HOW CAN A diagnosis of breast cancer save a woman’s life when the disease itself threatens to take her last breath? When Diane Davies was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she had no idea at the time that a joyful and more meaningful life was even possible after breast cancer. But this transformation of her life didn’t come without some life lessons for Diane, lessons that changed both her perspective and her attitude, and ultimately saved her life.
Breast Cancer Saved My Life is an important message when facing all of our remaining days, no matter what our state of health is. We can learn a lot from each of the lessons that Diane shares with us in this heartfelt book.
Diane is a teacher at heart, teaching young children all of her adult life in public school. However the diagnosis of breast cancer became the classroom for her life and she was its ardent student.
I encourage you to consider how Diane’s lessons can apply to your challenging situation and how the diagnosis of breast cancer, or any cancer or traumatic experience can be improved by adding prayer, gratitude, perspective, grace, comfort, and peace directly into your daily life.
There is a powerful concept in this book that I don’t want you to miss… it’s the chapter about her healing chair and how it brought so much peace to Diane. Your choice to explore what peace feels like for you after a diagnosis of breast cancer is a powerful gift that only you can give to yourself and it can save your life as well.
In this place of peace is where we find answers that aren’t based in fear. In this place of peace is where we connect with what is best for us and not what is best for the Negative Nellies in our life. In this place of peace is where we can connect with what is truly best for our next step forward. Whether it is a chair, a walk in the park, the special place you like to be when you pray, or a corner in the closet, take the time to make it a daily ritual to go to your special healing place and connect with the peace and safety that lies within each of us. This is a powerful tool to use every day to face the healing journey before you.
Healing after a diagnosis of breast cancer takes patience. Perhaps this is one of the most challenging lessons of all because we feel time is against us when facing breast cancer. Yet the body needs time to heal and our emotions need to have a chance to move out of the darkness of overwhelm and despair and into the light of hope and possibilities. Diane addresses the lesson of patience as she learned the contrast of being impatient and not being in tune with what her body really needed. She went against her medical team’s instructions for her drainage tubes and paid a price for her impatience. She can- didly shares her experience in a way that makes each of us recall when our own impatience took a toll on our well-being.
One of the most amazing gifts we have on earth is the gift of prayer. A diagnosis of breast cancer oftentimes makes us question our faith, both faith in God and faith in ourselves. We question the power of prayer, how prayer works, and we question if we really know how to pray. Perhaps this is the ultimate lesson from the breast cancer experience is what conclusion or perspective we decide to apply. I was deeply touched in Diane’s chapter about prayer and how a group of amazing people applied the practice of prayer for her friend Sharon. Praying from the heart is one of the purest forms of love. When we pray, our hearts are touched and that is healing in itself. For the remaining days of our lives, no matter how many days we have left, being touched by the love of someone else is one of the greatest gifts of life. Accepting prayer can be hard to accept, because oftentimes
A Breast Cancer Journey: From There to Here
we are more comfortable praying or doing for someone else and not accepting prayer or kindness for ourselves.
I invite you to reflect upon your lessons in life and what the breast cancer experience is teaching you as you read this book and how your burdens can become lighter as a result of applying these lessons. Bernie Siegel M.D., author of Love, Medicine and Miracles teaches that in order to heal from our disease, we must heal our life. Remember that healing happens on many levels and the healing that our soul wants us to have can happen in the blink of an eye, and may be different from what your current belief or concept about what you think your life must look like in order to experience joy after being
diagnosed with breast cancer.
There is an irony wrapped in these lessons… all of these lessons have nothing to do with money, yet provide an enriched way of life after breast cancer, and each of these lessons have no monetary price attached to them but provide priceless value to enjoy as much as we can for the rest of our life.
May your life be touched as a result of Diane’s messages. My prayer for you is that you don’t let the diagnosis of breast cancer stop you from seeing and embracing the many blessings already in your own life.
Be a Thriver on your terms, in your style! Beverly Vote
Publisher, Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine
FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTER, Elsie Eileen Jacobs, in hope that she and her generation and beyond not have to face the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Appropriately Elsie’s favorite animal is the turtle. In the wis- dom of the totem, the turtle teaches us about walking our path in peace whether it’s inviting us to cultivate peace of mind or a peaceful relationship with our environment and then sticking to that path with determination and serenity. Those who walk with the turtle have exceptional navigation skills. They can always find their way through anything.
