Last night, I had a wonderful moment, one of those kind of moments that can change your life. It was a tender moment with Dr. Shani Fox.
Dr. Fox is a Naturopath and life coach here in Portland, OR. I know her through my work with Breast Friends. Last night, I believe we became friends at a deeper level. I was sharing with her my recent diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her response? Well, let’s just say it was life-changing for me.
My recent PET scan in early October revealed that the cancerous nodes and tumors I have been fighting off and on for the last 22 years have spread to my other side, and showed up in five different spots. My previous scan in May, only five months earlier, did not show this.
Since then, I have changed doctors (my doctor, whom I adore, and has gotten me through my previous diagnoses, is retiring at the end of the year), we’ve conducted a biopsy to determine the tumor make-up and activity, and submitted the tissue for the trial. And now we are waiting.
I am excited about my new team. My new oncologist is brilliant, young and compassionate. He cares deeply about my well-being.
But, I should have warned him about me. I don’t wait well and things are moving more slowly than I am used to. I am waiting for acceptance into the trial and with that, there are many steps to be considered. The conditions have to be exactly right. I have full confidence in my new team, and I am excited about the trial. BUT, I am also anxious about what is happening inside my body while we are waiting approval.
So last night, at the Breast Friends open house in Portland, OR, Dr. Fox approached me and gave me a hug. She asked how I was coping. I opened up to her and told her about my fears of what was happening inside my body during this waiting period. I told her that this time of “doing nothing” was very difficult.
What she said next blew my mind. She reminded me that staying in the light, doing what I love, bringing my messages of hope to women is not doing nothing. She said, when you stay in the light, not only your mind and spirit become strong, but your body as well. Think of the messages your cells get when you speak, sing and inspire others!
Shani reminded me that in October, while feeling the devastation of this diagnosis, I still had the privilege of speaking at cancer events around the country. I’m still singing with the swing orchestra that I love so much and will perform with them locally on December 4. I was at the open house last night giving support to two specific women who needed a moment of light. I shed a tear with her in the corner thinking about all of that.
When I combine that beautiful message from Shani, with the message from our recent radio show guest, Liam Ryan from Ireland, that my job as a patient is to become part of the team who are dedicated to saving my life, I give myself the best chance at success. Liam said our role as the patient in becoming part of the team is to make ourselves as strong as possible as we begin treatment, not only physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. There are people praying for me all over the country and by staying in the light, I honor them as well.
So, as Shani and Liam suggested, I will do my best to continue to stay in the light. I will continue to do what I love, and I will make myself the strongest and best patient I can as I enter the fight of my life. I encourage all my sisters who are in this battle, or struggling with something different, to find your light, and stay connected in it.
And I will practice what I preach at every cancer survivor event I speak at…and that is to Never Lose Hope!
Love, Hugs…and Hope,