Finding Strength in Healing

by Mia TardiveSurvivor, Stage 3 Breast CancerDecember 8, 2020View more posts from Mia Tardive

The thing about growing and moving on from something that once consumed you whether it be an illness, a relationship or any life experience for that matter, is that it truly is a process that is so incredibly complicated, to say the least. You may actually feel at times as if you’ve moved on and the scars aren’t as visible and then BAM! Something stops you dead in your tracks and the vulnerability you thought you had tucked away is front and center once again.

Healing emotionally from my trauma of Stage 3 Breast Cancer has probably been much more difficult than the physical healing to be honest…. which wasn’t a walk in the park by any means. It also has been much more unpredictable, which adds to its complexity. The scars that are not quite so visible to others, glare at me when I hear, see or experience things that open those wounds up in a way that brings about even more pain, frustration and confusion. Why can something so simple as a not so great comment about my hair send me into a tailspin? It’s because just “hair” to some signifies a traumatic experience of running my fingers through mine and it coming out in clumps. Looking at my pillow in the morning and seeing hair everywhere. It signifies the horrific experience of shaving my head, being bald and feeling like the ugliest person on the planet.

I’ve come so incredibly far from that experience and those feelings, yet just typing them now make tears roll down my cheeks. It’s the same as listening to people nonchalantly talk about someone “surviving” cancer, a divorce or any life changing event. “Surviving” is a process. You don’t just snap out of it and go about your merry way. I didn’t anyway. It is hurtful when people assume you should just be over it. It takes work. It takes reflection. It takes time. Healing. Is. Hard.

There is strength, however, in making changes to your existence based on your experiences. There is strength in realizing and deciding what you have room for in your life and what you don’t. It actually takes a lot of bravery to admit to yourself when something or someone doesn’t really fit. It can be scary moving in a new or different direction, but how freeing to be true to yourself for a change. I’ve known this to be true, but after my battle I can say I actually feel this down to the depths of my soul. I literally can feel how important it is to not tolerate less than what I believe I deserve. I don’t believe that waking up in the morning feeling anxiety, sadness or any sort of conflict is ok.

We are all here for such a short time. When an event, situation or someone’s words or actions cause you to feel less than you are, what is the point in giving those words, situations or actions that much power? Why let them, or any event even influence you in any way? Living authentically means facing hard truths and putting action into motion where perhaps you once felt complacency . I think the greatest strength in all of this, is realizing you are worth putting your needs ahead of all of the negativity and noise you may be facing. Be strong enough to cry and then also to let go. Be strong enough to go after your goals despite setbacks. Nothing is too far out of reach, unless you don’t believe in yourself and what you are capable of. Be strong enough to acknowledge when your scars are visible and thank them for what they have taught you. Use them as your compass to greatness.

Clearly from what I’ve been writing about today, I’ve been really feeling the burden, albeit gift, of my story lately. I am, however, so dead set on trying to not just move on, but grow from it. Not in a way that means forgetting what I’ve endured, but rather I’m letting it guide me. I desire change, but not just any change. I desire positive life changing, life GIVING change. Change in my look, my environment and at times who I surround myself with. Weeding out the stuff that weighs me down so I can fly perhaps higher than I ever have. This is my chance after all! This is my do over. My second chance. I want peace, I want positivity and I want to move forward with a strength that means to me, that I have learned from my experience. I intend to live life differently. How do you want your life to go? Don’t wait for the bottom to fall out from under you to wake up and edit.

I wish it hadn’t taken near death to give me so much life, but that’s just the way it worked for me. Experiencing life is a beautiful thing. It is also beautiful to let go of things, people and/or situations that drain your spirit. Feed your soul, my friend. You have the power to heal and the strength to choose…always.


All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at https://www.elephantsandtea.com/contact/submissions/.

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