Counting The Blessings of Cancer

Really? Blessings of cancer? Isn’t cancer a horrific disease that kills people after months or years of pain and suffering? In some cases, yes, cancer is a killer disease with treatments that are sometimes far worse than the disease itself. However, I’ve had a very different experience of cancer. Breast cancer, to be specific. And just four short months after my diagnosis, I am cancer free, in excellent health and fitness, and have never been happier in my life.

This wasn’t one of those miracle healings where the cancer just evaporated. From the first diagnosis, I employed a stellar combination of alternative therapies and Western medicine. I chose an excellent facility for surgery (4,000 miles from my Maui home) and had the tremendous loving support and prayers of my husband, my family, my friends, and people who follow my work around the world. My positive attitude and outlook never faltered.

One of the biggest blessings I received from cancer is that it forced me to shift a lifelong pattern that I had tried very consciously to shift over the course of several years. I’ve written about this in previous blogs… if you’ve been following, you may remember my introduction of an aspect of myself called GSD Girl (Get Sh*t Done Girl). Control freak, perfectionist, and workaholic, she’s been a whip master that just won’t quit. I was well aware that this kind of work ethic was unsustainable and not at all fun or joyful, even when I was doing what I loved. But I just could not budge it far enough, fast enough. Enter the breast cancer diagnosis.

I was actually relieved, because I knew that this diagnosis meant that I must bring it all to a grinding halt. I decided to go ahead with one last Reclaiming Aphrodite weekend workshop rather than cancel it, and to bring my diagnosis into the container of the weekend. I’m so glad I did, it was a fantastic workshop for all of us… plus, I have no idea if I’ll be teaching workshops in the future. Right now, the thought of putting in all the work and effort it takes to fill a workshop makes me cringe. I think that’s a good sign!

When I announced my diagnosis, every conceivable cancer “cure” was sent to me. I looked at all of them. I researched and assessed and talked to women who had been through it as well as medical professionals. Within a few weeks, I had decided on my course of treatment and taken the steps to put it all into motion. This is where GSD Girl helped out. I made arrangements to travel to the mainland with my husband, stay with my in-laws, and to receive the finest of care at the Piper Breast Center in Minneapolis. I arranged the surgery date before I left, scheduling both the surgeon to do a double mastectomy and the plastic surgeon to do immediate reconstruction with tissue transplants from my belly fat. (DIEP Flap Reconstruction).

I went into surgery early on the morning of May 29th. After the successful fourteen hour surgery, I was left with a 20″ hip to hip incision, a relocated belly button,  a flat tummy (first time in my life) and of course, a brand new pair of “girls.” The plastic surgeon did a beautiful job and I’ve been assured that the scars will flatten and lighten up over the course of the next year. Because I do not have implants, my new breasts are good for life. All the risk of transplant failure took place in the first 48 hours, during which they monitored my newly connected blood vessels hourly. My new girls are a little smaller and higher, which is fine with me, and they have the shape and feel of normal breast tissue. There are still some tender areas on my body, and places that are numb, and large ridges of scar tissue, but every day they feel better and better.

Post surgery 8 weeks cropped

You can just barely see the abdominal scars crossing my hips!

I was told going in that if they found cancer in my lymph nodes, they would not do the reconstruction so that I could have radiation and it would not be on newly transplanted tissue. I went in fingers crossed and woke up ecstatic that they did the whole deal. In subsequent dissections of the three removed sentinel lymph nodes, they found a micro-metastasis, a very tiny piece of cancer in one node. I was told that I had only a 9% chance of having cancer in my other nodes. After following up with an oncologist before leaving Minneapolis, I learned that my oncotype score came back at 14 out of 100… a low risk of recurrence. By taking a hormone blocker called Tamoxifen over the next few years, I reduce that risk to 9%, and that is with NO CHEMO or radiation. I can live with that! It was interesting to note that when I got back home and consulted with my Maui oncologist, he recommended chemo. It was very empowering to say, “no thank you” and reinforced the strength of my decision to leave the island for treatment.

Two weeks after surgery, I started walking. First, around the block, and then a mile, then four, and six, and one day over eight miles. I returned home with my husband four weeks after surgery. I’m at two months post surgery now, and I can hardly tell I’ve even had surgery! I’m back to 95% of my pre-surgery fitness routine, and back to all my normal activities. Except for one: my old work habits.

