11 Years of Thriving Despite Cancer!

Eleven years ago today, my life changed completely. This was the day, October 20th, 2004, that I found out I had breast cancer. It was a sucker punch to the gut. I doubled over in terror. Complete fear permeated my body. I remember wondering if I would ever breathe deeply again.

Now here I am, eleven years later, breathing deeply. Reflecting on the amazing life I’ve crafted. From the despair of cancer, I became a triathlete. I started the Red Riders and Team Red. I started TeamWILD Athletics. I learned how to build and run WordPress websites and navigate social media. I became the Local Leader of P.ink Day Minneapolis and I joined the Board of Directors of P.ink, to help breast cancer survivors connect with gifted tattoo artists for works of art to go over their mastectomy scars.

Amazing breast cancer survivor sisters on 10/10! Photo by Paul Nelson.
Amazing breast cancer survivor sisters on 10/10! Photo by Paul Nelson

Best of all, along the journey, I’ve met incredible people. People who I love deeply and who I know love me. Without the people around me, I wouldn’t have made it. These dear friends supported me when I was weak and beyond out of it. They reminded me I could walk, that I could breathe. They helped me see the dim light at the end of the tunnel.

It has not been an easy path to walk. I had to look deep inside to find strength I wasn’t sure I would find. I even had to embrace the terror. Running from it has never served me. Along the way, I’ve gathered the courage to look the childhood sexual abuse I survived in the face.

I started my healing journey in regards to the abuse, when I lived in Santa Cruz and was in the October 17th, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. My memories cracked open like the streets I saw crack open. I was fortunate, I was able to join a support group run by Ellen Bass and Amy Pine. Ellen wrote the book The Courage to Heal. The one thing that remained, many years later, was shame that I had survived sexual abuse. So I never mentioned it, ever. Very few people knew that I had survived that first trauma.

I now understand that my diabetes and cancer are linked to the profound trauma my body was under, from the moment I was born. And now that I am older and wiser, I can learn and I can take care of myself in a different way. I no longer have people in my life who are unable to support me. People who haven’t themselves looked at their backstories and sorted themselves out. I breathe deeply many, many times a day and draw my attention back to my body. I finally can hear the deep wisdom in my body. I think of my connection to Earth, and visualize myself grounded and whole.

Echo the Athlete Dog!
Echo the Athlete Dog!

Eleven is one of my favorite numbers! So today, to celebrate my beautiful life, I am going on a run with my sweet, very athletic dog, Echo. I will sit in meditation and breathe deeply. I am grateful for every strange, difficult, amazing things and events that I have lived through. Thank you for reading this post! May you have a fabulous day too!

Here is Reclaiming the Mirror, the show made by TPT – Twin Cities, the Minneapolis-St. Paul PBS station. It’s about P.ink Day. May you enjoy it!



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4 thoughts on “11 Years of Thriving Despite Cancer!”

  1. Congratulations Mari!!! It takes a lot of courage to cope with trauma and illness. You are truly a hero in my eyes. Knowing and loving you is a tremendous gift. And, thank you for being there for me yesterday as I had, hopefully, my No Evidence of Cancer (NEC) CT scan. We walk this journey together and marvel at the miracles we experience each day. Never give up!!!

    • Alex,
      Thank you!!! You and I are indeed walking a similar journey!!! It is a joy to have you as a companion. I love the many miracles we experience!!! I will “never give up”!!! Not with you nearby!!

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