Although I’m going to share part of my healing journey with you, my journey is our journey.  Though unique in our personal stories, breast cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers have all walked similar paths, celebrated similar successes and encountered similar challenges. What we do have in common stacks higher than what we don’t, and just by that fact, we are strengthened and empowered.

There is much to be gained from each other when we come together, distinct individuals to be sure, but anchored and comforted in the idea that, at our core, our deepest human desires are the same: to have loving relationships with our spouse/partner, friends, colleagues, families and extended families; a strong connection to our spiritual faith; good physical health and a sense of purpose for being, to name a few.

On April 10th, 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you would assume, the diagnosis shook my foundation and brought nearly all external life processes to a screeching halt. In the moments after hearing the diagnosis, I was reminded that I had the power to choose my attitude for how I would handle the situation.

My instinct was to react as I usually do – seeing the glass as half full. I tend to look for a silver lining, even in difficult situations. But this, THIS was  the test of a lifetime for an eternal optimist. I have faith that everything happens as it does for a reason, whether brought about by divine design or by human manifestation. From that perspective, I chose to lean into this difficult situation and learn what I was supposed to learn.

We all know that we have only so much control over the events that take place in our lives. But what we DO have control over is how we respond to those events. It’s like a switch in our heads we can choose to flip, to wallow in woe-is-me despair or take the lemons and make triple layer lemon meringue pie. It’s ok to feel grief, fear and sadness; experience it fully, learn the lessons and then move on. Don’t buy real estate on that land.

Cancer has gone from being a dreaded enemy to a catalyst for my own growth, a conduit through which to pass from one level of awareness to another. As its temporary host, I am learning the lessons and welcoming the wisdom it offers. It served its purpose and now I bid it a fond farewell, in gratitude and in light.

While going through this journey, I was blessed  with amazing family and friends.  They were my angels.   How do you begin to express gratitude for such enormous love and support during a time  when all you’ve done is receive? I begin by being very grateful and by doing what I can to pay it forward and help others in whatever way I can.

My hope is that we can all carry this care and compassion into the world, and maybe together we can help each other heal and thrive in ways that we expect to and in some that we don’t, through our words, our intent, our love, our commonality and our caring. Maybe together we can all learn to flip that switch to the positive side, every time. And just maybe if we continue to take this amazing sense of compassion and purpose into the world, the legacy we leave will be generations that need not be concerned about breast cancer as it will be a thing of the past.  In love and light, Patricia San Pedro 

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