The Beautiful Thing Is That Life Moves On- Waiting through Remission

The beautiful thing is that life moves on.  On April 18th, 2015- 2 YEARS AGO ( what?) , I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I never thought I could move on as I have.  I didn’t think that I would be breathing through another kid’s birthday, summer, and farmers market. More importantly,  getting this far in the journey and experiencing what I have so far.  

Well, I suppose a congratulations for making through the first portion of treatments are in order, and I’m technically in remission. It seems to be a big deal for non-cancer folks.  I get, “so are you in remission now?” I know, many are wondering where I am in my cancer treatments, its normal and kind to be asked. However, I prefer this question instead, “Where are you in your cancer journey, or have you finished treatments?” 

 It wasn’t until recently when I understood why I hated the word remission. It doesn’t accurately describe the feeling or life that follows active cancer treatments. Actually, it devalues my new normal entirely. There continues to be a pain, or a seriousness of the disease.  In fact the most crucial time for cancer patients and possible recurrence is the next 5 years. The actual  overhaul toxins may have ceased, but cancer treatments continues on.  Remission is a temporary recovery as the REAL healing and pain begins.

I have shared many ways that I cope and deal with life after cancer.  I strive daily, in fact, sometimes minute by minute.  I truly love harder, laugh heartier, and live deeply.

 My new perspective is a gift. 

I’ve been so busy- living a full life with a rewarding career, parenting with the love of my life, and healing through organizations like SEND ME ON VACATION and IMAGE REBORN.  I have been writing for SMOV for a few months now,  neglecting my current blog, but reaching more readers and survivors through it.  I am  beyond grateful  for the opportunity to be a part of the healing of others in their own journey.  It is a really beautiful blessing, the silver lining of my health journey and I thank God for it.

There is a recent picture of Shannon Doherty that sums up the depletion that occurs after the”fight”.  The transition is not as joyous as one may think- there are lot of – “ok, so now what” moments that can paralyze you.  

The idea of the next 5 years terrifies me more than any other time in my life.  In the next 5 years- I am waiting for the “clear”.  However, as much as I desperately want the time to fly by, I am absorbing the mommy moments, taking on the professional challenges at work and creating plans for the future with the love of my life.

Regardless of what the  next 5 years bring, I know I am living a well lived life. 

If you haven’t already, check out the intimate blog posts here —–> Send Me On Vacation Blog

Thank you for your love and support!

Holiday = Stress? How I prevent it from ruining my LIFE, anymore….

 

7 Ways to Reduce Stress and Depression

Getty Images 

 

Before the holidays come and go, I wanted to share my last tidbit from Send Me On VacationMermaid Journey and I think it is fitting, especially since Holiday = Stress for many individuals diagnosed with or without cancer.  We all manage stress differently and the goal is to lower our “Stress Threshold”.  On day 3 of the Mermaid Transformation, we discussed how the threshold varies with every person.  We are  individually responsible to understand and respect our own threshold. 

( I seem so relaxed as I put into practice my stress free lifestyle in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) 

The holidays bring with it a variety of emotions and for  many, new anxieties. Last year at this time, I was diligently going to my daily radiation treatments.  I would drive the 55 minutes to and from each appointment and then the 10 minute procedure. It was exhausting.  I was hit with fatigue, nervousness, fear, sadness, nausea, I had all of it.  I was not in the holiday spirit.  It took all I had to try to bring joy into my home to normalize the season to create comfort for my children.  This task was not easy.  I would focus on the moment that I had with them, reminding myself that – It could be my last.

Now, one year later, I am celebrating another Christmas with my loved ones.

How BLESSED am I?

My heart is beyond full when I think about how far we have come as a family.  We went from such grim and sadness during the holiday season to a profound gratitude and pure joy for another year together.  I am not going to pretend that the year leading up to this time has been easy breezy- but it has been beautiful.

Our stress level has significantly lowered- we have not allowed the threshold to increase and overwhelm us. 

We have made strides to focus on our happiness and our future- TOGETHER.

 For some time, I was trying to manage my heartache and my emotions after cancer alone- my husband has helped to prove to me that it is TOGETHER when Ill grow stronger.   More than ever, I rely on his compassion and unshakeable love for me and our children. Again, how BLESSED am I?

For example, PTSD is rearing its little head, especially since, I am currently suffering from an eight week cold.

EVERYTIME I get sick, I imagine the worst case scenario and I become an emotional mess.

I see it coming, I know what’s happening, but I can’t stop it from temporarily taking over.

So far, meditation has worked.  My husband continues to be that extra concerned and comforting  man and ALWAYS willing to talk through the hurt. (He is one of my “Go To” people- keep reading)

Stress before and after cancer exists because our bodies have gone through so much.  We are anticipating the worse, hoping for the best and experiencing emotional and physical pain.  It’s only natural to STRESS.  What most cancer patients are made aware of is the negative impact that stress can continue to have.

You are in luck- here is my list to prevent holiday STRESS and DEPRESSION.

 

Cancer patients get a double whammy and as you know, the key is PREVENTION.