So what’s next, you ask? My current intention is this: I am immersing deeply into radical self-care, creating and integrating a healthy new model for my life, health, and work. Key word here is “integrating.” This is where the real tests begin, as I feel fully functional and healthy and ready to place myself again in service to the planet. I’m looking deeply within now for inspiration, rather than pushing myself from a place of motivation. I am opening myself to receiving, rather than seeking and going after what I “think” I “should” be doing. I am entertaining invitations and inner guidance. And I am sharing my story. I started The Breast Cancer Mystery School Facebook page, and will continue to update the Reclaiming Aphrodite Facebook page and website. And I’ll keep on writing.

Please visit the Facebook pages and like them to build the communities. I also welcome your comments below. Thank you for your prayers, your love, your support, and positive energy. It truly made a difference!

Love & blessings, Amrita

This entry was posted in Blessings, Dancing with Cancer, Death & Rebirth, Ecstatic Life, Grace, Gratitude, Reclaiming Aphrodite, Sacred Feminine, The Solar Feminine, Wholeness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Counting The Blessings of Cancer

  1. Shari says:

    My lovely daughter…you are an amazing woman. I love you so much.

  2. Shanti says:

    You’re my HERO Amrita…paving the way for so many! Showing us what else is possible beyond our limited way of thinking. You go Girl!!! I love you fiercely!

  3. Melinda Anderson says:

    So happy to see how beautifully you have walked this journey and how AMAZING you look! Sending you love and hugs.

  4. Suzan Steinberg says:

    Your ability to speak your truth comes across loud and clear. That my dear is a gift.I have had many health challenges through the years and never felt I was in control of my fears. I will always reach back to your words of wisdom and reflect on your amazing gift . I thank you..

    • Amrita Grace says:

      You are welcome, Suzan… and I thank you for your honest sharing here. I’ve been witness to the grace with which you carry yourself through your challenges, and you have been an inspiration to me. Blessings!

  5. You, my dear soul, are such an inspiration! I’m sending this on to a friend who’s just had her diagnosis. You shine like the sun!!!

  6. Amrita you have been on my mind and in my heart since your announcement. It hit me hard because I am about to go through something similar. Would love to talk with you when you feel up to it. So many blessings and thank you for sharing your amazing story! God Bless you!

    • Amrita Grace says:

      I believe you know how to reach me, Jennifer, email me anytime. Blessings on your journey, I know you have the tools, support and fortitude to navigate it with grace!

  7. Michael Murray says:

    So what if there is a scar. If it bothers someone, that is THEIR stuff.
    Thank you for sharing on this procedure.
    Being a guy I may not need this yet having this info for others is a Goddess send.
    Thank you for you being you.
    (& of course facebook for where I saw it)
    May you have Peace, Love & Happiness, with Compassion, Forgiveness, & Understanding as you continue your Journey.
    Michael ;o)

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Michael. Breast cancer is simply a metaphor for all the difficulties we go through as humans, be we in a male or female body this time around. I’m proud of my scars in a warrior kind of way 🙂 Blessings!

  8. Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with me. You are amazing.. The desire to listen to my heart and passion for what is next is similar to what I hear you doing. Congratulations. We are no longer needing to be good girls by working hard and pleasing others. Now it is our turn. Time for us. Time to be authentic and live our passion. Many hugs and love, Susan

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Ah, the parallel journeys with my sisters, I love it! May we become ever more authentic and passionate… the days of working hard to prove our worth are over. May it always be so! Blessings to you, Susan.

  9. Testicular cancer in 2007 was the best thing that happened to me. It was a lot of what I was working with and through at Burning Man (the year we met, I believe!). It softened my edges, opened me up to spirit, and gave me the opportunity to learn and practice willing sacrifice. It made space for grace in me!

  10. Amrita YoU dId iT!!!! YeeeeeeaY!!!! I’m so happy that you made the choices you did and so glad you documented them all for us to pass onto anyone else who might need that info in the future! You are an inspiration, just reading this has made me consider my own GSD girl, she’s been becoming more visible lately while the option of being more present and intune with the moment has been asking me to play. You inspire me because GSD, as efficient as she is, she has lost sight of the important things like eating an ice cream cone and enjoying each bite, like listening to the breeze and allowing it to wave through me, and like stopping and playing a game with a friend because I want to play 🙂

    Thank you Amrita for being who you are and walking the path you do 🙂
    Kisses ~Gaianna!

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Dearest Gaianna, thanks for your comment, which helps me remember every day to make the choices that support being in the moment with what I want to experience. I’m so glad the reflection of GSD girl was helpful to you! Much love to you.

