation of a Breast Cancer Mermaid

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I want to describe the various facets that a trip like this entails- what it felt like leading up to the decision, pushing aside the guilt associated with saying “yes” for my own healing (way overdue) and many more thoughts and true emotions of my “transformation journey”.   Cancer is more than a health disease, its emotional and spiritual.

I have broken the series into the Before, During and After, but not necessarily in that order!  Stay tuned for the gorgeous photos, the life changing nuggets of insight from the brilliant Rebecca Taylor Shaw and the tools and resources that have lead me to the stage I am now of renewal and transformation that is rolled up in a pretty bow of compassion.

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I spoke to a previous breast cancer mom this morning, and she commented on the fact that, only those who have walked through our journey can truly understand the anxiety,fear, guilt and sadness that {we} survivors suffer through. I hugged her and knew that it doesn’t have to be this way- the pain is inevitable, sure- but it doesn’t stay, it comes and goes.  If there is anything that I will do with more passion and heart, until the day I die, is to help eliminate those anxieties and bring about as much peace and joy to my life and the lives of fellow survivors. Let’s all be mermaids!