The 5 Year Journey: From a Cancer Diagnosis to Finding Peace

Lorie-

Ep. 78

This month is an anniversary for many things…

Some amazing and some,  well not so much.

I started this show almost 2 years ago. It was 3 years after my first cancer diagnosis, after multiple surgeries,  2 years of cancer treatments and recently getting the all clear on a scan. The world was adjusting to this new realm of living in a world struggling to understand a pandemic. I was working in the funeral home industry dealing with families going through the hardest times they had ever experienced and at the same facing my own thoughts of mortality. So many unknowns. It was definitely uncharted territory for all of us.

Today I am going to be talking about my 5 year journey -and the impact of a cancer diagnosis. 

I should probably just call this episode “lost and found”. 

After my cancer diagnosis, it felt like I lost myself and over the last 5 years I have been slowly finding myself again. Let’s just say It has been quite a trip.

Was I going to continue finding ways to stay on the treadmill I was on? Or was I going to jump off and find a new way of thinking? I’m celebrating my 5th anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis.  Five years ago, I went to the doctor to have a biopsy done and a couple of days later I got that phone call. The one that spins your world out and you hear “you have cancer”. It still chokes me up. It is still an emotional moment. You think five years is a long time and yet somehow it’s not.

I was reminded of this recently in my 2 month search…for my dress.

So this is a crazy situation, hear me out…there is a moral to the story.

It may sound a little silly to start but believe me this will make sense as I tell it to you.

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I bought a dress that I absolutely love and wore it on a weekend getaway, just days before I ended up having surgery in June. In fact, I wore it home from the hospital to comfort me – and to adjust my mindset after going through this crazy time. 

Isn’t it interesting how we associate events with things? 

Anyway, in the process of healing and getting better and getting life back on track, I could not find that dress! I had no idea where it went. There’s not that much room on a boat to hide. I searched everywhere and believe me I have all my clothes organized, so I was very disappointed when I could not find this dress. It could only be so many places. So, as a sweet gesture, my husband bought me a replacement. I was grateful to have a dress back, but it didn’t feel the same as the original one. I don’t know if you can relate to this or not, but there was something special about that specific dress after everything it had gone through with me.

I finally resolved that it was gone and I was happy to have the new dress to wear. I let it go, I put it out of my mind and moved on.

So, fast forward 2 months. We ordered Chinese food – to go. They didn’t give us fortune cookies, so I grabbed a couple and threw them in the bag. After dinner we read our fortunes and mine said I was going to get a surprise. I was excited to find out what the surprise was, because who doesn’t want something fun. At least I was hoping it was something fun and happy! My mind flashed to different people and possibilities of what it could be.

The next day, I was going through my outfits, packing for a trip to visit family and back in the corner of a shelf was the first dress! I couldn’t believe it. As organized as I am with everything sorted and put in packing cubes to keep things contained…there it was all by itself on the shelf. I had gone through every cabinet, bag, suitcase throughout the whole boat and never saw it. I was so happy! And I was surprised just like the fortune cookie said.

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Life may not be as simple as finding a lost dress or any material item, but we can find a correlation to life in this story.

Lesson: Acknowledge and then release what you cannot control. 

Reflecting on the search for the dress, the feelings I experienced. The joy of having this beautiful dress to wear. The comfort of wearing the dress and enjoying how it made me feel. The disappointment when it went away. The sadness when I knew it was gone…

In some ways it felt like when I let it go, I let God/the universe go to work for me. It was a trust thing that I had to learn. I could search and search and search and force it to happen, but there wasn’t anything more I could do besides just being patient and letting things happen letting things unfold. I released control.

Life is emotional and raw. It hurts our hearts. It can become a numbing of emotions and living in survival mode. Consumed by worry and fear and loss of control over our lives. 

As we all know, there are situations in life we can’t control, we can push and push and force things to happen but sometimes those aren’t the things we’re supposed to have. And when things come to us from the forcing of events, we find it isn’t what we really needed. It detours us from the path we should have been on. When we live life in a way where we are impatient, we get into a situation where we fight the direction we need to go in. If it’s not flowing, we are not trusting the process.

By letting go of what I had no control over even though I was disappointed and even sad, I moved forward knowing that I did what I could, I exhausted all my options and I walked away. And even though it wasn’t immediate,  lo and behold I got my dress back.

When we apply these principles to our actual daily life, imagine how different things would be. It is something I try so hard at times to do. it’s a practice. It’s definitely not perfect and I have learned this lesson over and over and over again. We all do.

Yes, putting that thought process into practice the next time something comes up that I have no control over or I need to let go of will allow me to gracefully move forward.  I need to pay attention to that. I need to because I have to see what happens through it. I need to learn the lesson and understand better what is out there. We think we know what we need, but I realized there are other forces that are out there to guide us. Sometimes when we can’t control situations, we have to have faith and trust in the process.

I didn’t ask for cancer, no one does, but it sure found me. It found me in an aggressive way. I watched my so-called normal life implode. This wasn’t my first big fight, but it was one of those final straw moments. 

