I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, 2010. I started aggressive dose dense chemotherapy (every 2 weeks) in July. My last chemo was in November, followed by a lumpectomy and axillary node dissection, and lastly 6 weeks of radiation.
I am 39, with 4 sisters, 11 nieces/nephews, amazing friends, and 1 cat that uses the toilet! I am a psychologist in Oakland, CA, where youth are expected to be shot or go to jail, vs. graduating. I foster dogs that are about to be euthanized at kill shelters. I was raised by my uncle, aunt, and 4 cousins (now my sisters). My mother died when I was 4, and my father when I was 11. I have grown up being a survivor, a warrior. I wrote this update to family and friends after my second round of chemo: "I wish I could say inspiring things, like woo hoo, I am kicking cancer's ass, etc., but truthfully, I am not sure why everyone uses language like 'fight' and 'battle', because I don't feel that is the case at all. I don't feel like any soldier I've seen in the movies. I feel terrified, quiet, and passive; as though I have already been beat down, and I am quietly turning my head and closing my eyes, wishing I was far away. Last night, I dreamt I was a super hero. I was BIG! Like Godzilla, and I saved a childcare center from a big earthquake. I was strong. Then I woke up, looked at myself in the mirror, and remembered."
I love horses. In truth, I have not had enough time with horses, but I would ride and be with them every day if I could. I have always felt a special, peaceful connection to them. For me, horses hold magical powers of healing. I worked at a residential treatment center for severely abused children, and we had a ranch onsite. I wish I did more yoga. I wish it to be part of my life practice. Yoga means strength and awareness to me. I want to build back my relationship with my body so that I can trust its strength again. My update in February 2011: "Chemo done. Surgery done. Radiation done. First yoga session in months and my legs and arms are shaking and I am sweating. But it feels good. Pure. And I am grateful".
Having cancer has been beyond "challenging". More than taking my health, cancer has taken a part of who I am: my light, my spunk, and my voice. I want the chance to heal, to connect to a strong source of grace (horses), and reconnect to strength in my own body (yoga). For me, "yeehaw" and "Namaste" mean the same thing: gratitude.