CANCER AND METAMORPHOSIS

I like to skim through some women’s magazines occasionally.  I am more of a book reader, but am amazed at what I can learn from a few short articles.

     I was reading the print magazine Oprah, which is available online at OPRAH.MAG.COM and was intrigued by an article titled “Shifting Tides” by the well known author and life coach, Martha Beck. (May 2019 p. 82-83).

     In vernacular, this article ‘Hit me between the eyes.”  The life coach was talking to a client who was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after being a victim of the horrible and devastating Hurricane Harvey. She was suffering all the classic symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, eating and drinking too much, along with terrible flashbacks. Understandably the most innocuous rainstorm terrified her.

    Beck’s approach was an excellent one.  She suggested embracing the rain rather than being afraid. She told her client to play in the rain, catch drops on her tongue and witness the beauty of sparkling raindrops.  The client did this successfully, but the following day the shaking and crying continued with the emotional waves, which are difficult to overcome.

     Beck explains to the hurricane survivor that she is actually healing. She made a comparison that I think is wonderful for cancer survivors too! She talks about the metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly.  What I did not know is that in the cocoon, the caterpillars actually dissolve and become liquid before they are changed into the beautiful butterflies. The dissolved state is difficult but they come out a different creature.

     There is more in this article about the stages of healing, but this part truly resonated with me.  When we are diagnosed with cancer and hear the dreaded big C word, most of us dissolve. We are in the numb stage, experiencing shock, dismay, and other negative emotions that hit with a vengeance. Then we have the treatments and assaults to our body to endure.  However, we do metamorphose into a beautiful new creature like the butterfly – stronger and more positive than before. We will never be the cocoon again, because we have faced the fear of death, the pain and the trauma.

     I was talking to a group of survivors recently, and several of us acknowledged that cancer had actually introduced us to a new appreciation of life, along with new friends and experiences we never had before.  We had changed forever. Every one of our experiences was different, our types of cancer were diverse, and our treatments varied widely.  But we all had one thing in common - we came out stronger. Many of us volunteer and reach out to others as a result of our experiences.  I personally can say I have met many incredible people through my journey.  I will never go back to the cocoon, although going ahead is scary, because I have an incurable type of cancer.  However, I feel like the butterfly because I survived the metamorphosis and my wings are soaring!  We all should embrace this – no matter what trauma we have gone through!