  11. taradixon says:

    Amrita- I am so happy to read this news of you being cancer free. Thanks for sharing your process. I can’t help but noticing you sending out this recent (lovely) opt-in at this time to weed out your email list as well. Good for you! May you be surrounded by only the positive and have none of your precious wisdom be being wasted. You are such a bright light and I am grateful for you, your health, vibrancy and gifts. in gratitude- Tara

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Tara, how lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words and support… I am taking in all that you have offered with gratitude and a deep breath. Much love to you, Sister.

  12. Amrita Grace, I cant tell u how Inspiring your story is!!! I’m soooo proud of you! You go Girl! Thank u 4 sharing your choices – it can help so many women. U look great! So pleased with your choices to shift your life & go into your feminine more. I relate to that & luv the results. Presently I’m enjoying being a traveling gypsy Dakini 4 the 1st time along the W coast…Keep up the good work. So glad your story is a success story. We need more of those : )

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Thanks Sheea, traveling gypsy dakini! Great to hear from you and glad you have having a good experience. Yes, these success stories are really important for women to hear. Be well!

  13. My next ? is did it cost a fortune? Sounds like it would….or were there programs/grants 4 that…?

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Yes, it cost a small fortune, and thankfully I had good health insurance that covered the bulk of it. The insurance was a COBRA plan from Apollo’s employer after he was laid off, and the premiums were quite high, but we are so grateful that we were able to retroactively engage the COBRA plan as I was diagnosed two weeks after the plan ended. Total cost was around $120K.

  14. Rosalind Mae Reis says:

    Dear Dear Amrita,
    Oh, you are such a Goddess of trans-form-ation!!
    I can feel/see a new skin.
    I celebrate, marvel, and am grateful for your new you!
    Beautiful!!
    I bless Apollo and all who have
    aided and supported you on this journey.
    I honor your innate wisdom and
    recognize the phenomenal contribution
    of YOU, in all your parts!!
    Love,
    Your Mermaid Sister,
    Rosalind

    • Amrita Grace says:

      Beautiful Roz
      I have felt you with me all along the way
      Your positive thoughts and prayers have embraced me
      Your acknowledgement of those who have supported me
      Is most appreciated and welcomed
      Each one has been part of my journey
      Just like you.

      Love & blessings, Amrita

  15. Bonnie Raniewicz says:

    Thank you Amrita for sharing your story! You are an inspiration to all of us.! Best wishes for continued health, joy and love.

  16. Leeanna says:

    Congratulations – you did GREAT ! Thanks for sharing – I have been watching from afar and have found you to be very inspiring. You are looking awesome ! I often reflect on our hike in Haleakala. May you have Peace, Love & Happiness, as you journey continues.

  17. Kiovanna says:

    I am (almost) speechless, shaken to the core! I feel the tender connection as your sister from afar. Reading your blog and witnessing your pleasure and power literally shifted me into a new relationship with Cancer. I lost my Mom to this when I was 14 years old, so I GET IT, and I AM THRILLED with your attitude, energy, and approach to the challenge. You have created a new vortex of radiance for women who go through this ultimate journey and initiation of the body temple in trust & surrender . AHO

    • Amrita Grace says:

      What a beautiful blessing to read your words and feel your love, Kiovanna! I’m thrilled that you found benefit from my experience and I have much gratitude for being able to have a positive impact on women and their relationship to cancer, whatever that might be. LOVE!

  18. Liliana says:

    SO glad to hear you are now cancer free!! My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and as of April this year he was given the good news he was cancer free!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  19. Aloha Amrita,
    I loved your story. i love your courage to change. I love the way you look in your bikini.
    I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer 2 1/2 years ago. My urologist suggested that I join his “cancer support” group. He said that I could visit other doctors to discuss chemo and radiation. All of his suggestions were not what I wanted to do at that time. I took 6 months to change. First was eating right. No sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no gluten. IV therapy of different vitamins, H2O2. Lots of rest. More spiritual work. And, emotional work – expressing my manhood in a clear and concise way.
    After 6 months, I revisted my urologist. He was ‘blown away.” My PSA scores were almost normal.
    I continued to eat the same and take care of my spiritual and emotional needs. I continue to visit my urologist and now my PSA scores are normal. I have removed the cancer from my prostate and I am cancer free.
    I am a believer. I am living proof, as you are, Amrita that we can heal ourselves.

    Love,

    Robert

    • Amrita says:

      Robert! How wonderful to hear your story of healing from cancer! I’m just thrilled for you and for me, too. Blessings on your continuing journey to wholeness. Much love, Amrita

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