Hope, Heart, and Health: A Tribute to What Cancer is NOT

Three years ago, on this very day, many of you were praying for me as I went into the hospital to undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy.  Today is a day of celebration and I feel blessed, Blessed, BLESSED!

You may recall in 2011 when this healing journey began, I asked you to do one thing:  To see me as Whole.  As already healed…in the present tense.  And you did.  Thank you.

Over the three-plus years since the diagnosis that started it all, I have learned more than I’d sometimes care to remember about cancer:  the logistics of maneuvering the in’s and out’s, the physical aspects, and the emotional and psychological splat of it.  That’s what it often feels like—SPLAT!—out of control and smearing in so many different directions, there’s no way to contain your emotions at times.

But here’s one thing I’ve found to be true of cancer:  no two experiences are the same.  Everyone lives their own, unique experience.  It’s the same with divorce.  With childbirth.  With attending university.  We each travel our own, distinct journey, framing our own, remarkable path.

There are certain journeys and paths that do not have to be….    Continue Reading

We Do Not Discuss Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is not a topic in our house.  It is very rarely mentioned in conversation, if ever.  That’s not to say it’s off-limits — if my sons have a question, all they have to do is ask.

But see, we lived through it, and now we’re done.  BUT I NEVER, EVER WANT MY BOYS TO FORGET.  Because cancer is not a focal point, it could easily become forgotten — you know, the stuff that “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” is made of.  And I do not want that.  I don’t want my boys growing up, burying a part of our family’s story, and with that burial, missing the opportunity to give thanks and offer gratitude for how extremely fortunate we are.

So we take a specific day as a family to openly rejoice in the blessings of good health (and hopefully silently rejoice every other day of the year).  Today was the day to shout from the rooftops.  Today was the day to SOAR!

This morning, as my feet blindly searched for the wooly slippers that awaited them beside my bed, I gave thanks, as I do every morning…but I extended that gratitude with every step throughout the day.  Each step upstairs to wake my boys, hand them their walk-shirts, pin our numbers on, smile for the camera — through all of it, I gave thanks.  And I can only hope they did, too.

We walked beside hundreds of smiling people, all celebrating Life.  The walkers’ dogs even appeared to have smiles on their faces as they panted through the thick, muggy Dallas morning.  Click, click, click went the doggy toenails as they pranced down the road, happy little souls.  Souls who always appear grateful.

As I walked, I surveyed my boys’ faces.  My husband’s face.  I became aware of the slight hint of a smile on my own face and in the creases around my eyes.  And I knew those were the smiles of peace.  The peace one feels when you trust that all is well.

All is well, my friends.  Take a look around you, within you, walk to the mirror if you need to and look into your own eyes, inhaling and exhaling slowly until the peace arrives.  Hold it there, allow it to settle.  And give thanks.

We may not discuss breast cancer much.  But we sure do honor and celebrate the absence of it!

breast cancer

I’d like to offer a huge THANK YOU to the Cancer Support Community of Dallas for putting on such a top-notch event!  My family and I look forward to supporting you every year in the One Run and throughout the year in your numerous, generous endeavors.  For those who are unfamiliar with the Cancer Support Community (formerly known as Gilda’s Club), they provide programs and support to all patients AND their caregivers, children, etc. who are touched by cancer — all free of charge.  They are an amazing organization with a huge heart.  Look them up and see if one is in your city.

Subdued family pose:

breast cancer

breast cancer

Warming up a little….

2 Years Cancer-Free:

breast cancer

breast cancer

After the walk, watch him celebrate, see him SOAR:

breast cancer

Please subscribe.  That way you’ll never miss a dose of loving and trusting yourself!  Thank you.  Love, Leslie

A Private Love Affair

love affairI woke up yesterday morning with a smile on my face before I even remembered why I was smiling.  Subconsciously, I knew.  Consciously, I was still catching up.

Two years ago to the day, I did not wake with a smile on my face.  As my alarm sounded at 3:30 AM, I wasn’t really waking at all;  I had never completely fallen asleep.  No one in my house had really slept-slept that night, only half-slept.  The 3:30 bell was the official reminder that the day was real, there was business to take care of, and that business involved prayers, surgeons, and eventually a blessing in the form of pathology reports confirming that the cancer cells within my right breast had been eradicated.

The smile on my face when I awoke yesterday morning already knew the peace within—the peace someone knows without thinking, the peace when you remain still, silent, go within, and feel your pulse radiate the unspoken words:   All Is Well, All Is Well.  This is the kind of peace that feels a 2-year cancer-free anniversary before it completely registers on a cognitive level.

I gently opened my eyes, the smile already beginning to fade from my lips as it moved downward, tucking itself inside my heart.  And there my smile remained, for the rest of the day—through my morning Pilates class, through helping my son with his Spanish homework, through laundry and paying bills, through having friends over for a grilling-hamburgers-by-the-pool sort of evening.  My smile remained in my heart, not prepared to return to my lips—not in the form of words, at least.

No, I did not utter a word to acknowledge this special marker to anyone.  I couldn’t —I was having a private love affair with myself. Continue Reading

Uncomfortable Topic or Not, Nipple Sparing Is Huge

 

nipple sparing mastectomyUpfront Declaration:  Today’s post is not for everyone.  But because trust is about listening to your intuition, paying attention to the voice inside, then doing what you are called to do, I’ve chosen to share the video below and the topic of nipple sparing mastectomy with you today.  If you or someone you love is ever diagnosed with breast cancer, this topic will be HUGE.

Why So Taboo?

Nipples aren’t something we talk about in public.  We all have them, it’s not like they’re gender specific.  Yet, how interesting we’re able to say breast or penis with less awkwardness than we say nipple.  For whatever reason, we shy away from the word.

Because the whole topic of nipples is so taboo, I bet many of you don’t know that when a woman has a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy, she typically does not get to keep her nipples.  And for those who do happen to know this fact, have you ever stopped to contemplate what that really means… that a woman cannot keep her nipples?

Who would want to contemplate that?  It’s much more comfortable on everyone to just not think about it.

But we’re going to.Continue Reading