It is now January 16th and the past month seems like it has been a blur. Between my birthday celebration, preparing for Christmas, children visiting, Christmas itself and then heading back it Panama, it has been a bit of a whirlwind since my chemo treatments ended late September. As I reflect upon the past year, it has been quite a journey.
It has been a very difficult year in many ways, but also a tremendous year of personal growth. The C journey has brought me closer than ever with my family, husband and children. It has taught us all that the little petty things in life are not important – peace and happiness are at the forefront.
As someone who has struggled with depression what seems like my whole life, I found myself having to make a choice. Did I want to continue in this life? Did I want to endure the pain and agony of surgery, chemo, etc. and continue? The answer from my heart and soul was a resounding YES! With this heartfelt decision, I endeavoured to take as much of the negative as I could out of my struggle with breast cancer and tried my best to make it as positive as possible. Was it difficult? YES – it was. As someone who is often described by others as being strong, it is important for others to understand that it is often the ones who appear the strongest who are the ones who bottle everything up inside and only present ‘the best’. I am guilty as charged.
Influenced by a good friend of mine, I created a gratitude journal at the beginning of my ‘journey’, which I diligently wrote in, every day, during my treatment. I also journaled daily. Both of these processes were difficult on many days, as some days there didn’t appear to be a lot to be grateful for. However, it was enlightening to say the least, as I always did find something positive to say – even on my most difficult days.
My husband was my main pillar of strength throughout, helping me ‘put one foot in front of the other’ on the days when I thought I just couldn’t. He encouranged me and promised that each day would get better – even on the days when I found that I was at the ‘end of my tolerance rope’ of pain and suffering. My amazing and loving parents, children and friends were also a tremendous source of strength and inspiration to me, telling me how proud they constantly were of me. The beaches community of Panama (lead by none other than Cat Mandell and Rachel Kern) kept my buoyant as I cried many tears of happiness over how truly loved I felt, even across the thousands of miles which separated us. I was truly overwhelmed by the amount of positive support that surrounded me throughout those difficult months. I have always known I had many friends, but I have finally come to realize just how loved I am by so many people – all over the world.
I am now back in Panama and loving being warm again. I’ve been embraced by everyone I’ve been in contact with so far, with big hugs, love and sentiments admiration that often bring me to tears. My new, short hair ‘style’ has received rave reviews! It is low and easy maintenance, with no comb required – just a little organic coconut oil to help it curl and flip and do its thing. It doesn’t get messy in the summer winds and is wonderfully cool :-).
Low stress, love and happiness are in the forefront as I learn to balance my body’s needs and tolerance levels with the activities I love and cherish here in the land of sunshine. I’m looking forward to my husband’s visit in a few week so that he can be re-introduced to the wonders of Panama.
Blessings to you all! XO