I was in a good place, life was busy and moving along. I felt like I was happy and enjoying the small rewards. Yes, I know work can be a drag, but I loved what I did…I was helping families going through the loss of their loved ones. Doing what I could to make a horrible time a little easier by taking care of their needs and assisting in the transitions to a life that was drastically changed. 

Well, then it was my turn to take care of me. It was an abrupt stop in life as I knew it. Having the feeling that something is really wrong and then hearing “you have cancer” wreaks havoc in your world. It was like a black hole opened up and sucked me in. I’m not a dramatic person, but I can tell you it surpassed anything I had experienced before.

I worked so hard to get back on the track I was on. Silly me! That track was gone…

It took years for the backlash to come. With a second diagnosis within a year and a half  and the birth of a pandemic I didn’t have a chance to stop and figure it all out. Remember, I was working in the funeral industry and the emotional side was wearing me thin. This insane combination in that short time did me in. I had to make some big decisions. 

With awareness comes responsibility.  When I became aware of my situation, I had no excuses for making changes in my life. Was I going to continue finding ways to stay on the treadmill I was on? Or was I going to jump off and find a new way of thinking?

I’m celebrating my 5th anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis. 

5 years ago, I went to the doctor to have a biopsy done and a couple of days later I got that phone call. The one that spins your world out and you hear “you have cancer”. It still chokes me up. It is still an emotional moment. You think five years is a long time and yet somehow it’s not. When I relive that moment of getting that phone call and how everything just totally spiraled out in my life and how I had to get a hold of myself and do what I have to do to get through that. To survive it. 

There’s a lot that happened so quickly. There were a lot of new things and a lot of craziness going on. 

I had so much healing to do and a lot of faith in everybody that was working to help me survive this. I can tell you that puts a strain on you. It is a strain on life and challenges you to think differently. It is difficult and so putting things out into the universe, letting things go and just managing how you are feeling can feel scary. 

Not worried about being so controlling over everything relieves a lot of that stress and pressure that you put on yourself.

When I decided to start making these changes, life changed pretty quickly. I transitioned to a life I looked forward to living. 

That is how I ended up here…talking to you from a sailboat.       

What have I learned? 

Is the lesson to let go and let God or the universe or whatever you believe in step in and help you? 

I could sit here and think why me? Why did I have to go through everything I’ve gone through? And it’s hard to not do that sometimes. But when we change that mindset, when we flip that script, that way of thinking, when we make that resolve that we’re not going to fight it anymore and learn how to work with it, that is when we see the blessings, that is when we understand the whole picture. As opposed to one single event. 

It is still something I work on. It ebbs and flows. It is the anniversaries and the reminders of the path that I have been on that stirs up the memories and also the chance to find gratitude.

I have learned more about myself, my thought process and how the past has shaped me. I have learned to reach out to others for support and guidance. To find the reason this has happened for me and not to me. This is one of the most difficult parts of this experience.

What things in your life do you feel like you’ve tried to control so much? Does it feel like it backfires on you? What is it you can do differently? 

I love this quote from the late Wayne W. Dyer “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”  

So let’s talk about how we can shift this process to assist us in living a more peaceful and calm life, a more joyful and hopeful life. To find freedom in our circumstances.

I have made it a priority to work on myself. This is an evolution, this is a transformation. 

It is something that I keep working on because I know it’s not a one and done. 

Finding courage even when It gets a little more difficult at certain times of the year because of anniversaries of the bad things that have happened can be challenging.

Creating a daily routine that supports you, energizes you and fills you with hope will certainly start you in the right direction.  Practicing mindfulness is a great way to start this process. Be purposeful with your thinking.

Getting your thoughts on paper or talking with someone, purging your mind can help you gain clarity on the craziness that can happen in your mind and in your life. 

I think expressing yourself, as hard as it can be, creates space for you to just be you. To have a place to be at peace and just be present. I share this with you and at the same time I remind myself that these are the essential habits I need to remember throughout the day. Sometimes moment by moment. To calm my thoughts and give myself a break.

This practice overtime will become more natural. Think of it like this. When you learned how to do something for the first time…it felt awkward. Riding a bike, driving, new job responsibilities. The uncertain feelings you had and the focus you needed to get through the task. But as time went on, as you repeated the activity, you realized it became more of an automatic response. You shifted to being able to do something so step by step to breezing through it. So, we know we have the capability to learn new things to the point that we retrain our brains and it becomes second nature. 

Creating a life of peace is possible. I’m not saying it is easy. If it was, we would live in a different world. Let go of your expectations and become mindful of where you are in this present moment.

Know everything is in order and everything for a reason. As hard as that is…it is.

Remember~ Stay Anchored ⚓

Listen to this important episode to hear more.

How do you sail through life? Join me on this endeavor! I would love to grow this amazing support community!

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Published by Lorie

Hello and welcome to Sailing Through Life! My name is Lorie. I am a 2-time melanoma cancer survivor and a sailor - in my heart and on the water. I want to be a beacon of light to others with life challenges and be an inspiration to stay positive while going through these life-altering events. Join me as I set sail on this new adventure... Sailing Through Life.

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