Tag Archives: cancer

For Sheila C

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Hollyhocks on Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro

Hollyhocks on Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro

You are strong.

You are colorful and vibrant.

Your spirit is open and shines in the foreground.

And, it is beautiful. 

This post is dedicated to my friend Sheila Connelly who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s sharing her journey at In Sickness and In Health. Sending you hugsful of strength, energy, light, and love, my friend.

An alternative way

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Am amazing lily growing in abundance on the scorched point of Sagres, Portugal

Am amazing lily growing in abundance on the scorched point of Sagres, Portugal

I’m here with Rolf Gates and Meditations from the Mat again today. I’m on my fifth trip through this transformative book. For whatever reason, my first time through I decided to date the page when I read it. Today I’m on the reading for Day 66 and it has the following dates at the top:  2/9/2005, 4/2/2007, 11/9/2008, 10/4/2011 and now 5/2/2014. On October 4, 2011 I used a brown pen for the date – and for my underlines and notes. The reading is about Santosa, or contentment, and starts with a Yoga Sutras quote:

contentment

The paragraph below is underlined:

contentment2

My notes grab the things I wanted to take away:

  • Alternative way to move through the world
  • Shift of focus
  • Contentment from the inside out
  • Events as opportunities to grow
  • Encounter our own magnificence
  • Moments in which to shine

I imagine that this reading was a breath of possibility to me back on October 4, 2011 – that was one week after my mastectomy, and I was reeling from my cancer diagnosis and focused on healing. I was practicing leaning into not just the ‘good’ but also the ‘bad’ to find peace. Nearly two and half years later, I find I still have to consciously grab contentment if I want it. So many dark whispers trying to drown out the song.

This passage definitely touched me. A peak into my files shows that I wrote the first iteration of my poem Contentment on October 4, 2011 and it was called Santosa.

contentment3

A letter to my friend  

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courtesy of awaykening.net

courtesy of awaykening.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know you can’t see it. Not now, when so many things block it from view. But it is there. Oh, yes, it is definitely there inside of you. It’s a light. I bright and beautiful light.

Right now, your soul seems to be screaming, covered in fear. It wants out of the darkness. And it will find its way out. Oh, yes, it will definitely find its way to the light. And you will find yourself shining.

May you see that the fuzziness of your thoughts is protecting you. That uncomfortable softness will give way to clarity. Oh, yes, clarity will find its way to you. And, when it does, you will radiate light.

May you soon be in a place where you wonder why it ever felt dark and heavy. May your vulnerability now be the source of infinite strength.

I see your light, my friend. It is glowing inside of you. It is filled with hope. It sees possibility. It believes in life. Life without cancer. Life without fear. With each passing day may a layer of darkness peel away so your radiance reaches the world in all its beautiful power.

My heart is holding you in love,

Namaste.

Vicki

Sisters of Hope Radiating Light

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circle of light

 

Today my heart is holding Michelle, the beautiful young woman whose spirit has graced our yoga group with her radiant light, occasionally leading us in our Monday evening practice. Diagnosed before the holidays with thyroid cancer, she is having surgery today, perhaps at this very moment. This poem came flowing this morning as I sent her intentions for healing and health.

Sisters of Hope Radiating Light
By Vicki L. Flaherty

Today she is one of us.
She glows here on the other side of the room.
The wise one who usually leads from the front.

She is resilient, rooted and radiant –
youthful and vibrantly alive.
Her every movement a graceful declaration of life.

We are sisters of hope.
We form a circle around her.
Intentions of every color sit side-by-side,
as we hold her within the deepest part of our being.
Each posture we offer as a gift of strength.

Together we bathe in the calming waters of our sanctuary.
Like flowers leaning into the wind, we move in unison –
our love woven into every breath in,
peace permeating through every muscle.
Each breath we breathe together
And the hope that fills our hearts
create a powerful healing energy
radiating light.

Healing Energy

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healing energy

Today is the day after her surgery. I don’t know what she decided to have done…lumpectomy, mastectomy, single or double, implants or not…and I don’t need to know. I hold her in my heart, sending her my love, my heartfelt prayers for her recovery, my intentions for her life of health and happiness. So many memories come flooding to me today as I think about my friend M in a room at the UIHC hospital, recovering with her dear sister at her bedside. My soul smiles upon her, knowing she is moving ever closer to clarity and grace and hope in her life.

I dedicate today’s poem – that I originally wrote in the fall of 2011 after receiving a beautiful gift of flower essences, prepared especially for me by my friend Ginny, to my friend M.

