I will never forget the dreaded call from the on-call MD stating, "I am so sorry, you have breast cancer". My veins pulsed with a rush of adrenaline, while my mind raced and reviewed my 36 years of life. One of humanities ultimate fears was now my reality?!
In the days following, I had profound moments of clarity and awareness. What if this cancer is a wake-up call? I have to admit I had relief that I would be leaving a job that I had allowed to suck the life out of me. As a sensitive person who worked intensely with people with severe mental illness, my self-care and been depleted to nil. I had become more invested in the lives of my clients then my own life. This had slowly crept up on me, but it ultimately affected my relationships with my family. Were my people-pleasing, self-sacrificing days coming to an end? Little did I know, my intuition about this was spot on!
As a person who has dealt with anxiety and depression throughout my life, I have learned many and varied coping skills. A hot shower with intentional thoughts and prayer has come to be one of my most sacred rituals. The day after my first chemotherapy treatment I was praying while letting the hot water do it's magic. In my relaxed state, a panda bear popped in my mind. The bear was in a tree, slowly eating bamboo. It was relaxed and at ease. I quickly got out my totem animal book and looked up the symbolic meaning of Panda. Panda symbolizes self-care, tranquil strength, seeking out solitude, going with the flow, and a positive outlook on life. It was in this moment the Panda became my pink ribbon!
When you have a cancer diagnosis or know someone who does, those little pink ribbons are constantly in your face. They are on car windows, water bottles, scarfs, coffee mugs and even candy! The ribbons made me think about the cancer even when I didn't want to think about the cancer. I understand the idea, but for me it just didn't feel right. It didn't feel good to "fight" anything, especially not something that was part of me. In my heart I knew that I would find solace in practicing panda's medicine. I would nurture myself, accept help when offered and look to God/Spirit for help.
At that time I didn't know the outcome of my diagnosis, but what I did know is that Panda was my emblem for healing and self-love. The bear reminded me to slow down and take the time to heal from the inside out.
Love you through!