I’m looking back at some of my old fitness photos taken a few years ago, and I see things so differently now.
I look at these pictures, and I know I was in pain. Not physically yet, but emotionally. Spiritually, I was in trouble.
I talk a lot now about how I truly believe my cancer is part spiritual. I’ll try to explain what I mean. Stuck emotions like guilt, fear, hurt, anger, and sadness, trapped negative feelings, awful self-destructive and self-critical thoughts that festered in my heart, chest, and throat for years that I believe became the perfect breeding ground for the cancer to manifest. It didn’t cause the cancer—that was just bad genetics and sh*tty luck.
In therapy and in yoga practice, we tune in inward. We feel the body from the inside. For years now, when I’ve tuned in to these deep painful emotions, memories, and thoughts, I’ve felt physical pain. Cold sensations across my chest and down my arms when I think of anger, a stabbing hot/cold pain through my breast when I think of betrayal, and an ache in the centre of my chest when I think of grief. My throat feels tight and closed off when I imagine all the words I’ve not said, years of stuffing them down and not speaking my truth. Modifying myself to fit others’ expectations.
It is no coincidence that these are the exact areas where my physical cancer tumours now grow.
Around my heart, choking off my aorta. In my chest, making it hard to breathe. In my right breast, sending hot pain straight through to my back and in my throat and neck.
When I look at these pictures now, taken just five years ago, I see someone who is struggling. During the last 10 years, I fought hard to overcome divorce after several miscarriages, fell into relationships with narcissistic men, felt lonely all the time, doubting myself, and feeling unworthy and like a burden to my loved ones.
I did yoga regularly to help. I was seeing therapists constantly. I was on anti-anxiety and depression medication. I meditated and exercised and tried to do all the self-help things that you are supposed to do. But nothing was helping.
In the last two years after closing down my gym, I felt really lost and disconnected. I had given up in my heart. Resigned to the fact that maybe I just was too damaged, too different to have happiness. I had started to withdraw from my friends and family and isolate. Going on my solo canoe trips with my dog, Abby, was the only place I could find peace within myself. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do anymore.
In an instant, my life changed.
But I believe that it has also given me a chance to really live. Maybe without the radiation treatments that help me visualize blasting physically through the tumours, and the emotional pain behind them, maybe I would never have had a chance to heal? I believe this for myself. That’s why I say that cancer has saved my life. Before this, I was not really living. Just existing. Now I have a chance to heal, to really live life to its fullest for however long I have. To enjoy only what matters and shed all the rest.
So, even if it is just for a few more years, or for 20, from now on, I get the chance to do my life differently. I’m so grateful for this gift.
I hope others can learn from me. Please take care of yourselves. Do not let negative emotions get stuck in your body. Talk to someone. Seek out help before it becomes something so serious you get physically ill.