Milk and Honey By: Rupi Kaur (2015)
Resilience is wisdom, acceptance, patience, flexibility, and endurance. It takes practice.
When I read this page in Rupi Kaur’s book I immediately think of the resilient women in my breast cancer groups.
I belong to a number of Facebook communities, national and international, where women of various ages are living with advance stage breast cancer. I’m also incredibly lucky to have a local support group of women with early/advanced stages of breast cancer.
These women have had chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, reconstruction, hormonal suppression therapies, and/or more. They’ve had complications and side-effects from treatments, and anxiety waiting for scan results. They’ve experienced body image issues. They’ve spent a lot of time in appointments. They’ve had sleepless nights, and fear of the unknown. They've gone through treatment while taking care of young children. They've continued to work throughout treatment, or struggled going back to work after treatment has ended. They've lost friends to the disease. Most important, they’ve all rode the mental and emotional rollercoaster that comes with the territory.
Resilience when facing cancer doesn’t come easy. The trauma is real and bouncing back is hard. But somehow you just do. Especially with metastatic cancer, when the grief just keeps coming, in one form or another, you have to figure out how to endure. When I think about everything I’ve been through in the past three years, I’m amazed I haven’t completely lost my mind.
Support groups certainly help. In my local community, there are many women who have finished treatments, yet remain a part of the group to offer support and friendship. Whether this is through answering questions on Facebook, attending fundraising and social events, or sending “thinking of you” messages. The ability to hold space and help others even though it might bring up past trauma, that’s also resilient.
I think of my friend Jessica who passed away from metastatic breast cancer in October, 2017. She was always there to offer advice. When I had my first experience with pain, I messaged her asking what I should do. When I entered the palliative care program she helped me reframe it as a positive and assured me it was a good move. When I started chemotherapy she sent me a card with the most encouraging and touching message inside. For her life celebration she had picked the readings and the people she wanted to participate. She also wrote her own obituary, and much more, I’m sure. Now that she’s gone I realize how wise she was.
This post is for the women who are wise, keep bouncing back, and are a source of support to others experiencing similar trauma. You are striking.