When I first heard the diagnosis “breast cancer,” I was lost in shock and fear. How could this happen in my life? To me?! After a few days, I gradually was able to re-center in the peace within me, to remember that everything that happens in my life is part of a soul plan that I was part of designing before my birth. Nothing is a coincidence, and everything is connected to everything else. I am one soul in one lifetime on one planet. Yet I am also part of the entire fabric of being in the universe. Sometimes it takes loss or crisis in our lives to fully realize this. When things fall away or apart, the long view becomes more visible.
Illness or disease can stop you short in your tracks and remind you of your own mortality. Even if you think you are unattached to outcome or completely surrendered to however events unfold. Even if you feel connected to a greater consciousness beyond life and death. There is always more surrender available, deeper all the time. And there is always more letting go of attachment—until there’s nothing left but soul. The physical body holds within it the last attachment. You definitively let go of that attachment at death. But you can also let go of it as part of life. This is what is meant by “dying unto yourself.” You release attachment not only to your identity but to your physical form. You live your life as your soul, immersed in peaceful Presence. The same immersion in Presence that occurs at death. Only you are radiantly alive and aware.
I have experienced times of surrender and Presence on my spiritual journey, but when breast cancer came into my life, I stepped onto an accelerated path: my own Camino.* The more I trusted that I was being divinely guided on this path, the more everything flowed. During and after surgery, I felt surrounded by angelic healers, floating in profound Oneness. My physical form seemed almost nonexistent. I returned home to heal and rest quietly. A week later, the pathology report showed wide clear margins—excellent! Then my surgeon told me that new test results indicated I should probably include chemotherapy in my treatment plan along with radiation. I had already accepted the latter, but the combo frightened me. Attachment to my body as it currently looked and felt was front and center. I was being asked to dive even deeper into acceptance and surrender.
My breast-cancer-survivor friends helped me with this acceptance (as did my very knowledgeable and kind doctors), but then my own inner genie handed me a vision that changed the way I saw everything. During a powerful meditation one morning, I suddenly understood what breast cancer represented in my life. In my mind’s eye, I saw an image of burning coals, like those used in the traditional firewalk, practiced by many cultures for thousands of years as a rite of faith, healing, or initiation. Immediately, I knew that for me radiation and chemo were the “burning coals,” and that I would safely “walk” through them as I surrendered attachment to my body and trusted my soul’s journey. My Camino walk is a fire of initiation, transmutation, and expansion beyond the physical. I envisioned myself afterward as pure soul light. No attachments, just life streaming through eternity in timeless splendor.
This is our collective destiny: to walk through humanity’s fires and emerge as light, each in our own way. Every person’s journey is unique. Each soul path divinely orchestrated. On the other side of our firewalks is a Presence that permeates the universe in life and in death. In truth, they are one: infinite beingness. When we realize that, all fear falls away, and we can live our lives with peaceful, open hearts and souls.
*The Camino is a well-known path of spiritual pilgrimage across northern Spain.