Today I breathe. Waiting for scan results.

I am completely in awe of the human spirit.  I’m reminded continually of just how hard we fight.  All of us.  Some days we are battling our biggest foe and others we are just fighting the mundane of “normal” life.  And sometimes, we just give up completely because it’s too hard.  

I’ve had plenty of days when I just want to give up.  I want to say ENOUGH.  I can’t do this another day, but for some reason I don’t.  I might crawl under the covers until it passes.  I might cry until I have nothing left to cry out, but for some reason, I haven’t fully given up.

There are also the days when I’m able to see the good.  I feel like the day is fresh and it’s truly a chance to start over.  I’m hopeful and optimistic.  I know I can do anything.  I haven’t figured out the magic formula to feelings and emotions and how I can be hopeful one day and another day, I want to just go to sleep and never wake up.

I’m waiting for scan results right now - today.  My mind races back and forth between hopeful and hopeless.  The thought of having to go through another surgery or treatment about breaks me.  But then I try to pull myself up and revel in the uncertainty.  Some part of my brain utters…  “Until they tell you it’s back, it’s not cancer”.  Part of me believes it.  The other part of me is trying to brace myself and prepare for the worst.  These thoughts fly back and forth between hopeful and dread like a ping pong ball in China.  I attempt to lean into every ounce of mindfulness training and bring myself back to the present moment.  Sometimes it lasts for several minutes.  Sometimes it lasts for a few seconds.  

I have no choice though.  This is where I am in this moment.  Waiting.  Ok - I do have a choice.  I can choose to make myself crazy or to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I can choose to shower and put on nice clothes.  I can choose to eat something.  I can choose to go to work and try to put these crazy incessant thoughts on the back burner.  I could also choose to just hide and wallow, but I don’t want to make that choice today.

Today I’m choosing to show up in my life even though my heart weighs a hundred pounds in my chest and tears are welling up in the edges of my eyes.  I just keep trying to shake it off.  Literally shaking, dancing and pretending it’s not my reality.  I’ll probably cry in the shower and maybe that will help move some of it out of me.  And there’s that piece of me that reminds me that it could all be okay.  Somehow, that’s really hard to believe and it’s easier to brace myself for the worst.  

I’m very angry at cancer.  I have beat it twice and yet I still feel like a little girl up against a bully.  It always feels like it has the upper hand and it’s secretly plotting to take me down.  I try to live my life in spite of looking over my shoulder every day and I hate that it owns a piece of me.  I want to be thankful for it - that it opened my eyes and heart to appreciate life.  If I thought I was out of the weeds, maybe I would be there.  I’m sure being in waiting mode after this scan makes it worse.  I do feel that way in between appointments.  I forget more often than I think about it.  I have to remind myself of that.  It does get better.  And looking over my shoulder just robs me of the moment.  I hate that!  Give me my damn moments back!  

Today, I breathe.  I cry and I show up.  And, I pray for some good news.    

When you see pink skies, think of me

Life is so confusing at times. I feel engulfed by cancer. It is such a huge part of my life. It’s part of my story, who I am and my day to day conversations at work. Sometimes it overwhelms me and I want to get as far away it as I can, but that’s not where I am today. Today, it’s a part of my world. I wish I could treat it like a bad relationship. Delete it’s number. Maybe even move. Ask friends not to mention it. Eventually, the thing that was so loud in my life becomes a faint whisper. Maybe I’ll get there, but not today.

I’ve been thinking, how can I shift this narrative for myself. Instead of feeling like a victim and swept away by cancer, how can I make it meaningful. I feel like this comes up a lot in conversations around cancer. I heard something that’s stuck with me the past couple of days about making an agreement with loved ones BEFORE you die. Picking some sort of sign or symbol to know they are there with you. Often we don’t want to talk about death with our loved ones. It’s too hard to think about them being gone. I think cancer makes it easier to acknowledge the fact that we are all going to die. Cancer gives us the gift of time to say our goodbyes and to be more mindful with our time together.

I was driving home from work the other night thinking about this. Thinking about my life, about how I can bring more meaning and connection to it. I looked up and the sky was hot pink. I realized I want my friends and family to think of me when they see pink skies. I want them to feel my love whether I’m here or not. I want pink skies to encourage them to live their best lives. Hell, I want pink skies to remind me to live my best life while I’m here. I don’t want to waste a precious moment of this life. I don’t know how long it will last. Maybe I live into my 90’s and have a crazy, full, wild ride of a life. Maybe not. It doesn’t feel like it’s really up to me and that’s okay. What’s up to me is how I spend this time. What’s up to me is how present I am and what I let consume my thoughts. The type of person I show up as every day. That’s what I am in control of right now.

Cancer might be a part of my world more than I really want it to be, but I can choose what that means. What it means to me today is to live a great fucking life. It’s not perfect. It’s not even pretty sometimes, but it’s mine. I want to leave a legacy of love, strength, faith and resilience. I want to appreciate the tiniest moments and let go of the bullshit that gets in my way. I want to see a pink sky and know that anything is possible. I hope you will do the same and when you see pink skies maybe think of me even if only for a moment.

