Life is never linear. Rarely do people go through life without experiencing a significant event or trauma that fundamentally redefines who they are. My major event occurred in my mid-twenties, a diagnosis of breast cancer.
From The Beginning
Not long after my relationship with my ex had ended, I received the unexpected and devastating news that my best friend had died. To say I was a mess would be an epic understatement. In my twenty-five years up until that point, I hadn’t experienced personal hardship, let alone developed the skills to navigate the foreign terrain of grief and loss. Unfortunately, coping meant getting annihilated, and after two years of ‘coping’, I was delivered another blow. Cancer.
What followed were some of the toughest months I’d known. Unquestioningly, I followed the doctors’ orders and underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, followed by a gruelling protocol of chemotherapy that aimed to hit my body hard and fast. I descended into a deep depression and after several hospital stays, blood transfusions and additional months later, the ordeal was officially over, but life as I knew it was changed forever.
The treatments left me menopausal for several years, and I was on a plethora of other drugs for depression, anxiety, insomnia, and hormones. Addicted to prescription drugs, I’d never felt uglier, unlovable, and alone, and I was angry. The pain of losing my friend was still raw, and now I was dealing with the loss of my femininity. At 28, I felt like I had lost my life.
I yearned for my pre-cancer life and tried to fit back into it, however I had fundamentally changed. It was this life that got me into trouble in the first place – the way I had been living was killing me. Instinctively, I knew that I could not heal in the same environment I got sick.