sleddingWhen I was in middle school I was obsessed with drawing peace signs and ying-yangs. I’ve been thinking a lot about those ying-yangs lately.  The concept that light cannot exist without darkness, and darkness cannot exist without light.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I started envisioning myself as “easy-breezy-cancer-girl”.  You know the one that wears lipstick to chemo, and then goes for a quick run before whipping up dinner for her family.  The one that rocks a bald head, and starts wearing heals and hipster jeans.  The one who dares cancer to strip her of sexiness, and sassiness. The one that never misses a day of work due to fatigue, and who juices her organic vegetables and becomes a vegan.  The one who spews out positive slogans and embraces all the pink paraphernalia. Seriously.  This is what I dreamed up for myself.

And now, I’m disappointed.  Because I am not “easy-breezy-cancer-girl”. . . not even close.  Because I bite my lip on my way into chemo, and cry when I realize all over again that cancer is my reality.  Because I’m uncomfortable even in my most comfy pjs snuggled up with the warmest blanket.  Because I’m mad, and scared, and overwhelmed, and have yet to juice my vegetables.  Because I literally have a team of people helping me on any given day, and I still am wiped out.

I go to acupuncture once a week, force myself to drink organic fruit smoothies most days, use aromatherapy for my nausea instead of meds, do my best to go on walks when I can, drink more water than I ever have in my life, and challenge myself to make it to work when my body will allow it.  And still I feel disappointed with myself.

I realize this is flawed thinking.  And here is where the ying-yang comes in.

I am both.  I am part “easy-breezy-cancer-girl” and part “fucking hot mess”.  I am both.  I wear lip gloss to chemo and have statement earrings.  I also cry so much that snot piles up on my chin, and sometimes I punch my pillow while screaming “fuck”.  I am graceful.  And whatever the opposite of graceful is.  I am brave.  And I am terrified.

And this is okay.  The ying-yang says so.  We get to be both.  What a sweet truth.  We get to be both!

I can be the mom that takes her kids sledding despite her chemo-coma, and the mom that turns her kids over to the TV and I-pad.  The one that slices up organic apples, and the one that stops for donuts.  The one who patiently helps them get on their snow gear for the third time, and the one that starts yelling and throwing snow boots.  I am both.

When I was at one of my lowest points this last round of chemo, a friend of mine sent a text saying “all you have to do is survive.”

It was like music to my ears.

On my worst days, all I have to do is survive.

And on my best days, I will thrive.

And there will be both. And I will do both.

And I will bend without breaking. A tree in the wind.


5 thoughts on “Both

  1. I read your message several times. Universal truths come to all of us for one reason or another. I have also come to the realization of “both”. Grief will also take you to those places as well, where you question the lesson you must learn, or the grace you so desperately need to forge ahead. However, your so right on. Sometimes when I feel shitty or a loved one feels shitty and we question “why do I feel so bad, scare, defeated, etc. the answer is simple really. Something “Shitty” just happened. You feel lousy because something lousy just happened. We try so hard to “keep a stiff upper lip”, as if this will keep us from diminishing ourselves. Prove how strong we are. How cool we are. Well……you know what. IT’S BOTH.
    Yin & Yang, polarity, a full circle, Life. I would have no problem looking at my friend and saying “feel crappy, angry, scared, worn out”. Please feel free to honestly feel any friggin way you want. Its okay. However it is harder to say to ourselves. To RELEASE is to feel. Grace is only drying your tears after they fall. and perserverence is like your tree, the wind can sway the branches, but they won’t break. Here’s to BOTH. Here’s to life. Here’s to you.


  2. You ARE bending (and not breaking). You ARE beautiful and both. And you are FULL of wisdom beyond your years, friend! And although this blog is hopefully therapeutic for YOU, I’m quite sure that you may not realize the extent to which you are touching the lives of us (your readers – friends, family – or “students”). These posts or “lessons” remind us all of what is really important, what is truly worth fighting for and what a little perspective can provide. Thank you for that! And remember to be kind to yourself (“both” selves) 🙂 Hugs, light and love!!!


  3. sometimes we can’t do it ALL but it’s the moderation that counts. It sounds like you are doing so much right and I bet even your “wrong” is better than most. I am impressed by your strength. Thanks for sharing


  4. A friend just shared your blog. I am also a breast cancer patient.
    I am married with six yr old & 4 yr old daughters.
    I was diagnosed 3 1/2 yrs ago with stage IV that spread to my bones. I had radiation to repair bone damage asap. Then I had my ovaries removed & partial masectomy in the cancerous breast.
    I took many diff hormonal therapies for 3yrs. 6 months ago I began an oral chemo agent because the other therapies stopped working.
    The oral med did not work. So, I began traditional chemo 3 wks ago…port & all.
    I TOTALLY RELATE to u. Thank u for so openly sharing ur thoughts. I will def keep reading it. Have a good wkend!


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