Finding space to breathe

Sometimes hearing people talk about “mindset” and thinking positively when going through a tough time makes me want to give them the finger. When I was in the middle of treatment or just after surgery, I thought, what do you know? You’re sitting there with a perfect life and telling me to think positively? It made me angry. I would try to work on my thought patterns and be “positive” during the depths of cancer. Sometimes it worked and I could have moments of clarity, hope and faith. Other times, I dropped a lot of F bombs and cried. And cried some more.

What I’ve learned on the other side of things, during the “life after cancer” part of all of this, is that it is a constant process. There’s never an end point to working on this. Some moments, I’m like freaking Buddha - clear mind, calm and peaceful. Other times, I swing from Charles Manson to Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. It can feel like completely different people live inside of me. What’s changed now is my response. I’ve learned my response is everything. It’s okay to feel like 20 different people. It’s okay to rage and cry and be angry. I can’t just “be positive” - that’s not realistic nor does it serve me to try to achieve that. Instead, it’s how I choose to respond that changes everything.

My dear friend and mentor, Ashley Graber, was the first person to teach me that I had some power and control in my response. She shared with me Viktor Frankl’s work and quote. “ Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Learning that I have a choice was a game changer. It has also taken time and is something I work on daily.

You might be asking yourself…..How does this apply to health and life after cancer? I believe health is the whole picture - mind, body and soul. I know that can sound trite sometimes, but hear me out. When I fall into rage and anger or even sadness and shame, I feel it viscerally. My body responds. I get a tight throat, sick to my stomach, worn out, headaches. It doesn’t mean I won’t feel those things, but I use them to signal to me to choose how I respond. Sometimes it means I need to take a nap and not talk to anyone. Other times, I really need to reach out to a friend and share where I am. For me, fear manifests either as anger or sadness in me and the response in my body is so strong, it takes over. There’s a lot of fear during and after cancer. I used to try to fight it, but now, I understand it is a part of going through cancer and I choose how I respond to it. Instead of being swept away by those feelings now, I remember Viktor Frankl and find some peace in the space to respond. It helps me move through it physically AND mentally.

I honestly feel like I could write an entire book about this topic. That’s not my goal for today. Today I just want to open up this idea. It doesn’t mean we are always great at it but it’s a start. The more we acknowledge and recognize this tiny bit of space, the more empowered we are to move forward. I invite you to notice how you feel and see if you can find even the tiniest bit of space. Even if in that space all you’re able to do is take a few deep breaths, that’s a win in my book! Sometimes, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by emotion, I go to the bathroom and just breathe deeply. I lean into the space that a few deep breaths give me and can move forward from there. For whatever reason, we are created to feel and our bodies respond. Being curious about our feelings and our responses, being open to exploring this and understanding it is a lifelong process has changed my life completely.

I would love to hear what you think. Does any of this resonate with you? Are you willing to try to lean into that response time even with a few breaths? Please share your comments, thoughts, feelings. I would love to connect and hear from you!

What does "healthy living" after cancer look like?

What does "healthy living" after cancer look like?

My goal here is to share what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, what I’ve learned, bring other people into the conversation to share their experience and wisdom and to just have more of a conversation going about life after cancer. What I’ve learned these past couple of years is that it’s kind of unchartered territory. There’s a lot of room for growth and learning here. I hope to help other cancer survivors on their path. We are definitely stronger together and this community can help lift each other up instead of feeling isolated, frustrated and alone after surviving cancer.

Getting back into alignment and GIVING

Getting back into alignment and GIVING

I haven’t written a blog post in a little while.  I want whatever I post to feel good and authentic and real.  I think I was feeling a bit out of alignment the past few months.  I realized something through the process of yoga teacher training about Life in Session and what it means to me.  My ultimate goal is to help people going through cancer whether it is the patient or a family member or friend.  I just want to help people.  Then, there is the tricky part around making money and my own survival.  It has felt out of alignment meshing the two.

Interview with Casey Gouveia of GO BE YOU! Skin care, self love and so much more!

Interview with Casey Gouveia of GO BE YOU!  Skin care, self love and so much more!

Today I am excited to share an interview with such an uplifting, beautiful soul - Casey Gouveia!! Casey is a professional makeup artist AND a health coach with an incredible story and such wisdom to share.

Essential oils for healing interview with Jennifer Barnett, essential oil wellness advocate and health coach

Essential oils for healing interview with Jennifer Barnett, essential oil wellness advocate and health coach

Join me for an awesome chat with Jennifer Barnett - the queen of essential oils!!! We talk about how to use them to help with side effects, stress relief, for caregivers and in survivorship!

Interview with Stage 4 Cancer Survivor Heather Juliet, Founder of Mindologie

Interview with Stage 4 Cancer Survivor Heather Juliet, Founder of Mindologie

I had the incredible pleasure to interview my dear friend, Heather Juliet.  Not only is she a Stage 4 Cancer Survivor, but also an author, mother, speaker, Founder of Mindologie and a stress reduction specialist.  In this interview she shares her cancer story, how she got through the mental, physical and emotional challenges of a stage 4 diagnosis and how she's creating an incredible future for herself and her daughter.  You definitely don't want to miss this!!!  

Are you or someone you love facing cancer? Learn about Life in Session and how we can help.

Are you or someone you love facing cancer? Learn about Life in Session and how we can help.

Welcome to our first YouTube video for Life in Session: personalized cancer support services. Meet Sara Davenport - 2 time cancer survivor and founder of Life in Session. For more info, please visit: www.lifeinsessionco.com