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by Patricia Bateson

Inspiration image

The date October 8, 2003, will be etched in my heart forever, for it was this glorious day that my life would be transformed in miraculous ways. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2003, and I experienced shock, anger, and fear, like many newly diagnosed cancer survivors. Once I grappled with these emotions, I attempted to take control of my life, or at least I thought I did. My goal was to complete my treatments as soon as possible so I could return to my career.

You see, I was an oncology nurse. I was accustomed to supporting others, and I was not enjoying this role reversal one bit. But life does not always go as planned, for shortly after diagnosis I developed severe abdominal pain. After a myriad of tests, nothing was conclusive; however, my symptoms did not abate. I was unable to return to work, which added to my frustration.

I put out to the universe an “SOS.”

This pattern continued for several months, and I became greatly fatigued and experienced weight loss and depression. The pain would awaken me every night, and my thoughts would ramble off to foreign places I did not care to be. I felt alone and wondered if I would ever get out of this dark place.

Alas, on October 8, 2003, my transformation began. For on this magnificent day, I finally spoke my truth. I put out to the universe an “SOS.” It was a cry for help that I desperately needed. I finally surrendered to a higher power by asking God to ease my burden as I could no longer handle it alone. Suddenly, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. For the first time since my diagnosis, I had acknowledged my deepest feelings and fears to others. They were now coming to assist me, for it was my turn to be comforted.

I now understand that nothing in life is a coincidence and that everything happens for a reason. My cancer diagnosis was a wake-up call that taught me many invaluable lessons.

The first lesson I learned is that I was never alone. I was surrounded by loving, compassionate people, but I needed to ask for guidance. I was accustomed to being the giver, but it was now my turn to be on the receiving end. It has filled my heart with much gratitude.

Surrendering to a higher power through prayer, trust, and faith allowed me to release my pain and be free. Believing in myself and acknowledging my inner strength, courage, and resiliency has been enlightening. I realize that my body had been weakened by a barrage of tests, surgeries, and other elements, including fear, and it was letting me know I was out of balance. I was being given the opportunity to reclaim my life and heal my mind, body, and spirit.

This has truly been a remarkable experience, and to now be able to share my story with other survivors is a blessing. For when we share our challenges and triumphs, not only do we give hope, but we also help one another heal. I can think of no greater gift than that.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Patricia Bateson is an oncology nurse at Commonwealth Oncology/Hematology in Lawrence, MA.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2008.