Time to reflect on how the past five years, since my second cancer, have left their footprint in my life. With one big lesson learned—my own needs are as valuable as others’.
Five years ago, I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer. Once again, I was terrified, face to face with my mortality. Thank God, life, the universe or whatever you want to call that higher power, I have been in remission ever since.
This second time, cancer has changed me in a deeper way than the first time. The change didn’t occur in my lifestyle habits. I changed the way I ate, relaxed, exercised, and lived fifteen years ago after my first cancer, and I have maintained these habits ever since. Instead, this recurrence has transformed me at the soul level.
Looking back at these five years, I see a long, devious road of learning something that I have discovered to be crucial to my wellbeing—the immense power of valuing my needs. There is a reason for that. I used to put others’ needs before mine—always. As a matter of fact, to me, cancer people have that common characteristic–they put others’ needs before their own.
Back to my long, devious road.
In 2014, I realized I had helped my husband to fulfill his dream—to buy a house—which had nothing to do with my own—to be seen by the man I loved. We ended up with a house and unable to connect. We divorced. Two years later, I gave up my 25-year career as a corporate journalist. Having a “title” and a good professional status were actually my father’s need, not mine. Then, the time came when I said “no” for the first time to friends who were used to me being present for them and saying “yes” whatever my circumstances. The time also came to say “yes” to more play. I started dancing–a life-long dream–and have brought contra dance, zydeco, salsa and blues into my life since then.
This past year, I have stepped in a new relationship. More than anything, this relationship has tested my ability to value my needs, not only my lover’s. I’m getting there. The next step will—hopefully, maybe–be to find a balance between the two of us.
Several things have been vital to walk this long, devious road, like listening to myself thanks to my own yoga practice, and people who see me and who listen–I mean who really listen like those in my Non-Violent Communication group. Cheers to the next five years.