September 11, 2009; I call it my personal 9/11. I was sitting in a surgeon’s office, like so many others have done, just waiting on the news from my biopsy. He walked into the room, looked at me and said, “You have cancer and it’s not good.” I remember being in that office sitting on the exam table and seeing the look on my husband’s face when the doctor gave us the news. And, I remember my matter-of-fact reaction. It is a day I will never forget.
At the age of 52, I was diagnosed with a stage 2b triple-negative breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. Yes, I will never forget that September day, but I chose March 23, 2010 as my cancer-free day. I was finally finished with chemotherapy and had surgery that day to remove all that remained of the tumor. It’s when I felt whole again and was able to begin the healing process. There have been many setbacks along the way, but I needed to find a place that would help me move forward.
I have always loved the beach and going there brings much needed healing for both my soul and my body. Describing my cancer journey as being part of the ocean just seemed a natural thing to do. I was fragile and felt like I kept getting knocked down again and again by the waves of life while I tried to emerge as a whole person once more. I started writing a blog about three years ago when I retired to let go of some of my fears and to share with others the lessons I have learned along the way. I wrote this poem on the 10th anniversary of my survivorship, or “thrivership” as I like to call it.
My advice to anyone going through a life-changing event whether it be a sickness, loss of a loved one or change in your circumstances for whatever reason, is to take some time away to heal both physically and mentally. The soothing, healing waters of the ocean give me the calm and strength I need. I have finally found peace and healing. Oh, I still have my moments when I get knocked down; that’s when I head back to the ocean. So, take some time for yourself, find your special place and start the process of healing.
Salty tears in salty water
Washing away the pain.
Tumbling in the waves, trying to stand
Being knocked down again and again.
Ebb and flow,
Ebb and flow.
Emerging from the ocean
Whole again; healed.
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Cindy D. Jennings in a retired elementary school media coordinator, avid reader, blogger and Nana. You can read her blog “Footprints of Hope,” here.