The Transformational Power of Change

The time is now. I want to go find out who this stronger, wiser person I’ve become can be.



The author rowing in a single skull.

Amy Nichols

 

Metastasis  noun

1. The spread of a disease-producing agency (such as cancer cells) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body  2. Change of position, state, or form; transformation

 

I will admit openly and with full honesty that I could never say this word until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I would stumble on the syllables and muck it up. Once I was told I had breast cancer, I could say this word without pause or blunder because this is the worst word a cancer warrior can be told. Its ominous meaning is used to explain that cancer is raging within your body in one or more organs and possibly in your bones.

I do not have this diagnosis and, with all the faith I can muster, I pray I never will. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some people are diagnosed originally with stage 1 (me) or stage 4 (metastasis). Cancer is a beast that does its own thing.

I have met some remarkable women within my own cancer journey, many of which were diagnosed at a lower stage and fought with every drug and treatment possible only to be told the cancer wasn’t giving up. They didn’t either. They are still going strong, facing this beast each morning and finding a way to smile and laugh. They are brilliant and courageous, and they are changing the way I look at everything.

When you look up the word metastasis, the first definition speaks all about cancer and the spread of cells within the body. I decided to focus on the second definition instead, as this is what my last eighteen months has been about: a transformation.

The formation of metastasis in Latin means a “transition,” and in Greek, “a removing, removal, migration, a changing; change, revolution.” I did not know or understand this eighteen months ago, but my life without me in charge began to revolt against things I took for granted and showed me that change is not only needed, but is a very good thing. Has change been scary? Hell yes! Has it helped me come to a deeper place of patience, understanding and desire? Hell yes!!

Metastasis. I am choosing to use this word in a positive way. I am fortunate that I can do that because my own diagnosis does not incorporate the use of this very scary definition of change. But, let’s face it. While change is scary, in the bigger picture change is what life is all about. I have not only come to accept this fact, but I now embrace it. I am seeing colors more vividly and am realizing how fortunate I truly am. I realize that I have been on a slow, metastatic journey this entire time.

When I first started writing my thoughts out for Austin Fit, I did so from an athletic mindset. As a rower who desired to be stronger, better, and faster, I took on my own cancer diagnosis with the faith that it would all be removed; I would get new “better” breasts; and my life would return to normal. I was wrong. My life will never be normal again. And I am beyond fortunate to really understand that impact.

Selfishly, I have written about my own fears and issues. I have attempted to be humorous about the “Bins of Boobs” and deer-hunting plastic surgeons I’ve encountered on my journey. I have openly discussed the inner glow seen on my first mammogram due to the inserts that now provide my body with two rather large humps on my chest. I have whined about my desire to row again, and I realize I was trying to put my life back to where it was before that fateful call. That call that told me those four words: You. Have. Breast. Cancer.

From the beginning of my sharing with those who have chosen to read my blogs, I have given kudos and shout-outs to the wonderful people I share my life with. I have discovered during this trial that people I thought were friends, while not bad people, just don’t want to associate with my diagnosis. Others have said they are here for me only to disappear in times of need. This honestly looped me for a while until I realized the most important fact in all of this: The trusted and most prominent presences in my life have been here through it all. And I am grateful and extremely blessed to have their support.

The changes in my life have allowed me the deepest understanding of true friendship and I must say that had cancer never touched my life, I would have stayed in this place of seeing my friends as who I thought them to be instead of truly knowing who they are. I would have never understood the power a single person has to provoke change and I would not have been open to the revolution I have gone through. I am incredibly thankful to Austin Fit for asking me to take this journey and providing me a path. I had no idea when this began how wonderful of an outlet this would be for me, but by being able to write down my thoughts and put them in an order that made sense, I have been slowly transforming out of the shock (and the denial) I was in and into a person who is open and ready for whatever comes next.

Perhaps that will mean getting back into shape and rowing myself up and down Lady Bird Lake. Maybe it will mean more. What I have come to understand is that my definition of a subject, thing, or person can no longer be absolute. There are always more ways to look at something and to be open to what happens next. I cannot and will not define my friends as those I think are important. They are all important and how I give back to them—not what they give to me—defines our relationship.

This is my last blog post for Austin Fit because I have decided that my change is now. I am finally healthy and have two boobs I actually like (unlike the cancer-ridden originals, these I have now are going to be my friends). I want to go find out who this stronger, wiser person I feel I’ve become can be.

My thanks to everyone who has read “My Journey to Jelly Boobs.” I truly do hope that these pieces have given you some humor (seriously—how can one not laugh at the idea of balancing on boobs from expanders?) and insight about what a breast cancer warrior needs (support and education along with a really good medical team). I pray that you are never told those same four words I hear that day and, if you are, please don’t feel alone. One in eight women will hear that message. Some of us will hear it earlier in our lives than others, and some with a more dire diagnosis. It is all in how we allow the message to play out that gives us a journey.

My wish for this New Year is for greater understanding and acceptance, and for each of us to feel—maybe some for the first time in their lives—the dynamic impact change can bring. My challenge to each of you: form your own reason to metastasize and then do it for a greater good. I hope you are encouraged to embrace change and perhaps get inspired to go have your own journey—maybe do something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Be open to the freeness of whatever lies ahead.

Yes, change is good.

 

 

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