The Survivor In Me


The journey began on July 6, 2011.  That’s the day the radiologist called to ask me to come back for another set of mammograms.

I remember July 8, 2011 – the day the radiologist told me that there was something suspicious on the mammogram.

Then there was July 25, 2011 -the day I had the breast biopsy.

Mostly, I remember July 27th, 2011 – the day the nurse called to tell me that there were cancer cells in my right breast. I guess you never think someone will say the words “You have cancer” to you.  I certainly had never imagined it. It was surreal. I was home alone and scared. I remember crying like I have never cried before. So many things I didn’t know, making me fearful and uncertain. My journal on August 5th says “I remember trying to be strong but the tears coming anyway.” and “I have cancer.  I need surgery to remove part (or all!) of my right breast. Wow!”

The first threads of the poem appear in my journal dated August 3rd. I’m amazed that just days after the diagnosis, I was already moving to a place of strength and resiliency. The survivor in me, I guess.  Here’s what I wrote in my journal that day, just a series of words:




Great care.

Options. Choices.


Reaching for family, friends.

Being held, supported.

Feeling love, light.



Path – Obstacle – Overcome

Stumbling forward with Grace.

Here’s the poem that evolved and which appears in Mostly My Heart Sings:

By Vicki Flaherty

It’s scary in the darkness.
It’s sometimes lonely,
even resting on a pillow of love.
Often the light is hard to see,
a flickering in the distance.
Questions unanswered linger in the air,
uncertainty leaves me fragile.
Out of seemingly nowhere tears well up
from some primal place deep inside.
I feel numb and empty and raw,
feelings I’m unable to fully understand.
My mind is a furry fuzz;
I can’t focus or think straight.
Then suddenly in this place of deep emotion,
I’m reminded just to be.
It’s time to rest — there is nothing I need to do.
With grace I gently move along
to a peaceful place of strength.


© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Mostly My Heart Sings, 2013


About Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through my writing, gardening, photography, or my work. Running and yoga enrich my being. I am happiest when I’m with my husband Jim. Travel opens me to new possibilities and greater awareness. I find a special joy in helping people succeed. I’ve done something valuable when I’ve helped a colleague or friend see their brilliance and express their full potential. I have awesome opportunities to do this as an industrial/organizational psychologist through leadership, mentoring, coaching, career and other talent programs. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

11 responses »

  1. Pingback: 3:50 am. And, Inspired… – Lead.Learn.Live.

  2. Hi Vicki, I just found your blog through a fellow blog friend. I’m so honored to read your raw and strong words here. One of my dear friends is a breast cancer survivor – she was diagnosed very close to your diagnosis date. She’s kicking its tail and has grown by leaps and bounds because of it.

    You’re an amazingly creative and gifted poet, so incredibly moving. My mom was diagnosed with brain cancer in October. We’re in the battle for her life right now…

    Prayers for continued healing and sharing the hope and strength of your story. Blessings to you!

    • I have found so many amazing blogs in the past week (see my post on I am glad to include yours among them. I am glad to hear your breast cancer survivor friend is a true warrior. My heart is holding your mother and you…blessings back to you!

      • Hi Vicki,

        Yay! I love meeting new blog friends who are deep and soulful like you. I’m checking out abundelic right now. I’m so glad you told me about it.

        Looking forward to reading more of your writings. Thanks for the well wishes for my mom. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Breaking through to what is alive underneath « Mostly My Heart Sings

  4. Pingback: Courage | Leading With Intention

  5. Pingback: Let it out | Mostly My Heart Sings

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