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The Perfect Gift

I wrote this blog two years ago and it has been my most shared blog when other people come to me and say, “What can I buy my friend/mother/sister etc – what did you want/need” when they are sadly diagnosed with breast cancer (or any cancer) – I always send the link to this blog.  So I have re-published, with a few additions.  It’s also been published HERE.

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You get the news… a friend or family member has just been diagnosed. You are in shock, you cry and you want to see them.

Then… you wonder what you can do for them. Flowers? Chocolates? What do you even buy someone who’s just received this awful news?

Their life has just turned crazy, they’re having more tests and scans, they’re having surgery, they’re organising their life so they can function with their kids through the coming months of chemo and radiotherapy… what can I do? What can I buy? What do I say?

I have worked together with the amazing gals in my young breast cancer support group, to ensure that you know what to do if something like this affects a loved one.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime… chances are that you will know someone, even if you don’t just yet.

8 women die each day from Breast Cancer.

[Source: nbcf.org.au]

Let’s get started… I’ve broken them down into different categories.

IN THE BEGINNING – IT’S EARLY DAYS…

A beautiful shoulder bag.

Why? To carry their drains and tubes after breast surgery – it’s a great way to disguise them so you can get out and about.

Drain Bags

Me, my drain bags that were kindly given to me post bilateral mastectomy [and a snap chat filter 🙂 ]

Host a lunch/dinner with close friends before the first chemo or surgery.

It’s such a great feeling to see everyone before you begin treatment. Knowing they’re all in your corner cheering you on is really encouraging.

catch-up-before-chemo

 

Cards and Flowers

These are beautiful gestures in the beginning because you are so busy with appointments, tests, scans and surgeries, it’s not always possible for you to be able to see them. This tells them that you’re thinking of them and it’s also a great gesture if you’re not really close friends, yet you want to show your support and good wishes as they take on their battle.

AS TIME GOES BY…

Thoughtful and personalised hampers

I think I received about four beautiful hamper style gifts. They were tailored and meant the world to me. They included things like magazines for both hubby and myself. Herbal teas, candles and different items with tags attached, explaining what the purpose for the item was for.   I had kind friends that knew exactly what to do (and tug on the heart strings… I was so incredibly moved by the generosity and genuine thought and effort that went into these gifts). To me it said “I’m thinking of you, I’m here for you and I just wish I could take it all away, but I can’t” I felt both the pain of my friends and the warmth and love through their gifts.

 

Movie Night (in PJ’s)

My girlfriends dropped around a pair of beautiful silk PJ’s during the day before we all got together that night, it was such a special surprise.

pjs-from-girls

 

A beautiful blanket

Can be taken to chemo or used at home on the lounge.

Natural Beauty Products

Lip balms, Hand Cream, Nourishing body creams, essential oils – perhaps even a bath kit (steer clear of any nasty chemicals as the skin becomes very sensitive during treatment).

A gorgeous Head Scarf

Whilst an emotional gift to give, it will be truly appreciated.

 headscarf

 

A written card

Don’t underestimate the old-fashioned ‘hand written’ card – it honestly means the world.  This time round I’ve had a special friend of mine send a card and a little meaningful gift every few weeks.  She’s still doing it and it’s 2.5 months post surgery and that is the most beautiful thing because she understands that whilst the heightened stress dims down, the emotional rollercoaster continues – her act of friendship on a regular basis really reaches out and says that she loves and cares for me and I value her so much for this.

cards

I kept every single card I received.

 

A beautiful notepad – Where they can document side effects and questions to take to each medical appointment.  I know The Grace Files do beautiful journals.

A nice basket – To store medication at easy reach (trust me – there will be a lot of drugs – anti-nausea, steroids, pain killers, sleeping tablets, dry mouth sprays, sick bags, mints etc etc)

Cotton gloves and rich moisturiser – your hands dry out A LOT particularly because you wash your hands so much for the fear of catching germs and getting sick during chemo.

Books – I’d suggest fiction so they can escape reality.

(Beware: there are plenty of books about cancer… what to eat, how to treat, alternative medical opinions etc – unless you know your friend really REALLY well. Be careful… she may not be ready for any kind of self help book or a book that says she can cure her cancer by changing her diet). I know personally, when I was diagnosed, I was soooooo angry about it. I didn’t seek complimentary information until much later down the track, so be careful with book choices as you may unintentionally offend.

Comfortable ‘trackies’ (house pants), Fuzzy socks, New PJ’s (button up for after surgery)

All these ‘comforts’ are truly appreciated and might be just the thing to put a smile on their face.

