Today is what I have come to call my RE-Birthday. September 20th. On this day, 11 years ago, I got back on a airplane to head back to my last year of university after 3 solid months of a blindsiding run in with ovarian cancer. This day symbolizes so many things for me. Rebirth. A Second Chance at Life. Perseverance. Transformation. Awakening. New Beginnings. New Perspectives. A long road to recovery and making sense of one catastrophic summer. It is a day that I always take to reflect on my life and my journey, connect with my soul, and honour the fact that I am ALIVE. And if you're reading this, you're ALIVE too. So, pause and breathe in the gratitude for all the places, spaces, events, people, and experiences who have impacted and polished all that you are today.
Today I want to share about 11 years of Awareness. Today I want to spread AWAREness. Here goes:
Ovarian cancer day was back in May. Ovarian Cancer month is September.
As some of you may have noticed, I am not a big advocate for cancer awareness. What I mean by this, is that I do not participate in fundraisers, go to cancer awareness events, or the like. This may seem peculiar given my experience with ovarian cancer at such a young age; however, let me explain: I have found that most (not necessarily all) “cancer awareness” is often coming from a place of fear, which actually creates more fear and perpetuates the problem.
For example, Medical News Today states that 1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime. Why do you think, even though so much funding goes into cancer awareness, the prevalence of cancer has been steadily on the rise? Does that awareness create expansion? Not for most folks.
So how could it be possible that cancer fear mongering actually fuels the metaphorical cancer fire, so to speak? Well, by creating a fear response in the bodymind, the nervous system goes into protection mode, aka fight or flight mode. I am sure you have heard of this in one way or another. You can feel when your body has a fear-based overreaction – you get sweaty, you hold your breath, your heart rate spikes, and you get ready to defend yourself or run away. The thing with our nervous system is that it only has two modes of operation: fight or flight (sympathetic) or rest and digest (parasympathetic). When your bodymind is triggered into fight or flight, your body is only concerned about your survival. Thus, it is inevitably unable to heal, rest, or digest as it’s simply not a priority. Thus, fear-based cancer awareness can actually encourage a fear epidemic, which puts immune systems in freeze mode, and in my opinion creating greater susceptibility to cancer. (Again, from my perspective and in my option).
Now just let that sink in for a moment. You hear someone’s horrific cancer story and think “Whoa. OMG. I hope to God that doesn’t ever happen to me. Holy shit, I’d better book a physical!”
Whoa nelly! Now, hold up just a minute.
What if instead of spreading fear-based awareness about cancer, we started spreading awareness about SELF? What if we started spreading body awareness? What if we started helping people connect within, to listen to the body’s clues, to express emotions, take care of their mental health, and to actually follow their hearts? What kind of revolution would be created then?? Breathe and reflect on that for a moment.
Now, this may sound out there. And this isn’t to say that being aware of symptoms to pay attention to your body is not helpful. This also is not to say don’t take a stand for what you believe in. However, I do believe that the way awareness is currently spread about cancer typically creates a fear response in the body when it’s pointed as “check your boobs, or you else you’ll die from cancer.”
So, how can cancer awareness actually create true awareness (expansion) rather than fear (constriction)?
The idea that comes to mind for me is: what about spreading the growth stories that have come from people that have used their wake-up call to shift their perspective and create change? What if we shifted the focus to sharing aha moments, profound realizations, and life-altering actions that people have taken, rather than adding to the fear epidemic by spreading more fear? There is enough fear in the world. What are you doing to turn your wounds into wisdom? What are you doing to express your emotions, share your truths, and break down your fears so that cancer does not have to become your reality? That is what I feel could create some real change.
As a 21-year-old cancer patient, the questions that went through my head and the understanding I craved to wrap my head around were incredibly indigestible. How could such a catastrophic health event happen to someone who was so (physically) healthy? In the almost 11-year quest that has led me deep into the depths of my soul, I have moved deep into consciousness, healing, belief systems, and beyond. Along the way, I have uncovered some pretty profound truths.
In order to portray this evolution, let me paint a picture of the young woman I was BEFORE cancer: I was a headstrong, very left-brained, athletic girl, that was determined and stubborn. I was extremely logical, rational, judgmental, and very intellectual. I was an elite athlete on an academic and athletic volleyball scholarship studying sports medicine, who juggled high grades, daily practices, home games, team roadtrips, and workouts, with a bit of a social life mixed in. I had extremely outrageous expectations for myself and was intensely self-critical. I was driven. I pushed my body to extremes, thinking “no pain, no gain.” Mind over matter, right? But I didn’t understand how poorly I was treating myself. I took care of myself in the physical realm only – eating pretty healthily and exercising almost to a fault. Speaking of faults, I focused on those a lot. I believed in what I could see – the physical and tangible. I believed emotions were weakness, so I stuffed them deep down within myself. I needed an intense wake-up call to get my attention. Boy, did the Universe deliver!
