Transcending (Me + Cancer = Not A Love Story)

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“So long as you think of yourself in battle with cancer,
you’ll never transcend cancer. You’ll always be engaged with it.” —Katherine Russell Rich

 

Much like a chance encounter that turns into a bad date, regretful hook up or one night stand, cancer spotted me from afar and entered my life. In my weakened state quite depleted from life, the death of my sister, city living and work, with a compromised immune system cancer took me for a spin and turned my world upside down. My body was distracted from detecting the deviousness and presence of the disease that infiltrated the milk ducts of my right breast. Cancer then proceeded to encroach upon my sentinel node which categorized my 2016 cancer diagnosis as Stage 2. After moving through my personal cancer experience, I’ve come out quite different on the other side. On the anniversary of my cancerous fling, I am no longer fighting cancer and am resolved to be.

What cancer attempted to steal from me was a full life of love, activity and freedom to which I had come accustomed, as well as a life of purpose and self acceptance for which the Universe had been preparing me for quite some time. Cancer diminished the trust and sheer security that I once had in my strong and able body, leaving me with one that has been invaded, scarred, manipulated and compromised by the treatments implemented to ward off recurrence. The effects of all will stay with me the rest of my life. I am forever at risk for lymphedema that could occur at anytime. As such, blood pressure tourniquets cannot ever be placed on my right arm and I will have to wear a compression sleeve when I fly. All of that in hopes to reduce the risk of swelling and the possible slowing of lymphatic fluid that could cause permanent swelling in my arm due to compression in high altitudes. For five years, I will be subjected to hormone therapy that move me into early menopause and all of the glorious symptoms of that. Cancer has altered my previous and relatively healthy life and body, forever.  

So although cancer has moved me through the tears, fear, shame, anger, sadness, and hating my body, while feeling less than, alone, undesirable, fat, fragile and sick, I have decided not to allow it to take over while I cower in fear from its infamous reputation for death, destruction and mayhem. Though initially rocked by the news of its presence, my feelings of having been violated made me determined not to let IT have the last word. And though I had been in a weakened state for a bit, I am not of weak stock. With the help of my crew, family, friends, yoga practice, community, attitude and medical team — day by day, I have grown stronger in my ability to face and tackle the steps necessary to get cancer out of my system and work towards flipping the script to use it for my bidding.  

My process is mapped and though it may take some time to fully realize, I am clear that our intimate introduction has bonded us, me and cancer forever. Ours is a conversation and relationship that will continue and transform. Despite all that cancer has attempted to rob me of, it has actually proven my resilience and capability for peace. Encouraged by my incredible team, I have been able to remain open to possibility, gratitude and the truth of abundance. In spite of the hold on me, I have always and since been continuously blessed with much. My body is rebounding, my relationships are stronger, my passion for life, service and supporting others has become more deeply inspired. My heart has been softened and my spirit is more free. I am better able to exist, to live and to sit in the moment, for I have learned that there isn’t any other way. I can now see that my future is a light that was not AS accessible to me before? The promise of the partnership that I was sure had eluded me is not only more relevant now, but also more attainable for I have been forged in an undeniable truth and have grown more in my becoming more ME.

Though I've never loved pink, like many others who have been called up to battle the big C, I have reluctantly become another modern day super-heroine and cancer surviving warrior princesses. Surprisingly, though I do stand grateful to have been opened up to abundance, shown my stamina and proof of strength which has revealed who I truly am. And, while no longer engaged in the battle, (an experience that I honestly would have preferred not to have had at all), I am clear on the fact  that cancer has been a teacher from which I have become humbled, learned and grown much.


 

Teri Gandy-Richardson