 

 

 Keep these in mind as you bring in the NEW YEAR and the NEW YOU!

Preventing Holiday Stress and Depression

 

When you are in the midst of a stressful situation, it can be challenging to think it through and regroup, but PREVENTING the stress is one of the best ways to ensure a happy holiday season.

BREATHE and MEDITATE: If you read my previous post, then you know that the best way to change your BRAIN is to meditate.  This directly effects your stress level.  If you are feeling overwhelmed from the shopping crowds, the never ending energy from the kids, or the annoying family members- remove yourself from it all and take 7 minutes to breathe and meditate.  Specifically breathe in this mantra:  I am that: ___________.  Fill in the blank.  

I like to say. “I am that, calm and joyous light in my life. I am that, healthy and cancer free woman.”

ONLY 7 minutes.  You can do anything for 7 minutes!

CHECK IN with your FEELINGS:  Acknowledge what is going on, whether those feeling are anxiety, sadness, fear or all the above. Be honest with yourself and allow your feelings to be heard.  Ignoring it can make it worse.

DETERMINE your holiday EXPECTATIONS: MAYBE, just maybe, you can’t manage to be the host for your annual Family Christmas Dinner for 30, right now.  Slow it down and be realistic.  Pass it on to someone else this year and maybe next year too.

SLEEP: When you sleep you are healing your body.

Check out these videos:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/watch/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-dont-sleep/vi-BBpAct9

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=what+your+body+does+during+sleep+to+heal&&view=detail&mid=9C729AB8B78542DA82E99C729AB8B78542DA82E9&FORM=VRDGAR

 

Keep MOVING: Go for a stroll, do yoga, or hit the gym.  Keep your hormones and stress levels low by working up a sweat. Remember that there are these fancy chemicals like endorphins,  oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine that bring happiness and pleasure when your body is moving.

FIND your  GO TO Person: We all have one and if you don’t, get one.  This is someone that you can easily tell everything to and there isn’t any strings or judgment.  You can divulge all your secrets and this person still thinks you’re awesome.  Could be your mom, a church friend, your oldest best friend, a spouse or even your dog.  It might be a challenge to find that person, and if that’s the case, go to the person you most trust and ask if they are up to being your “go to person”.  We should all have at least one person,  other than ourselves, to advocate for us! 

   

 

 

 

Heart of GRATITUDE:  Above all else, practice this.  You get to experience one more beautiful year with your loved ones.  Embrace this time and don’t let stress take it away from you.  Take a look at something that touches your heart.  It may be your children, your pet, a plant.  Whatever it is that makes you smile,  take in the moment and be grateful for that.  God has blessed you with one more moment to cherish.

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all the peace and love during the holiday season! Stay healthy and stress-free!

-H

 

Transformation of a Breast Cancer Mermaid ~ two

The Transformation of a Breast Cancer Mermaid ~ two

Transformation Tidbits from the Mermaid Journey

WHY I HAD CANCER and WHAT IM DOING ABOUT IT.

_mlb9943-1_snapseed

Photo Courtesy of Monica Burton

 

As I mentioned in the previous posts, I gained a significant amount of wisdom from Rebecca Taylor Shaw during her Send Me on Vacation– A Mermaid’s Journey. I wrote endless notes and hung onto her every word during our time together in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  She gifted me with the knowledge of strategies that I have personally incorporated since Mexico. It has empowered me to continue to live a happier and healthier life after cancer.

If you want to skip all the stuff in the middle- her contact info is below……but at least, pretend you are interested in what I have to say and continue reading.  I promise it will be worth it!

So, I can honestly say, at first the idea of the” mermaid” seemed a bit tacky, or cliché.  I thought, “Ok, sure, I’ll buy into it.  We are all mermaids diving into unknown depths and finding our magical purpose after such tragedy.” Blah… Blah…

However, after that first session of the Mermaid Journey- I was convinced.  I did  have an inner mermaid emerging to the surface desperate to share the strength that I needed to continue to live a more joyful life after cancer.

The mermaid, an archetype of mystery, wisdom, beauty, power, magic, grace, and inner strength.

 

She possesses unwavering faith in her own intuition

 

The mermaid is sought after, untamed, and in control of her own fate. She is wildly fierce as she dives into the unknown and displays an unusual amount of courage.

One of my FAVORITE quotes:

mermaid-quote

When I received my cancer diagnosis at 34, it cut me off at the knees.  How was it possible that my life could have taken this direction without any warning? The truth is, after a year, I could now answer that question.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I do have the answer, and there was WARNING.

It’s a personal conclusion that I have grappled with for over a year.  Could it really have been that easy for me to have prevented it?   My doctors, friends, and family might challenge me on this, but my intuition tells me differently.  My intuition is real, your intuition is real.   We get so busy and distracted that we end up stifling it and giving it no voice.

Cancer has forced me to find a way to make peace with my situation and to teach myself how to deal with emotional stress.  It is teaching me to find faith in my intuition.

