Tag Archives: breast cancer

Healing Light


healing light

Yesterday I learned that one of my breast cancer survivor friends was diagnosed with colon cancer. I am so glad she chose to share this news with our yoga group before our practice.  Our sanctuary filled with healing light. We offered our hearts to our friend, and she received.

Her diagnosis is fresh, having had her colonoscopy a week ago yesterday. She’ll be having surgery this coming Wednesday. The good news is they found the cancer early enough that they can remove the cancerous section – no colostomy.

We all dedicated our practice to her. This poem is an attempt to capture the beautiful moment that Theresa, our yoga instructor, helped us create with her guided healing imagery.

We Are Light
By Vicki L. Flaherty

We are light
Pure and healing light
Here to hold you
To give you strength
To offer our love for you

We press our palms together
Rest the edges of our bonded thumbs against our hearts
Our fingers spread like rays of golden sunshine
Releasing healing power from deep within, out into the room
For you

Our energy floats gracefully to the center 
Each of our spirits moving toward the other
Melding into a single source of powerful light 
Encircling you in radiant illuminating light

Take our pure and healing light
Let it hold you
Let it give you strength
Accept our love

I’ve been transported to that place of vulnerability that comes with such a diagnosis, that place where reaching for hope is strength, where the ability to trust is a gift, where the simplest act of love brings incredible contentment.   I’m reminded of what’s important in life – my family, my friends, my health, bringing joy into the world, filling space with beauty and gratitude, embracing all the possibilities that open in front of me.


the gift of giving


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I saw it. In a flash. A glipse of myself. Just like my father.

Sitting at the table with 20 other women – gathered together as breast cancer survivors – we were celebrating ‘generous J” who has given so much of her time to our group, ensuring we had plans for monthly dinners and knew the yoga schedule. When J decided she needed to ‘retire’ from her leader role, me and another member of our group thought it would be nice to say a special thank you to “J”. And, then some part of me, shaped by the goodness and giving of my father, stepped in and started organizing a party, gathering us all up in our goodwill and giving a special gift of gratitude to “J”. I’d been instrumental in making it all happen. Sitting there next to K, I saw it. It was a flash. A glimpse of myself – just like my father. For an instant my Dad was there with me; I was him. He was me. We were one giving spirit.

Thank you, Dad, for all the giving you’ve done and continue to do and for being a role model of selfless generosity. I am proud to be your daughter and hope that my glimmer is even half as bright as your glow. I love you.

The darkness is an anchor


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One of my fellow blogger friends posted a poem, A Dark Thing Inside the Day, on her lovely and inspiring Radiating Blossom site today (thanks, Carol). Linda Gregg’s piece of art really resonated for me – I have no idea the meaning it had for her; no matter, she’s touched me.

As I sit on the cusp of the 2-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgeries (lumpectomy on 9/7/11, then mastectomy 9/28/11), and cope with the fears that seem to spit up days before my annual mammogram, I found special meaning in the poem. My deliciously abundant life – blessed with a wonderful husband (I love you, Jim Hogan), a family full of love and lightness (thanks Mom, Dad, Mike…), an awesome collection of inspiring friends, a wonderful home where I am nourished and comfortable, a challenging and satisfying job, and fantabulous vacations (just back from two weeks in Portugal) – is like strokes of bright and beautiful pink coloring over a deep, dark purple spot. I find it significant the author says “The thing is hardly  visible (a lot like mostly a heart singing?) – it is not completely hidden. It’s there. It lingers. Not quite haunting. Like a haze that passes over from time to time (like the clouds that swept over the coast of Portugal one morning as we headed to the beach – photo above).

One might think cancer haunts me. No. It’s not like that. It’s more like an anchor. A counter weight. Something that keeps my life in balance. Blesses with me with perspective, understanding, grace, clarity. Something that holds me in place, in peace.