SENTIMENTAL/SPIRITUAL

Rosary beads/Guardian Angel/Angel of Protection/Prayer books etc

(Caution: some people stray from religion when diagnosed with a life threatening illness so a Religious gift may be offensive. Not everyone turns to religion in difficult times).

THE PRACTICAL

Food – Freezer friendly or call ahead to let them know you are dropping something off. Perhaps between friends you can organise a roster so there isn’t an inundation of food and then nothing when they need it the most. It was soooooo helpful to have meals dropped off – even if I didn’t have an appetite, I knew my family was being looked after (since I’m the cook of the family). It also offers them an opportunity to eat well when they simply can’t be bothered (energy is certainly not running high during treatment).

Online Roster – This time round, diagnosis two, four years later a beautiful friend of mine organised a food roster with the other kindy mums.  They did it through this site Take Them a Meal and it worked brilliantly.  Initially I had family staying post surgery so we didn’t require any meals, yet after that I was on my own with a husband who travels for work.  I opted to have two meals a week delivered just to help me out.  The flexibility of this website allows you to tailor which days you would like meals.  The other huge benefit of an online roster, is that people can nominate what they would like to cook for you, and then everyone can see what is being made – i.e. you don’t end up with ten lasagnes.  I was so appreciative of the support I received from my son’s kindergarten community (particularly only having lived in our new city for six months – what a beautiful community we have moved to).

Groceries – Drop off some fresh fruit and veg – this is an incredible gift to receive, particularly if your loved one has a children or many mouths to feed.

Aloe Vera Plant – This was one of the most thoughtful gifts from a fellow cancer fighter and friend. I used the Aloe Vera on my radiotherapy burns – it was a Godsend.

radiotherapy-burns

My mum rubbing aloe vera into my radiotherapy burns.

Offer to be a note taker

Offer to attend medical appointments even if they have their husband or partner or parent etc. I remember the week I was diagnosed, we were in Sydney and in JUST one day, I saw my breast surgeon, had to get another urgent biopsy, saw a fertility specialist, an oncologist, back to the fertility specialist and back again to the breast surgeon (yep one crazy, emotionally charged day, my head was spinning). My hubby and I had my sister in law come to some of the appointments just to be an extra set of ears. We had so many decisions to make with regard to IVF and the type of breast surgery I was going to have… I was distracted and my head was not clear – I was too busy being shocked and afraid that I might die and not see my children grow.   Having my sister in law with us meant that she could recall the information that we’d forgotten.

Offer to start a private FB Group

By having a One Stop ‘update’ shop so to speak is a great way to lessen the burden of replying to 20 texts and 10 phone calls when you are exhausted. I didn’t do this, but I think it’s a great idea.

DON’T FORGET THE KIDS AND HUBBY/SUPPORT PERSON…

Sadly, cancer creates a ‘big arse’ mess and it changes everything. All of a sudden ‘home life’ is not as it was and things are stressful, sad and tense at times. Kids and partners feel the pain too. They need a break just as much as ‘mum’.

Boys weekend for hubby or partner

Offer to take the kids out for the day for some fun (so they can still be kids).

MOST IMPORTANT – (FOR THE CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY)

  • Educate yourself (my blog is a great place to start). Anything in Blogtober (2016) or my current Blogtober (2018) will give you an insight into feelings, treatments etc. You can also check out Cancer Council Australia and National Breast Cancer Foundation Australia.
  • Listen – REALLY listen – if they’ve chosen you to talk to then they value your friendship (or they wouldn’t bother). It’s really exhausting to talk, so they’ve picked you for a reason. We face really big decisions throughout treatment, sometimes we will want to talk about the same thing over and over again – are you right for the job?
  • Create laughter – lots of it.
  • Don’t wait for them to reach out – you need to reach in (a quote from my hubby – he said this to my friends right from the start “Bec won’t reach out you need to be there and you need to reach in” he said).
  • Offer open-ended invitations – maybe it’s a no to coffee this week, but perhaps a yes next week when they’re feeling better and need company.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

Ensure all presents and offers of support are with no strings attached. Don’t expect a written thank you or for them to write a text to the ten people who dropped food off this week (whilst we try as hard as we can – the very thought of sitting with your phone to write 15 messages or call 10 people is utterly exhausting). When I felt good, I wanted to embrace my family and try as hard as I could to show them that their mum and wife still existed.

Trust in the fact that no matter how great or small the gesture, your thoughts, actions of good will, love and prayers mean the absolute world to anyone fighting cancer.