Flower Essences
By Vicki L. Flaherty

My friend’s sweet hands blend the essence of flowers.
She creates a healing elixir, especially for me.

Her beautiful gift created with hope at her fingertips.
Each flower representing a need;
each accompanied by an affirmation:

Self-Heal to bring me healing —
I awaken the self-healing power within me.

Sweet Chestnut to comfort me in the darkness —
I feel a shining light through my suffering.

Hibiscus to honor my femininity —
I experience loving warmth in my body and soul.

Love Lies Bleeding to connect me with universal love —
I can bend but not be broken.

Rock Rose to address my fear —
My courage is rock-bott om strong.

White Chestnut to release my anxiety —
A calm presence creates freedom within me.

Star of Bethlehem to support me through shock —
I see my star shining renewed and whole.

Walnut to move me through this transformation —
I welcome new possibilities into my life.

Other posts about my dear friend M and how she touches my heart:

Soul touching – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/soul-touching/

Where the clouds end – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/where-the-clouds-end/

I can’t seem to let go of her – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/i-cant-seem-to-let-go-of-her/

Healing waters – https://mostlymyheartsings.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/healing-waters/

(Any WordPress bloggers know why the hotlink button on my blog might no longer be active?)

Soul touching

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courtesy of www.dreamstime.com

dreamstime.com

I introduced you to my young survivor friend earlier this year in Healing Waters and I can’t seem to let go of her. I vowed back in June that I would be here for her, not at all clear what that might look like.  She finishes her 12th course of chemotherapy on Monday (good news – it is working and has significantly shrunk the tumors). She has many difficult decisions ahead – so much information, so many uncertainties, such incredibly difficult choices. She’s a brilliant biologist and relies on data and logic to guide her decisions. The ground is so slippery for her now, given the overwhelming emotions and strong medication swimming in her system.

We met again yesterday, in a quiet lounge at our hospital. Her sister sat beside her, an anchor in the storm. (She came from their home country a couple of months ago on a 6-month visa.) My friend’s heart poured out as she shared her questions, her confusion, fears, and hopes. I shared my truths with her, still leaving so many questions unanswered. Through moments of tears, laughter, silence, sharing and opening, we became as one. Our souls danced together. I could almost grab the healing energy inside our circle of light. I barely know them and I know everything about them.

We are in a private room in the plastic surgery department. I sat in the patient chair. Last time I sat here I was confused and afraid, carrying so many questions. But, today is different. I feel strong and clear.

My friend and her sister sit in chairs across from me. I look deeply into their eyes. I smile gently, holding on to trust, trust that what I am about to do will be comforting and helpful, not scary and add to the confusion and feelings of overwhelm.

Slowly, still looking into my friend’s eyes, I begin to unbutton my sweater. I am completely focused on her as I uncover my right breast for her to see. I breathe again when I see a soft sweet smile rise to her tender face. I sense she finds comfort in what she sees. I move the other side of my sweater so she can see how the reconstructed side compares. We acknowledge the imperfection together. I invite her to touch my reconstructed breast, to see how the silicone feels when it’s been implanted. She gently compares my breasts. 

We continue to sit together for several minutes, me looking into their eyes, searching for the hope I want to give them. They appreciatively looking into mine, their hearts overflowing with gratitude for this tender moment together. Our circle of light radiates as I button my sweater.

This room will never be the same. We will never be the same.

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

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train

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:

Waiting.
for the call.
Cancer?
No cancer?
Patience.
Heaven is right here.
Where I am.
Envision healing light enveloping.
Bereathe.
Be calm, still, quiet.
Rest here.
Connect with my spirit,
The soul in me.
Flow.
Trust.
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.
Waiting.
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.
Waiting.
For the results.
And data to shape my future.
Will the train please slow down.
Will the train please stop.

Where the clouds end

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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

touched.changed.connected.

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TCC

July 6th was pretty much like any other day for me this year. I am lucky for that. That day marks the 2-year anniversary of my abnormal mammogram.

Cancer touches you.

While events in my own life are not triggering raw emotions of that time – when fear and uncertainty seemed to rule the day, what’s going on in the lives of others moves my heart in ways that I cannot explain.

Cancer changes you.

I recently blogged about how meeting a young woman newly diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer touched me unexpectedly. And, today I found myself crying as I read an email from a colleague who lives on the other side of the world and shared news of his wife’s diagnosis of cancer in her lungs, liver and hip. A Pema Chodron quote that was posted on radiatingblossoms has helped me realize that the source of my tears is compassion:

Compassion

 Cancer connects you.