[NCSD guest blog post by Keri Chiappino, DC]
Life after cancer is something to celebrate because, quite simply, when you’ve faced the possibility of no life, the deliciousness of life becomes that much more powerful and precious. There is a relationship between the depths of despair that you feel when you’re in the midst of the operations, the chemo, the sickness, the pain, the uncertainty and the incredible heights of freedom that come with life after cancer. As dark as it can be on the one side, it can be equally as blissful on the other.
It didn’t come right away, and it wasn’t easy, but even when I got the first all-clear signal from my doctor, I knew that the seedling for my joy was planted. And even as I was judging my inability to get my “happy” back and feeling lost and alone, that seed was being nurtured somewhere within by a deep faith and vitality for life.
And as I became the new me, I began to feel an appreciation for myself in this here and now that I had never felt before, and I began to celebrate the little victories over the depression, the doubts, and the self-judgment as equally as the insights and the moments of laughter and ease.
I began to live life with a vengeance. I started letting go of all the things, the ideas, and the beliefs that no longer served me. I started caring for myself in ways I never had before. I began expressing my emotions more honestly instead of letting them simmer within. I stopped putting off my dreams and my goals and jumped in wholeheartedly, showing up, being as present as possible.
I am making my dreams come true. I am going for it – the zest, the pleasure, the joy. Things I used to be self-conscious about, I let go of more easily. After all, I had to learn to accept my new body. After that, a little piece of spinach between the teeth is nothing, right?
There is something vibrant and alive about each day. It is a celebration to get up and be with my children, feeling good and seeing them embrace life with not a care in the world. Recently, I went with my daughter to a teahouse, and we had a lovely afternoon of tea and cakes. Watching her innocently express the excitement and joy of the moment was as much of a celebration as my heart could ever wish for. There are many such moments in my life now, and I welcome them all.
This has been an incredible journey, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. My gratitude practice has brought me through much of it and my “Healing Boobies” community of breast cancer survivors has given me so much hope. It is an honor to travel with these incredible women who have been through so much. There is something deeply powerful in witnessing these many journeys, and I am continually inspired to live authentically.
Life is a gift, all of it, and I for one intend to celebrate it in every way I can.
Dr. Keri Chiappino is a chiropractic neurologist, yoga teacher, breast cancer survivor, and “thriver.” She is the creator of the Healing Boobies Experience (healingboobies.com), which is a worldwide movement dedicated to help women “get their HAPPY back” after breast cancer.