On October 1 I had the opportunity to share my story with MPP’s and staff of the Ontario Provincial Government. I was the guest speaker for an advocacy reception hosted by Rethink Breast Cancer. The issue that they were hoping to bring awareness to is that there is a huge need for province wide nurse navigators for young women diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t get a chance to tape my talk so I have included the text of the story I shared instead. I was honoured to be there and hopefully help make some change for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
In 2011 I gave birth to our second daughter Adria. That year kicked off with the excitement of a new baby and watching our older daughter get use to her role as big sister. I started out my mat looking forward to life with our girls and all the new adventures it would bring.
I never expected one of those adventures to be a cancer diagnosis. What started out as a year of new life ended with me staring at my mortality in the face.
When Adria was only 8 months old I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. I had a tumor that was almost 3 cm and had already spread to my lymph nodes. I still remember the day my GP called me, only 2 hours after going for a breast ultrasound for what I thought at the time was only a blocked milk duct as a result of breast feeding the baby. Turned out it wasn’t.
I heard her say that I needed to go for a biopsy to confirm that it was breast cancer. In that moment could feel my adrenaline starting to kick in and my heart start to race. I think I even stopped breathing for a minute as her words sunk in. I continued to hold my breath for the next few weeks as we went through what felt like hundreds of tests and doctor’s appointments.
It was the start of so many big changes for our little family.
I ended up going through 5 months of chemo, having a mastectomy, radiation and then delayed breast reconstruction. My tumor was estrogen positive so I am also on Tamoxifen for 5 years.
In the middle of all this, my own mother who was always a source of strength for me, passed away from cancer related complications while I was in the middle of going through chemo. I wasn’t sure how much more my heart could take. But I knew that my choice was clear, I was going to kick this and enjoy a full and happy life with my family. Nothing was going to stop me.
It was a challenge – and our daughters were so young. They wanted to know why mommy had no hair and so many band aids. We tried to keep things normal for them – even though it was far from normal. We had daily kitchen dance parties to keep my spirits up. They would consist of me dancing around in my pj’s,bald following a routine my 5 year old was leading. It was fun and my girls were my ray of sunshine through it all.
As was my hubby, he drove me to all of my appointments and treatment sessions. He had to miss work sometimes which was stressful since he was the only one working while I was in treatment. I was lucky because he never complained even though I knew he was anxious about what this all really meant for us as a family and if I would be around to raise the girls with him?
My diagnosis affected all of us in so many ways.
We were completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tests and appointments I had. It was like a full time job to keep track of it all. My husband and I had to research all these new drug names and read up on everything we were told. It was confusing and scary. How did I know if every doctor I saw would know exactly what was going on with my treatment. There were so many people involved in my team and I didn’t want anything to fall through the cracks. It was hard to make so many life changing decisions so quickly.
Thankfully I was one of the few lucky women who had a nurse navigator during treatment. In fact most of the women who I have met didn’t. Their experience with treatment was very different than mine and I truly believe it is because I had Christel, my nurse extraordinaire guiding me through it. She is the nurse navigator for the Pynk Program at Sunnybrook. She connected me to a fertility specialist and a plastic surgeon to discuss all of my options before treatment. She explained things to me when I was confused, kept track of my appointments and talked me through many teary conversations about what was happening to me during treatment. Treatment was the hardest thing I have ever done and I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it would be without a nurse navigator.
While in treatment I started to feel like I needed more support from other young women. Honestly it was very hard to find anything geared ay my age group since the majority of women diagnosed are over 40.
I looked into Rethink Breast Cancer’s programs and I decided to try their Rethink Connects peer support program. It was a huge help for me, so much so that I have since decided to become a peer volunteer myself and I really love it. Through Rethink I have met a community of strong young women on this same journey and we support each other in so many ways.
I speak to you today from my own experience, my own journey but at the same time I stand here on behalf of all young women with breast cancer.
When diagnosed so young our lives as we know it change forever. We are just starting out, just starting new jobs, new families and all of that gets put on hold to make it through the fight of our lives. This journey is one that can be painful, frustrating, and tiring for us and our families but with the right support in place we can find our strength, our voice and our ability to make it through one day at a time.
I just completed a week long therapeutic yoga intensive training. It was a life changer for me. You see I have always been interested in helping people feel more balanced, healthier, happier and teaching yoga has always been one of my favourite ways to be of service. After spending the past few years in breast cancer treatment and reconstruction surgeries my desire to be of service has grown exponentially. I didn’t really fully understand what physical pain was until I went through chemo, radiation and multiple surgeries. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really know.
