I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015. I share my learning that jolted me back on track to a new life. This is my seventh posting.
I was offered radiation and anti-hormone treatment after my two surgeries. I declined the anti-hormone drug Tamoxifen after learning about the side effects. I accepted the radiation without questioning and did not do any research whatsoever. I only knew that my skin would look sun burned and that organic aloe-vera cream would help. I did not want to know about further potential side effects. My avoidance was a defense mechanism. I was scared.
The objective of the radiation was to kill small cancer cells that might be left in the tissue. This was hard to accept. In my view, I was now 100 percent healthy and only needed to regain my strength. I refused to take in that I might have more cancer in my body.
Inside the Machine
The radiation machine looked like it belonged to a Star Wars movie. I lay down on a hard metal bench with a loose plastic sheet. It was often moist from the sterilization liquid used between each cancer patient.
It was essential to lie in the exact same position each time and the nurses used the plastic sheet to pull me the few millimeters needed to find that perfect spot. My hands rested on handles above my head. The bottom part of my body was fully dressed and my feet were placed in a blue plastic footrest.
Once the nurses left the room, the huge, round screen started to move to target the defined area of my left body. I was literally inside a machine. The entire procedure took 5-10 minutes and I had to lie in perfect stillness. And no, in case you wondered, radiation does not hurt any more than taking an x-ray.
During the actual radiation, I closed my eyes and repeated a positive message over and over again in my head: I am vibrating with good health. I get stronger and healthier every day. I am grateful for all the help I get. All cancer cells are now gone. They have left my body for now and forever.
This affirmation made me feel very good. I could feel a positive energy moving around my body and it helped me escape the actual situation. One nurse noticed that I always had a smile on my face and said it was almost sad to ask me to stand up.
I did not enjoy the radiation appointments. In fact, I kept a daily countdown and looked forward to my last one. But by doing the affirmations I added something positive and powerful to the procedure.
One of my favorite poems of all times is 'Our Deepest Fear' by Marianne Williamson. One of her most important messages is that we do not know how powerful we are. Affirmations help you feel stronger and more in control. During days with low energy, I did not feel powerful, but I believe that my affirmations made me just that.
Cancer Does Not Define Me
I was on a coffee date with a dear friend and the conversation was rich and funny as always. Suddenly she stopped herself in the middle of a sentence. 'I am so sorry', she said, 'I have totally forgotten to ask; how are you doing?' I smiled and I was grateful that my cancer was not the first choice of topic.
My cancer experience was no longer new to me. I travelled back and forward to the hospital for radiation every day, I rested, I got acupuncture to increase my energy, I enjoyed my yoga training. I was healing. I had moved beyond being sick. I still had five more days of radiation, but my thoughts were on work, on new ideas and not on cancer.
I did not see myself as a 'cancer survivor.' I wondered why? The summer had been a very tough experience and getting cancer was a tremendous shock. Why did I not want to identify with it? Was there something I was running away from?
One morning as I was glancing through postings on Facebook, I opened TEDMed's talk by Debra Jarvis: "Yes, I survived cancer. But it doesn't define me'. In her inspiring video, she explained that if making the cancer experiences the core of which you are, you become stale. Her advice was to claim our hard experiences, while giving ourselves room to grow and evolve.
This totally resonated with me. I felt that I was waking up to a new sense of joy on so many levels. Life was different now. It was easier to live in the moment. I felt that all the things I had done to heal faster, all the books I had read, the advice I had received were converging into an understanding of what was important in life. It was a feeling of integration.
I was ready to move on from cancer to a different kind of life. I was curious to find out what it was exactly. One step at the time. As usual, my inner child was very impatient to move on, to run towards the next phase. But first I had to finish my daily visits to the hospital.
Please find my previous posts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-gro-gulla//