Here is what I discovered: I was so disconnected from my mental and emotional aspects of myself that I didn’t notice the red flags and the caution signs along the way. I was quite emotionally and mentally abusive to myself. My rational mind was so strong, that I regularly (if not completely) discounted my intuitive intelligence, which led to going against my truth time and time again, and instead doing what I ‘thought’ I should do. This often led to a whole whack load of guilt, along with a slew of other emotions that were perpetually stuffed back down into my body.
I uncovered that I had no idea what I actually wanted without being told what I was good at, or what I would be likely to succeed at. I never paused to ask myself “What lights me up?”
Almost 11 years after the cosmic hammer of ovarian cancer, I’m sure that 21-year-old me would not remotely recognize the 32-year-old woman I have become. For that, I will be forever grateful for the brief, but profound, awakening I received with divine timing.
Now, you will see a woman who listens to the messages from her body with connected awareness, connects with her emotions on a much more immediate basis, communicates much more openly, and devotes a lot of time to self-care, reflective journaling, meditation, and thinking outside-the-box. I am often found imagining the impossible possibilities that 21-year-old me would have thought were outrageous and ridiculous. But in dreaming big, utilizing my imagination, and questioning my beliefs, I have accomplished things that 21-year-old me would have forever dubbed as “impossible” pipe dreams. 32-year-old me regularly investigates what lights me up, and follows it with complete trust and reckless abandon. I give myself permission to grow, change, evolve, and let fall away that which is no longer aligned with who I have become. I expand my own limits, I ask A LOT of questions, evoke deep self-reflection, and do a lot more observing and listening. I am intensely aware that life is happening for me, that there are no coincidences, and that I am responsible for how I experience my experience. Sure, I am still my own worst critic, but at least I can hear my limiting and egoic self-talk, catch it, and uncover the deep-seated fear or belief at the root. The confidence in my own skin that I have discovered in getting to know who I truly am, is something that has profoundly impacted what I am able to create. As with most humans, I’m sure, that confidence and self-acceptance still has plenty of mileage to go.
Compared to 21-year-old me, I now know that my understanding is not absolute and never will be, yet is rather ever-evolving and growing with each question I ask. I enjoy connecting with people who can expand my perspective. I seek out experiences that open my mind. And I believe there is potent healing in reflecting on my experience in the mirror that is life.
Now doesn’t that paint a life-altering before and after portrait?
I would have never been able to imagine I would be where I am, doing what I love, with a level of passion and devotion that most can only hope for. That is a damn good gift. It has taken me a long while to get here, but I know I am just getting started. The journey lasts a lifetime and I can only imagine what is in store. Can you imagine what is in store for you??
What wake up calls have you been delivered?
How could you reframe those wake up calls to find the gifts (aka golden nuggets) that are buried within?
Note: It can require some real digging, but is totally worth the healing it will bring.
So let’s bring it back: What could cancer mean in regards to my story?
Well let’s first start by investigating what cancer represents. According to Louise Hay’s book Your Can Heal Your Body, “cancer represents deep hurt, long standing resentment, carrying hatred that literally eats away at the body.” Whoa. Talk about stuffing emotions down for my the better part of my life. Uh-huh. I have been doing a lot of unpacking and taking ownership of my experiences for the last 11 years. Talk about freeing.
Now let’s look at what the ovaries represent. They represent the point of creation; Creativity. In referring to the point of creation, I did have a lot of beliefs to work through about femininity – emotional expression, vulnerability, and rejection of self. (Who doesn’t right?) Along the way, I uncovered beliefs that emotional expression showed weakness and the way to thrive in the world was to be masculine. And interestingly enough, 21-year-old me didn’t believe I had a creative bone in my body. I believed that creativity was irrational and pointless. I firmly adopted learned facts as absolute truths, which ended up creating an incredibly tight, rigid mental box and viewpoint of reality. No wonder I needed to have that smashed to bits. It is only in the last less than two years that I have actually dismantled enough limiting beliefs to allow my creativity to begin to awaken and shine through. That experience, in itself, has been incredibly potent.
I truly believe that cancer was a gift for me – and that it also could be for other people as well. What if all extreme happenings are wake up calls to try to get your attention?
Do you actually needed a wild awakening in order to give yourself permission to find what lights your fire, to let go of all that squishes your soul, and to heal the parts of you that are hurting?
Do you actually need a wake-up call to give yourself permission to LIVE your best life?
My best advice is to start honouring your soul, your desires, your emotions, and your dreams right now. Speak your truth. Shine your light. Live your purpose. Then the Universe won’t need to send you a wake up call.
CHEERS to Being ALIVE!
About the Author:
Kristin Pierce loves chai lattes, inspirational quotes, writing in coffee shops, and questioning beliefs. Kristin is a self-awareness educator whose mission is to empower others to deconstruct the limiting beliefs that are keeping them small and stuck in order to rise to their potential, come alive, and impact the world. She is the Founder of Inner Compass Academy and Inner Compass Books. Kristin a MindScape Instructor, Advanced BodyTalk Practitioner, Registered Massage Therapist, & Children's Book Author.
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