This week’s guest blogger is Roberta Aberle, a MyLifeLine.org member. Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, but raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, Roberta Aberle has been surrounded by cancer her entire life. Diagnosed with the rare cancer, Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma Stage IIIC, on Leap Day, 2012; after a total hysterectomy in 2009 was performed to reduce her risk for developing cancer, Roberta has been both a fighter and advocate for rare, sub-types of cancer. “I’d love to see other cancers reach the level of awareness and fundraising that breast cancer has with the Susan G. Komen Foundation,” she says. Roberta has been on multiple treatment regimens since her diagnosis in 2012, with the goal remaining to see some phase of remission. Her treatment has included clinical studies, surgery, intraperitoneal/hyperthermic chemotherapy, but has also incorporated many holistic approaches such as journaling, meditation, aquatics and nutritional strategies. Her primary goal is to not only reach remission but to use her experience to help demystify the cloak around cancer for caregivers by speaking honestly and authentically about the insights gained living the role of a cancer patient.
In my travels this week, it was a huge reminder of how radical the pace of life truly is. Especially in places of mass transit, like an airport, the flurry of people racing one from place to another is astounding. I used to be one of those people. My life revolved around the next trip, the next big project, the next deadline, the next …. whatever. I didn’t sleep enough hours a night, I worked too many long days, in fact, at this time of day on Friday, you’d sometimes still find me chained to my desk.
My weekends were ruled by all the errands and “need to do’s”, I would often say it was as if my weekends just ‘evaporated’ before I found myself back at work on a Monday morning far too fast.
It’s exhausting to even write about.
Then I got my diagnosis and so much of that life came to a screeching halt. Of course, it picked up pace with other types of activities; tests, scans, labs, treatments, etc. And before I knew it I was back living a frenetic pace. I even worked some days before my chemotherapy because I had a few hours beforehand. That’s a little extreme even I can finally admit.
For some reason, this week I realized that I cannot possibly keep up with my old pace now. I am too worn out from all of the tests, labs and appointments, too fatigued by the treatments, too weak from the assaults on my body.
But rather than feeling discouraged by these restrictions, I understand their purpose.
I need to heal. I have taken in about as much chemotherapy as a person can and I kept right on functioning to a degree. I have been out of weekly treatments for barely a month and yet I keep asking myself when I am going to feel stronger and more energetic.
Talk about expecting too much too soon.
This week I stumbled upon a variety of ways to help myself heal in the most unexpected ways. Whether staring at a long stretch of road or even waiting out airport delays; there is the opportunity to focus on healing. We have the power to create our own healing space in the midst of whatever surrounds us. It doesn’t have to be a place, it doesn’t require tons of effort nor does it have to consume a great amount of time.
Instead of getting sucked into the stride of others, the nuisances of public places, the inevitable down time that comes with any commute, job or nearly any endeavor these days, I let my mind drift to a mantra or literally just focused on the purity of the moment to avoid the headache associated with racing around. You don’t have to be able to go to a spa or sanctuary to escape the busyness of life. You can escape into your own healing space.
In flight, scrunched into a window seat, the flight oversold, overhead bins burgeoning and the requisite crying baby in the seat directly in front of me, I focused on the plumes of clouds that we climbed through, marveling at their majesty. The billows stretched as far as you could see, a virtual ocean of white, formations crafted from the swirling and fluid mist. It was like flying through a piece of art. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes. Those big tears that literally cascade from your eyes and saturate your face. I found a space to heal.
At nightfall with the satiny feel of cool linen against my skin, atop a cushiony bed with the comforting smell of the night air wafting in the window brought another brief moment to reflect on healing. Breathing in the scent of fresh-brewed coffee before turning on any technological gadget, yet another space to think about healing.
Woven in throughout the day, in the simplest of acts, it is possible to escape the rat race.
It doesn’t feel like an effort, it doesn’t feel forced, it doesn’t even feel like another thing I should make myself do. It feels natural and welcome. By sheer observation and trying not to contrive something else to add to my routine as a goal or a task, it is possible to just use awareness of your surrounding as a means to heal. The colors, the sights, the scents, the patterns, the vibrancy, the sounds, the tastes, are all facets to appreciate in any situation.
All it takes is the recognition to pause, to find what is unique in every moment that can contribute toward healing and remind myself, “I am healing. I am healing. I am healing.”