I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was a few days after my diagnosis and I was crying in my husband’s arms. At age 37, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that my mother succumbed to at 49 years old. My biggest worry, as I cried in his arms “I don’t want our kids to not know me!” I was just in my teens when my mom was diagnosed and before I turned 20, the roles were reversed - I became the caregiver. I never knew my mom as an adult. I had glimpses of her grace as she was in her deathbed, knew the resilience she lived the last part of her life. Yet I long for really seeing her, knowing her longings, and understanding her fears. Perhaps it was the same fear that got me curled up and bawling my eyes out, wishing for my kids to see me, to know me, to hear me and to feel me.
My husband in all his gentleness replied “ so how do you want our kids to remember you by?” And I was stumped. At aged 37, with kids aged 5 and 7, I admitted that I didn’t know. I never realized how much I was losing myself, until I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
This started my journey to bringing myself back in the picture. Ever since my diagnosis and during my treatments, I became fiercely loyal to myself. My greatest conviction became doing what served me and what would nourish my soul. It was then that I realized what filling one’s cup fully meant.
Redesigning Life to Self-fullness
As it often is the case when confronted with a life changing event, it was as if a fog has suddenly cleared and I realized how much of my life was spent for others and not fully attending to myself. I questioned how I want to show up. How I want to be visible. How I want to be engaged.
I also explored what my deep and resounding Yes lies, not only in my head but also to the bellows of my body. To know where my full no and my full yes was instrumental for me to shift careers, redesign my life and cut cords with people. It led me to re-evaluate my connections and how I own the energy I bring in the room with my presence.
Life after treatments up until now became a series of check ins to truly tune in to what is alive in me. Like a lioness protecting her cubs, I too became so fierce with my newfound zest for life. Fierce in sharing what my non-negotiables are. Fierce in keeping my space, honoring my time and preserving my energy.
Anais Nin wrote:
“the secret to a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow.”
And this is exactly how I lived and am living.
What started as an exploration of how to show up and be remembered by my children, became a powerful expression of my self-fullness. I learned how to fill my cup to the brim, knew when I am depleted, and knew when to replenish my soul. I learned to redesign life amidst a period that is painful, challenging and uncertain. What I got out of it is a renewed sense of who I am and how I want to fully embrace life. At the time of difficulty, I found my greatest strength - my self-fullness.