Waiting Game



It was 2 years ago that I was at the hospital for my breast biopsy. I remember the fear when they put the hospital wristband on my arm. Something about it. An acknowledgement. I am having surgery related to cancer. This is REAL.

I knew what to expect thanks to one of my Mom’s friends who had the procedure a couple month’s before, and thanks to one of my dear friends sharing her experience. Even so, I was scared. I felt fragile, like I might break. Mostly it was the possibilities that I let race through my mind that took the wind out of me.

I kept focusing on relaxing. And I kept repeating a mantra offered by my dear friend: Heaven is right here where I am, and this is the place to train. I didn’t know what I was training for, but it felt right. Now I know I was on the training ground of life. I kept reminding myself about how alive I felt. I gave my all to being present, even if I was sitting with fear, anticipation, and uncertainty.

I remember entering the biopsy room, so big and sterile. There was comfort in being told what was happening each step of the way – positioning the breast, getting lidocaine, inserting the biopsy needle, implanting the marker (in case of cancer and surgery), taking images…

I remember Jim being there in the waiting room, supporting me, helping me to be brave and strong.

I found this in my journal from 7/28/11:

for the call.
No cancer?
Heaven is right here.
Where I am.
Envision healing light enveloping.
Be calm, still, quiet.
Rest here.
Connect with my spirit,
The soul in me.
Love myself.

That was the seed of the poem I wrote as I waited for the caboose of this waiting game train to move on by.

Waiting Game
By Vicki L. Flaherty

Here I am again.
For the results.
I need answers.
And data to shape my future.
Will this fast moving train slow down?
Or will it speed full ahead?
Mammogram abnormal — biopsy needed.
Biopsy performed — lumpectomy next.
“Dirty” lumpectomy margins —
mastectomy needed and done.
Pathology on the breast and lymph nodes —
What will it be?
Cancer, or no?
Cancer here but not there?
Or cancer everywhere?
Odds are, I’m clean.
Not much consolation.
Here I am again.
For the results.
And data to shape my future.
Will the train please slow down.
Will the train please stop.

Where the clouds end

courtesy of library.thinkquest.org

courtesy of library.thinkquest.org

I continue to think about my friend M who is fighting a tough battle against her breast cancer. (I’ve written about her before in Healing Waters and I can’t seem to let go of her). Something about her touches me, reaches deep, finds that soft spot of vulnerability, and calls on me to remove another layer of emotion buried inside.

The poem below was inspired as I drove to the gym one day with M on my mind and a summer thunderstorm approaching. The ideas started with the whirl of the wind, continued like the little raindrops that started falling, and finally pounded through me like a deluge. That day I had to run around the track with a paper and pen in hand due to the outpouring. The poem took shape during several quiet moments over the subsequent 3 weeks.  I have a feeling I could work on this one for a long time to perfect it – instead I am going to release it like a butterfly, just as it is.

For M, that she may see the line where the clouds end…

Where the Clouds End
By Vicki Flaherty

It starts like the rustling of paper
As the wind breezes through the leaves
Dust swirls into a gauzy haze
The skies darken with foreboding
Gray blackness looms like a blanket
Ripe round droplets tap, tap, tap
And crescendo into a deluge
The storm exhausts herself
And the rains back away
Their cleansing work complete
Silence follows the clamor
At the line where the clouds end
The filmy ceiling dissolves into the heavens
Nourishing waters soak deep into the earth
Calming light returns anew
Trees stand steady and tall
Grasses dance with grace
Flowers rise to the joyful sun
Peace lies softly in the air

© 2013 Vicki L. Flaherty

Empowered Doctor Blog Award


Empowered Doctor Blog Award small

Imagine my delight to find out this evening that this blog – Mostly My Heart Sings – was chosen as one of Empowered Doctor’s Top Breast Cancer Blogs! The award was given by Michael Foti, Regional Manager of Empowered Medical Media. Empowered Doctor is a news source focusing on healthcare and is a news affiliate of the Chicago Tribune, Arizona Central, and CBSNewYork. The organization recently launched a program to identify and publicize some of the top breast cancer-related blogs on the web. I received a badge showing the award, which I’ve embedded in this post and displayed on the right side of the blog (along with another award I was given previously). I appreciate the recognition and hope it might help me bring comfort and hope in the world.