TWELVE YEARS AGO I faced the most terrifying journey of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hearing the word can- cer connected to my body refocused my mind immediately to plan- ning my funeral. I did not hear the discussion between my family and my doctor. I just knew that I was going to die soon.
Well I didn’t die. I am here more fully alive than ever thanks to that very breast cancer diagnosis and resulting journey. In 2005, I published From There to Here; A Breast Cancer Journey. In a effort to help me get my mind around the path that I was called upon to walk, I kept a daily journal describing what was happening and what I was experiencing and at the same time giving voice to my feelings about those very things. The interactions with my husband, family, friends, doctors and other medical staff eventually developed into many valu- able life lessons. The reading and rereading of my journal helped me to see these lessons more clearly and reinforce within me the impor- tance of what I had learned through the breast cancer experience.
Now after twelve years of survivorship, I once again reflect on those experiences and life lessons with the enhanced awareness that only time can provide. With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes less fear to cloud my vision. Twelve more years of living life through the perspective of a new lens given by my cancer experience emphasizes the increased importance of the life lessons learned on the journey. What is the sense of living if we do not continue to learn and grow through each day given to us? With my teaching
background and attitude of gratitude with its desire to help others, the logical next step is to pass on that knowledge to make the journey that much easier for those that follow.
Breast Cancer Saved My Life is my gift of love to those facing
a life-threatening diagnosis and their caregivers. The emotions, thoughts, challenges, insights and the prayers are a common part of the process of learning to come to terms with a medical encounter of this magnitude. Patients, caregivers, counselors, pastors, life coaches, medical personnel, anyone hoping to understand what another goes through when facing this type of challenge will benefit from reading this book. May my life lessons enhance your life lessons and may we pass them on to future generations so that the journey is less lonely and more filled with the spirit of love.
“AND THEN, OUT of the black beyond, like a hawk on a rat, some nameless catastrophe would swoop into your life and turn every- thing upside down and inside out forever.” (The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans, Delacorte Press)
My nameless catastrophe has a name – breast cancer. It too swooped into my life and turned everything upside down and inside out forever. The year was 2003 and the month October. I had been having yearly mammograms since the early 70’s after my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The procedure had always been routine. The technician compressed my breasts a little harder one year and then maybe not so much the next. I was being watchful and taking care of me by continuing to have the mammograms. This year the routine was broken. “We need to see you back again for a magnified view of your right breast as we’ve found two areas of calci- fications,” I heard the technician say over the phone. “Here we go”, was my first thought. I’d been expecting this call since 1971 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I sobbed when I told my husband that I was called back for another round of mammograms. After the second procedure confirming the areas of calcifications, the consensus was for me to come back in six months to reassess those two areas. The appointment was made for April 19, 2004. I wrote the date in my calendar and put it out of my mind as best I could. Cancer was knocking on my door but for some reason I was given another six months reprieve. I was after all taking care of myself.
The months went by rather quickly. One morning in early April as I was getting dressed, I noticed in the mirror that my right nip- ple seemed to be about inch lower than my left and that the right breast appeared somewhat larger in size. My Mother’s words of thirty years earlier came back to me, “I watched my breast grow and change shape Diane for over a year before I gave in and went to the doctor.” I was frozen with the realization and terror of what my own body was now showing. Had I been wrong to wait the six months? Should I have pushed harder for more answers six months ago? Second guess- ing does absolutely no good. I’d made my choice then and now must follow through on the outcome. The biopsy followed the April 19 mammogram and became my undoing. Butch was told to find some- thing interesting to do for three hours and then come back to pick me up. I would have given anything to walk out the door with him. After he left, the dam finally broke when they asked me if I was ready to begin. All of my fear, anxiety and dread could no longer be denied. The tears flowed as my apprehension took over. A patient advocate came to hold my hand and my heart and listen as I gave voice to my anxieties. She helped me to recognize my fears and call upon my intellect to bring calm and understanding. I knew that I had a mountain to climb with no chance of finding a way around it. The best route was to get started and get it over with. Two biop- sies were required with a bit of a break in between. I prayed, recited Bible verses and sang my way through the tests. Butch arrived and we headed home to start the waiting for results game.
Why do they do these tests on a Friday? It only drags out the
agony of the wait. By Wednesday of the following week I still had no results. Somewhere between the hospital and my doctor’s office the results were lost in transmission. My daughter and I had both been on the telephone trying to trace down answers. We were becoming more and more frustrated in our search. I was stretched tighter than a telephone wire and didn’t know how much longer I could hang on without answers.