I have spent a good part of the last 5 months in a lot of pain from the changes my upper body went through with the mastectomies and breast reconstruction. I have been very pro active about trying to manage my pain. I want to be well enough to return to work soon so I am trying everything to get stronger and healthier. I have done physio, massage, osteopathy and they have all helped immensely. But I still am carrying around so much pain that I actually started numbing myself out about it. I got used to it and held all the anger, sadness, grief and tension in my body, stored away between my shoulders, ribs, neck and chest. I tucked it away and kept it safe there and lived with the pain. This week during the training I blew that pain veil open, dug into it and started to let it go. I can’t even describe in words how incredible it feels.
The first exercise we did where I had to go anywhere near my “protected” area had me instantly in tears. But the crying felt good, scary but good. I had my body’s attention and it quietly gave me the nod to keep going. So I did . With the support of incredible teachers and other students I was safely able to explore what was going on with me physically. It was a very intense, tiring but also exhilarating process. In the five days of training I let go of so many holding patterns. I let go of fear, I sat with my sadness and with my joy. I started some serious cleaning out of my stuff. And the best part was that I emerged from the training not only having had many personal shifts but also learning how to help others and be of service to others in helping them find their pure movement, there ability to start letting go of some pain and get back to the things they need and love doing!
I want to thank Susi Hately and her team for an incredible experience. You can check out all the great programs and books she has for helping people get out of pain at www.functionalsynergy.com
This week I was reminded to trust what I see and feel, that less is more, and to always move in a pain free range of motion. I went into the training hoping to learn how to help others not realizing that I would be helping myself and my own recovery process too! I love those kind of surprises.
Have you heard of the concept that water reacts on a molecular level to human vibrational energy? It can change its shape as a reaction to emotions and feelings generated by words and music.
A recent talk by Deepak Chopra reminded me of the work Dr. Masaru Emoto is doing on how receptive water is. In his experiments he took pure spring water and taped a word on the jar containing the water. Some words were positive like: love, balance and peace. Others had a more negative feel like: “I hate you, I am going to kill you, you make me sick”. He also had a group of jars that he exposed to beautiful, peaceful music and others to unsettling, chaotic music.
Then he took drops of the water , froze them and examined the ice crystals that formed under a microscope. What he found was incredible.
The water exposed to the loving words, thoughts and music took on incredibly beautiful, harmonious shapes. On the other hand the ones exposed to anger, hatred and negativity lost their beautiful shapes and went into chaos with no patterns and no balance. He also has found that water molecules taken from different sources look different. The shape of water taken from the Ganges River looks very different than water from Antarctic Ice.
So consider that our bodies and our planet are made up of over 70% water – can you imagine what kind of effect those energy frequencies have on our entire system? We are bombarded with stimuli every moment of every day that affect us on a cellular level.
When I think about my health moving forward and what I want to bring into my life I like to think of this water experiment as reminder of just how sensitive to thoughts and energy we really are.
How does energy affect you?
Are you aware of the energy you put out when you walk into a room?
Are you aware of the energy of the people around you – both the uplifting good vibes and the kind that make you feel tired or angry for seemingly no reason?
Play with your ability to be aware of the vibrations around you including your own. For a few days just try observing what you give out and what you take in as you go from home to work, to the gym, grocery shopping, and sharing meals with with family, friends etc.
I am not saying that you need to be a shining beacon of happy, positive light all the time because that is impossible! Just be aware that you have a choice of what to do when the negative, more difficult emotions come up. What you choose to do will affect you and those around you on a cellular level.
What energy do you choose to put out into the world around you? The choice is up to you.
There are so many books out there on wellness, it’s hard to know which ones are worth buying?! I have helped eliminate some of the guess work for you by creating a list of books that I have read, possibly blogged about or have used in some way to help on my wellness journey as well as breast cancer recovery. I am excited to tell you that I have put them together into a DevaLife Bookstore powered by Amazon. You will find books on yoga, aromatherapy, chakras, reiki, healthy eating and living fully.
Please check out the store knowing you can trust that the books listed there have been vetted by me or someone in our The Deva Life community.
I want to give you a chance to share the books you love that have helped you in body, mind, spirit or all of the above. If you have a favourite book please let me know in the comments below and I will check it out. If it meets the criteria of fitting into one of our categories I will add your suggested book to the store so other Deva Life readers can enjoy it too!
Happy reading xoxo
Even though I have been out of school for a long time I still love the feel of the back to school season. There is something special about the energy of new beginnings, fresh starts, new adventures and new knowledge.
Whether you are in school, sending a little one to school or have been out of school for a while, take a moment to honour the idea of a new beginning, growth and limitless possibilities.
” Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.~
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
“What the caterpillar calls the end the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”
The Deva Life
I am Jasmin Fiore, a yoga teacher, aromatherapist, reiki master, mother and young breast cancer patient interested in all things that keep us happy and healthy. Please join us for weekly insights and info as we explore ways to create a brilliant,healthy, love filled deva life.
Deva - a sanskrit word for celestial or shining – a powerful connection to nature, the universe, and the ability to connect with the divine.
Books I Like
If you like it share it!