How I Celebrate my Cancerversary and Why

Happy New Year, beautiful Earthlings!

(Yes, I like the word Earthling lately and it makes me smile.)

I am feeling inspired and creative. I am traveling a bit and I have to work extra hard to stay grounded, nourish my body, and keep my chronic pains at bay. I have been sure to drink lots of water, rest when my body needs it, and make pretty healthy choices with what I put into my body. I am doing my best and that is all I ever hope for.

I hope you are having a great 2020! We are in the single digit days of the year and that is really cool to me. I feel like we can still start over if we want. We can continue working towards our best (which is different day to day). We can rest or we can motivate but the best reminder is that we can choose whatever we want with each new day. How are you doing today? Did you feel inspired in the past few days? Did you try something new? Maybe spend some time journaling and reflecting on it if you like. I have spent lots of time journaling these past five days in particular. I have noticed a lot and that is why I feel ready to share some more with you.

Let’s talk about cancer again. I shy away sometimes because I don’t want to scare people away but in reality this is my world. I am here today to share that I am celebrating four years since being diagnosed with breast cancer.

I am sure some people are wondering what a cancerversary even is, so let’s start there! A cancerversary is the date that you were diagnosed with cancer. Pretty simple. Some people without cancer wonder why one would celebrate such a sad day but for me it symbolizes so much change.

This was the day before my mastectomy. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know what was coming. I’m grateful for all of it.

Truthfully, January 6, 2016 was the first worst day of my entire life. It brought up some shit for me that I needed to deal with and I probably would have never gotten around to doing. I didn’t know much then and I still don’t but I have learned a lot. Four years ago when I got the call I was working at a client in Columbus, OH. Our clients were hospitals so oddly enough I was sitting in a hospital conference room auditing patient forms when I asked the woman who called me with the diagnosis what malignant actually meant. You definitely don’t want to assume things and thankfully up to that point I never had to clarify. Four long years have passed from this day. I want to share four things that changed the game of life for me and #1 is…

  1. Ask questions even if the little voice inside tells you it is a stupid one. Clarity is key.
  2. Listen to that voice within for good reasons – listen to your body.
  3. Change is powerful. Embrace it. Feel it. Be the change.
  4. Be the best you can be for yourself and others. This doesn’t mean you have to be the best everyday. Just be the best you can be.

Finding ways to honor this day and the symbol that it brings has been weird. often I struggle to find words to explain what I am going through. I feel the emotions often. Just this morning (2 days after my cancerversary), I was thinking deeply about my life. Sometimes this is a dark space because there is so much unknown and that can be a hard pill to swallow. Every year for the past three years, on January 5th, I have gotten a tattoo to honor where I am and reflect. Whatever I ink on my body is almost like taking a Polaroid for me. It documents a feeling. So the tattoo tradition will carry on, however, this year I did not get one on January 5 because it didn’t work out that way. I actually flew into Cleveland and had a delayed flight. Different can be good. I also just got my mastectomy tattoo two months ago (currently working on a post on this experience) with David Allen so for 2020 things were different on January 5th. I hung out with family and friends and that was a nice treat and I am grateful they all cared enough to recognize how special this day is for me.

David took this photo before I left the studio. This day was so special and still is. It means so much to my healing. More to come on this topic.

In case I cannot always get a tattoo on January 5th I want to dedicate a new tradition to my cancerversary so I wrote myself a letter yesterday. I went to my all time favorite spot in Cleveland and I wrote in my journal about my feelings in that moment and I want to share:

Here is my view while I journaled this letter to myself at the West Side Market in CLE

Dear PJ, January 6, 2020

You are someone new. Not because the old you was not good enough. You have always been enough. The old you was not your truth and you will see that with time. The Universe had to show you your truth. Sadly, the most direct and painful route was chosen for you but guess what?

You are here, more magical, alive & present than EVER before. You harnessed the power within to break free from a false life.

You will cry often.

You will feel chronic aches and pains.

You WILL struggle, often.

The beauty in this struggle you are facing will be clear when the sun finally rises and shines on your face. It will feel like you went without light for so long. You were doing things for others your whole life but that was not your fault. You did your best with what you had. You were unsure and you had trauma from childhood that stuck with you. It stuck with you this entire time and you didn’t realize. What you will soon realize is that what felt so dark was filtered light. You had the light within all along; you just had to remove the layers that blocked it. I promise though, once the sun is glowing in front of your beautiful blue eyes, you will see. You will realize so much about life + love + trauma + strength.

The trauma changed you but you did not become it. Once you begin the transformation, that trauma will blossom in the form of Wildflowers. Imagine every pain (emotional and physical) that you have ever felt and then look out to nature. Those pains are now beautiful plants + creatures which you can now go and look at and enjoy for they will become your therapy for healing. Eventually you will dedicate your entire life to nature because of how powerfully it can heal.

The pain is not done and it may never completely go away. Soon you will see how the pain sits and eventually you will see why the pain stays. The pain is here for you so that on your darkest days you have something to be grateful for and look forward to. When we experience pain we can be reminded of the alternative: hope and light. Without this pain, we have less gratitude and hope for better times. On your darkest days think of the wildflowers and the sunshine and play your song. Think of sunrise and how it makes you feel so alive. You and your body have been through hell and here you stand.

  • Stronger
  • Wiser
  • Confident
  • Hopeful
  • Proud

Keep on growing. Keep on shedding. Let go of things that don’t support who you are today. Spread love and kindness to the world.

I L O V E you today and always – From this version of you to the next.

Wildflower

(Wildflower is the name I had at cancer camp this summer and it has a much deeper meaning. That is what the tattoo was going to be if I got tatted up this week. I will get a wildflower tattoo soon.)

I celebrate my cancerversary to heal. I also like to celebrate life. January 5, 2016 is my OG cancerversary but in a month and a half I get to celebrate another HUGE turning point in my life. This one was the second worst day of my life. Possible the #1 most painful day I have experienced but chronologically it came second. I am hopeful I will be able to share a blog post on that day. February 22, 2018, the day before my 28th birthday, I received a Stage 4, Metastatic diagnosis. That diagnosis is the one that changed my life immensely but as a result I feel more ME than ever before.

With pain and disease we can be gifted a whole new life with new perspectives and new hope.

I had a-life changing opportunity with Camp Belly Dance to go to Costa Rica and immerse my broken self in the jungle. Nature therapy changed my life. I moved to Colorado less than a year later to be in the mountains. That also changed my life. July of 2016 – 6 months after my OG diagnosis.

I will be spending most of my year in nature. How will you spend yours? Share in the comments.

As always thanks for following along!

Have a badass day!

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