We are all survivors of one kind or another. Whether encountering a diagnosis, a deep loss, or daily challenges, each of us passes through various life experiences that can serve as gateways to more expansive awareness. Surviving doesn’t have to mean perpetual struggle. Among breast cancer survivors (of which I am now one), survival has become a badge of honor combined with a positive outlook. Having just completed treatment, I feel both relief and a bit of uncertainty at being on the other side of all that I have experienced since my initial diagnosis last summer. Because I have friends who are long-time breast cancer survivors and because I trust my doctors, I have felt optimistic throughout. Yet the kernel of “what next?” inevitably arises at some point.
To me, “next” is now—the eternal moment which holds all of life. I stepped onto this cancer path with years of spiritual practice buoying me up. It has sustained me, and that continues. I’ve never viewed this as a fight or battle, but as part of my soul’s journey. The further I went, the more it felt like a door opening and a profound deepening into greater wisdom about life, death, and eternity. In truth, it has been a powerful initiation, one my soul and God designed for me at this particular time in my life. Facing one’s inevitable death (whenever it occurs) is the ultimate human dilemma. Do we view it with trepidation and terror or with peace and acceptance? Will we allow it to infringe on the joy of being alive, or can we see it as part of something so great that its vastness and mystery inspires us? It all depends on whether we look at our lives from the viewpoint of the identity/ego or the soul. The identity gets caught in fear; the soul trusts in the flow of Spirit.
You can’t go through cancer without having parts of your identity fall away. Which in truth is the best thing that could happen because it allows the soul to emerge more fully. And the soul’s wisdom (direct channel to God) can guide you in the most compelling and enlightened way for the rest of your life, beyond fear to pure surrender and trust. Your soul has always been with you, but sometimes it takes many years to realize that. Actually, that’s why everything happens in your life—to bring you to the point of aligning completely with your soul and living as that in the world.
Your identity serves you well, but it is just a vehicle to eventually bring you to soul connection through your life experiences. At least that is what has happened to me. And breast cancer has given me the gift of facing/fading the fear of death and infinity I’ve had all my life. From my soul’s view, without the identity’s interference, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of because I am always immersed in a loving presence that encompasses all that is. Everywhere is peace and limitless awareness, within which I am held.
When those with cancer tell you that it’s a gift, they are not putting a good face on it; they are tapping into a deeper truth, not only about cancer but about life. Cancer shakes everything up and shows you what’s important; it gives you the cosmic highlights of the human/divine experience on planet Earth. And it’s not about overcoming pain and suffering or controlling your fate. It’s about opening to, and flowing with, universal consciousness, of which we are all part. Your soul embodies this consciousness. When your heart aligns with your soul, you feel a oneness of being beyond the very idea of survival. Then every single thing you experience is a gift.