My work with women all over the world over the past several years has grown beyond weight loss coaching into guiding women to design and live their best lives. The foundation is still in an energetic physical body, but it’s less about losing weight and more about living a mindful and joyous life.
So where does cancer come into this picture?
I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 29, 15 years ago this month.
My aunt, who is kind of second mom, is living with lung cancer.
I had a brush with cervical cancer myself a few years ago. It was then that the universe brought me together with Carrie who also had an uncooperative cervix. We bonded over rogue cervix stories and became quick soul sisters.
She also became a weight loss client.
This past August, when she was 32, my dear Carrie’s cervix decided to crank up the cancer to unimaginable levels. All of a sudden, her weight didn’t seem to be so important after all.
My friend’s current crisis was confirmation and inspiration for me to embrace taking my service in the world into a bigger scope, beyond weight loss.
Carrie has inspired me with her grace, grit and spirit every step of the way.
I asked her to share her perspective about her changing views on her body and her life. Enjoy and please comment at the end. Let’s give Carrie some love!
For as long as I can remember my body has never been enough.
I compared myself to everyone around me: friends, co-workers, air-brushed models on magazine covers.
I’ve always thought : “When I’m 10 pounds lighter…when my hair is the perfect color…when I wake up and I’m a 5’10’’ leggy blonde my life will be perfect. Then I will love and appreciate myself.”
I beat myself up because my thighs were too chunky, my hips too curvy and my stomach not flat enough.
I invested 32 years playing this mental torture game with myself.
That was until August.
I felt a lump in my low abdomen.
My first thought was, “Hmmm, that’s weird. It’s probably from my overdose of feta cheese on my vacation to Greece.”
Unfortunately, it was much bigger than a feta cheese belly.
It was a tumor and it was cancerous.
In an instant I went from a life-long body shamer to a warrior facing a battle. It no longer mattered what I physically looked like on the outside. What was going on inside was much more critical than how I looked in the mirror.
I had to be strong and, at the same time, surrender to whatever needed to happen to get that thing out of me. That meant a major surgery and 5 days in the hospital. It also meant 6 rounds of chemotherapy after that.
I have a 4 inch uneven incision down the middle of my abdomen. A permanent reminder of what I’ve been through.
I am on more pills than I can count some days. I make more trips to the doctor than a 90-year-old. My hair has all fallen out and my face is at times unrecognizable.
Sad and depressing, right? Well, let me tell you, it’s not easy.
But there is incredible beauty in all this shit: I now have come to know myself like never before.
I read this quote from the book The Velveteen Rabbit recently and it brought me to tears:
“You become, it takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand”
Through this process I have come to appreciate my body as an incredible machine!
It can get rounds of poisonous chemo drugs pumped into it. Survive the side effects. Then feel somewhat normal a few times each month.
It’s organs can process all of the drugs and, at the same time, create new healthy cells.
I’ve finally noticed that I have the most beautiful eyes that seem to change color from a beautiful green to a soft light brown.
It actually feels liberating to not have any hair on my head.
It’s as if I have shed all the layers to get to my core being.
I have been forced to literally live one day at a time which is so difficult for a planner like me.
Somedays I can make it though a hot yoga class. Some days walking to the kitchen and back to the couch is good enough.
I no longer give power or labels to food like “good” or “bad.” I eat what I want, when I want it and appreciate the days my taste buds work.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not shoveling in french fries every day nor am I only drinking green juice. I simply have stopped giving food power. I have the power.
Right now I truly love myself as I am.
I have accepted and appreciate that each day brings it’s own challenges and it’s own miracles. I’ve always considered myself an optimistic person, but at the same time, I used to like something big to look forward to whether it be a concert or a vacation.
Today, however, I am happy I woke up without a headache and my mind works well enough to piece these thoughts together to write this. I am happy I could cook my mom breakfast instead of vice versa.
Happiness is and always will be a choice no matter what our circumstance. I decided that from the beginning of my treatment that I would not allow myself become a victim despite the storm I was facing.
As Sara says, “Choose joy” and “Love yourself today, as is.”
Start small if you need to. Look in the mirror and give yourself some love by telling yourself something kind. It’s time to give some love to the most important person in your life: YOURSELF.
I choose the phrase “I am enough.” You can pick something else that speaks to you. Tell yourself that phrase until you believe it day in and day out. It may take some time.
Hell it took me 32 years, but please don’t wait any longer. Start TODAY because you are worth it!