 

I can honestly say that my lifestyle + emotional stress = CANCER

 

It has been a tremendous wake up call for me.  Admittedly, it has taken me a whole year to move through the motions of this realization.  I am a work in progress.

It has been hard work to view my diagnosis as a SIGN.

A sign that I have finally read and it is saying that “the way that I am living is killing me.”

 

 I am literally killing myself by the way that I am living.

 

No one wants to admit that they may have caused their own cancer, and I didn’t do it intentionally of course- but I am owning up to the fact that- it is MY cancer, my cells that are abnormal and are making me sick and I have to change it.  I TRULY believe that I have the power to change my fate.   And THAT,  is empowering!

I have always lived a bit more spontaneously than most.  I crave change, adventure, and I desperately seek what’s around the corner.  It has served me well, up until now.

family-picture-dec-2013-copy

Now, I am a full time mother and wife  maintaining a full time career.  I am supporting my husband with his successful catering company, while balancing friendships, family and other social obligations.  This alone is enough for anyone to feel stressed and exhausted- oh yeah,  let me throw in CANCER survivor as well.

I do not have the ability to manage every aspect of life with grace and ease.

And I honestly don’t know anyone who does.  Something will always give.

Being a parent is already exhausting.

Being married has its challenges.

Finding a balance between work and home life can be near impossible.

 

SO my answer is to STOP and say NO.

 

Say NO to _________ (fill in the blank- you already know what it is- your intuition has told you! ) that makes you unhappy.

Say NO to people in your life that make you unhappy.

Say NO to a lifestyle that makes you unhappy.

Say NO to food that makes you unhealthy/unhappy.

Say NO to a job or career that makes you unhappy.

Say NO to whatever makes you unhappy.

Find your happiness by listening to your intuition.

intuition

It has been telling you all along what do to.  When you don’t listen, then it shifts to more dramatic measures and it tells your body.  If you still don’t listen, those symptoms become louder and it’s impossible to ignore.  It may be too late.

Think MERMAID.

There is so much power to harnessing your intuition.

copy-of-_mlb9973_2snapseed

Photo Courtesy of Monica Burton

It hasn’t forsaken you- you just left it on the shelf.  Like a good book that draws you in, pick it back up and focus on the power it has.  It can bring back emotions, lost memories and experiences that brought excitement and peace.

The #1 lifesaving strategy that I want to share with you is the POWER of PRAYER and MEDIATION. 

Deepak Chopra says, that “Prayer is you speaking to God and meditation is allowing the spirit to talk to you.”

I have implemented both at varying degrees in my life.  Some years, I have been more prayerful, especially when tragedy, sadness or fear come into play.  I find peace and I rest on my faith to push me through the tough times.  However, mediation has physically, emotionally and mentally changed me.

 

I have felt the connection between my intuition and physical body. 

 

your-intuition-is-a-muscle-phil-good-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

The best part is that there is a science behind mediation to confirm my experience.  I’m not crazy!  It affects you on a cellular level.

Check out the short video below.

The Science of Mediation

To start however, I would aim for a more practical guided approach, especially if meditation seems too impossible of a task.

 I would start out with a mediation that guides you to complete relaxation and a purposeful vision.  It is open ended, it uses your creativity and allows you to feel free to explore your intuition- the same one that you have overlooked all these years.

Guided meditation or guided imagery is a scripted video or audio clip that is a proactive yet gentle process of focusing on accomplishing specific goals, from work achievements to physical healing, to personal transformation or deep relaxation.

I would personally recommend working with Rebecca Taylor Shaw from Charleston Hypnosis for your first experience.  She is loving, successful with her clients, and passionate about helping change your brain through strategies, such as guided imagery, to reach your greatest potential and well-being.  There are several other scripted guided practices that I can share with you.  Comment below  or shoot me an email and I will send that information your way.

Guided imagery and mediation will literally change your brain matter in 8 weeks.

Check out the Harvard study below:

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

This transformation is not an easy one, but totally worth it.  I am listening to my intuition and practicing meditation daily.

Of course, it was easier to get started on this journey on a beautiful vacation to Puerto Vallarta with Send Me on Vacation and it does help to have your fellow mermaids along side you.  I was blessed to get to know ten beautiful souls, each with their own stories of inspiration.

mermaids-journey-retreat-mexico-1024x346

 If you have had breast cancer or know someone who has- consider sending your application to Cathy at Send Me on Vacation.  It continues to be one of the best experiences in my cancer journey so far.  I encourage you all to find your inner mermaid, as cheesy as I may sound- it’s working for me.

Connect with me as we swim the depths together. 

 

I pray that it doesn’t have to be cancer that gets your attention.

 

Let’s be all be mermaids!

 

Let’s be sought after, untamed, and in control of our own fate.  Let us be wildly fierce as we dive into the unknown and display an unusual amount of courage.

_mlb9998-1_snapseed

Photo Courtesy of Monica Burton

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Transformation of a Breast Cancer MERMAID ~ one

send-me-on-vacation-logo

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.

187

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!

016

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.

img_0686 

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!

140

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!

_mlb9909_snapseed

 

 

 

 

Save