Leaning into the sharp points


I read this today in one of the inspirational emails to which I subscribe:

“Connect with the edge, the unknown, of your experience. Allow this pull towards unexplored territory to take you to new dimensions of yourself. Allow life to touch you in new ways. For this is how we truly live life.” ~John & Patrice Robson,

That describes what I felt was happening as I moved deeper into my experience during my cancer treatment. Also, I’ve been reading When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, given to me by a dear friend.  Pema Chodron, the author,  writes about ‘maitri’, a term for loving kindness toward oneself and invites the reader to ‘lean into the sharp points’.  She encourages:

  • stepping into unchartered territory
  • relaxing with the groundlessness of our situation
  • dissolving the dualistic tension between good/bad
  • inviting in what we usually avoid

Breast cancer opened these up to me.  My poetry enabled me to open to fear, anxiety, unknowing, darkness…and to wrap it all in love.  I think In The Darkness came in a powerful moment of leaning, and which brought me a powerful moment of maitri.

In The Darkness
by Vicki L. Flaherty

In the darkness of night I allow myself to be afraid.
I awake from a sleep like there is work to do.
My mind wanders to begin, and then gets going with a fervor
racing through so many questions:

 What if there is hidden cancer in my lymph nodes?
How long will I have to deal with the drains after surgery?
What if I develop lymphedema?
What if I get an infection?
What if the pain is bad?
What will it be like to have no breast?
How ugly will the scars be?
What if I don’t like what I see?
How will I feel? How will I cope?
What will change? How will my life be different?

Exhausted by the questioning,
I become aware of what’s happening.
Oh, I’m scared!
This is FEAR.
I was wondering where it was, that fear.
By day, in the light, it’s hard to see.
It hides behind my hope
and is veiled by positive intentions.
Now I know, it’s there.
It’s okay.

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

A gift of peace



Yesterday, a fellow survivor friend asked me if I would write a poem for a survivor friend of hers who has Stage IV breast cancer that had been in remission and is now getting out of control. I have never been asked to write a poem as a gift to someone I didn’t know before.  Sure, I’ve written poems as gifts – to my husband, to my parents, to my friends.  And, this past summer when a survivor friend asked me, I wrote a poem ‘on-demand’ for the Johnson County Relay for Life: Into the Light. It was a tribute to caregivers so I still had people in mind that I know when I wrote it.  Writing a poem for someone I have never met…well, until today I could say I’ve never done that.

Finding Peace
By Vicki L. Flaherty

Notice your breath…
Tune into your breathing.
Feel the life force moving through you, nourishing your spirit.
Sense the air in constant movement, an ever-available offering of strength.

Close your eyes…
Let them feel tired and heavy.
Rest in the darkness and connect with the spaciousness.
See the colors and textures of calm dance before you.

Move to a comfortable position…
Feel the earth supporting you and find your center.
Remove the armor that you put on to protect you.
Let your limbs float softly like clouds in the sky.

Relax your body…
Gently caress your stress and invite the tight spots to soften.
Feel the sensations as the tension melts away.
Experience the lightness as it pours over your every cell.

Cleanse your mind…
Let go of each thought as it arises.
Let the fear float freely up and away.
Welcome grace, hope and joy to fill the open space.

Hear the silence…
Listen for it just below the noise.
Feel the quiet as it holds you tenderly in its arms.
Welcome in the abundant peace that is here for you.

Tune into the energy around you…
The love inside you engages in a sacred dance.
Shine the light that emanates from you out into the world.
Your beautiful presence shimmers brilliantly in the stillness.

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