As a side note here, I don’t personally connect with the battle image of cancer, but I know some people hate when their battle with cancer is called a journey. Please insert whichever you prefer when reading my post 🙂
On this day, two years ago, my life changed forever. It was an awful, terrifying, confusing, desperate change, at first. His words were, “You actually do have a little bit of cancer.” I’m sorry, what? “Little bit” and “cancer” do not belong in the same sentence. Cancer doesn’t cause a “little bit” of pain. Cancer doesn’t cause a “little bit” of panic. Cancer doesn’t cause a “little bit” of your hair to fall out. Cancer doesn’t completely shake your world to its core a “little bit”. Cancer, early or late, is effing massive.
It wasn’t all bad though, even at the beginning. The first time I smiled after my diagnosis was when I realized that I would be able to help other people after I had finished this part of my relationship with cancer. There are two important lessons in that realization. One, that even the worst events of your life can be improved if you can look for and find meaning in them, the gifts that they offer, and that two, looking back on it now, I realize that I always believed I would get through this alive and well. Meaning, hope, and faith are three of the most important things you can take with you into your journey with cancer.
And that is really where my education began. Cancer has been my greatest teacher, and I mean that quite sincerely; it has been a relationship and a journey in the truest sense of each word. I have learned about myself, my true, deep, whole, unchanging self who has always been there but that I didn’t focus nearly enough attention or awareness on. I have learned the importance of gratitude and how it can shift your entire perspective on life. I am learning how to really show up in my own life, how to live the life I was meant to live and do what I was put on this earth to do. Most significantly, I have learned the importance of looking fear in the face and doing that thing that terrifies you anyway, for it is in those moments that we really discover what we are capable of. And I don’t just mean the obvious fear of dealing with a diagnosis; I mean taking that courage and strength you discovered during your time with cancer or whatever challenge you face, never again allowing yourself to forget that it is always there and that you are courageous and strong, and accessing it whenever you find that you are talking yourself out of something you want and need to do because you are scared to take that first step.
I am by no means finished growing or learning. I have so much work to do, for myself and for others. But for the first time in my life, I am aware of that work, I am open to that work, I am so grateful that I am here to do that work, and I will never again let fear stop me from embarking on it.
During that first year after diagnosis, more and more realizations kept coming to me; beautiful lessons that cancer was teaching me. I felt this incredible desire to go back to July 20th, 2017, to step into that doctor’s office, sit down next to the old me, give her a hug and tell her that everything will not only be okay, but better than ever before in her life. I wanted to tell her that she was about to embark on the most meaningful and beautiful time in her life, that things would never again be the same but in the best possible way. I wanted to share with her everything that she was going to learn, the truly astounding ways that she was going to change and grow, and to let her know that she was going to come out of this with the gift of discovery; discovery and expression of who she truly is, rediscovery and pursuit of her passions and those things that make her happiest, and the discovery that she is so much more than she believes in that moment, two long but also extremely fast years ago.
I couldn’t do that of course. The last two years have been a slow unfolding of all of these things, and there was no way to speed it up or jump to these realizations. Self-discovery and deep change do not work like that. They are a long and winding path to an unknown destination. You can’t know what is around the next bend let alone what waits at the end. And it’s a path that you will tread your entire life, as long as you take that first step onto it. Because that’s the thing about growth and discovery; they don’t happen to us, they happen with us. We have to decide to take their hands and walk beside them into the forest.
So take them, and never stop moving forward. I can’t tell you what waits along your path, but I can tell you that it will be beautiful and extraordinary and surprising and yours.
In the Solis Facebook group, I continue to share what I have discovered along my own path during the years since my diagnosis, the lessons I have been gifted and those that I worked for. This group is truly for anyone; cancer patients past and present, caregivers, people who want to prevent cancer, and those looking for inspiration in their own lives. So come on over and join us 🙂 And if you are specifically interested in finding the lessons I have posted there, just search #lessons in the group’s search bar.
Happy Healing ❤️