What's your story? My story begins with an end. I was 16 when my mother died of breast cancer. I held onto the grief over her death for 31 years. I liked to say that I was over her death, that it did not still have a hold over me, but I was wrong. The first opening into that grief happened during my first ayahuasca session about 7 years ago. I mourned, I purged, I experienced the other side of death. I said I finally released the grief I was still holding onto. Again, I was wrong. Multiple ayahuasca sessions later, I still was holding onto the grief, though it felt further away. It was almost like a security blanket at this point. Without that grief, who was I?
I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in early 2017. I felt that my cancer journey and my mother’s were intertwined, that her journey was my journey. I worked with a shaman friend because I was feeling like my energy was off between having a double mastectomy and starting chemo. She drummed herself into an altered state and did a soul retrieval for me. She returned and told me that the little girl I was before my mom died was not able to come back until I finally released what I had been holding onto for decades. I took that information and tried to work through it the best I could. My first 4 rounds of chemo were every other week for 4 rounds.
Some time between rounds 2 and 3 I woke up in the middle of the night, probably around 2am. It was during this moment that I spoke to my mom and told her to take a seat, that I did not need her anymore, that this is my journey and I am going to do it my way. It was in that instant, that I felt 31 years of grief float away like the release of a balloon. There was no sadness, no guilt, no pain, just a lightness that I had not experienced since I was much younger, before the word cancer affected my life when she was diagnosed when I was 13.
By doing things my way, I was able to laugh and enjoy life in spite of cancer treatment. I rocked a rainbow wig, multiple fantastical scarf creations and skipped through treatment with a middle finger in the air.
I’ve learned that sometimes the Universe throws feathers, and if you don’t pay attention she will throw a brick. I believe that my first ayahuasca session was the feather and the cancer was the brick. I created my cancer by holding onto that energy for so long. And, if I can create, I can also destroy. Through embracing my diagnosis, sending love, light and positive energy to the cancer cells along with amazing modern medicine, I have healed myself physically, emotionally, spiritually and energetically. In healing myself, I have also healed the future history for my daughter and nieces, who also lost their mother to breast cancer.
What makes you nervous about having your portrait taken? I am nervous that I will not recognize myself through someone else's eyes.
Can I share some of your images? Yes
What do you love doing that makes you feel kick ass? I love to belly dance.
What inspired your portraits? I was inspired to see the beauty that I was not feeling since my failed breast reconstruction and living flat. What bad ass women inspire you? I am inspired by women who smile and laugh in the face of difficult things, those women who do not lose their sparkle when others would curl up and cry.
Any Other Comments? I want my story to show that even though bad things happen to people, it's how we respond to it that shows who we are and what we are made of. I now believe I am made of rainbows, unicorns and sparkles!