Love Bec x

P.S. Don’t forget them after treatment – Post treatment is one of the most difficult and isolating stages to overcome. A lot of woman suffer from shock and delayed realisation of what they’ve been through in the past months. They need your support and friendship more than ever when they’ve ticked that last treatment box.

P.P.S. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

A New Moon…

New Moon definition/

A new moon happens every 29.5 days – when the side of the moon facing the earth is in total darkness.  In astronomy, a new moon marks the first lunar phase.  The original meaning of the term is the first visible crescent of the moon, which is briefly visible when it’s low above the western horizon just after the sun has gone down.  As a new moon represents the start of a new lunar cycle, it symbolises new beginnings.

Why I love a new moon?

… After darkness comes light, yet, before I am ready for the light, I need time to stop, take check, reflect and figure out what my new intentions are.

A new moon gives an opportunity of re-setting, reflecting and intention setting every 29.5 days – so there’s ample opportunity to jump on board – it’s not about ‘new years resolutions’ it’s not about goal setting once a year and potentially failing, only having to wait another entire year to start over…

Our purpose and intent for life is something that is ever evolving.  It changes; we change!  We change through the growth of experiences that have touched us.  Constant growth and evolution is exactly why there is no use getting too ahead of ourselves.  Our true power and ability is in the now – present tense (forget the 5 year plan).  If we get ahead of ourselves with too much forward planning, scheduling or goal setting – we can lose sight of ourselves in the process.

The art of living on purpose, is being able to hear our heart’s desires, be proficient in connecting with the power of our mind, our spiritual magic, our intuition, our inner guidance of knowing – and being able to connect with that regularly.

The New Moon is an opportunity to gently review my position, reflect on the past month and see how I sit with my purpose and intention.  It’s a beautiful opening to re-align, and attune to what no longer serves me, to course correct and be lead by my intuition – only we truly know what is best for ourselves – yet we can only hear this knowing if we allow and create space to hear it.

We can sometimes lose our sense of intuition and true path of life when we don’t turn down the volume of life, when we don’t take time out.  When we don’t stop to take check!

The new moon excites me, I allow myself the opportunity to have a spiritual ritual and create a relaxing and soothing environment.  It’s a time where I purposefully and lovingly create space (it’s ‘you’ time – what’s not to love about that). I allow myself to fully immerse and engage in the beautiful gift of darkness, silence and stillness offered perfectly by the new moon. It’s like having access to a reset button, and we all can agree that from time to time a reset button can be pure gold – a chance to restore to ‘factory settings’ aka ‘our true selves’.

My rituals depend on how I’m feeling, how much time and effort I have at that particular point in time. I take a no pressure approach and simply do what I feel like – I am working on an easy ‘how-to’ guide and an enticing ‘menu’ of beautiful options, so that you too can implement a new moon ritual or practice into your routine.  So keep a look out or even send me an email or a comment if you’ve never done this before and wish to give it a go (I’ll even be hosting some new moon intention setting sessions for those that live close by).

Spirituality aside – ACTUALLY, I may rephrase that… Spirituality combined– I’m an incredibly practical person! I understand family life, the demands and practicalities of everyday life.  I understand life with illness and most of all, I understand the brute strength of life when it tries to break you.  I’m not an ‘airy fairy’ person I’m not aloof and I’m not in a dream world where I dismiss reality, quite the contrary, I am firmly grounded and rooted in the chaos and difficulty of everyday life.

This blog ‘One Life’ is all about balance and integration AND YES you CAN be spiritual AND practical and this is exactly what I’ve always been about.  Meeting life challenges with presence, trust and belief – taking the time to go inwards so that I can survive the outer world – the outer experience. I would not have emotionally and psychologically survived the onset and ongoing stress of a child with a chronic illness and on top of that the two times I have faced breast cancer and the continuum of what a person who has had cancer continues to live with.

I am incredibly in touch with the inner me, and through years and years of practice, I’ve been able to peacefully accept and still smile through traumatic and scary life events. I’ve learnt how to live in peace despite fear and learnt to live a life of choosing not driven by thatfear – it has taken a very long time and I have worked incredibly hard.

I never stop working on the power of my mind.  To live congruently with my ideas, values and spiritual practice, it involves ongoing maintenance.  It’s discipline, ongoing education, self-development and patience.  It has required me to completely, openly and lovingly surrender to the path of my life – whatever comes my way.  It’s acceptance, peace, grace and love for whatever is– the good, the bad and the ugly – and how I chooseto experience (and I sure as hell have seen a lot of ‘ugly’).

So to sum up my opening question, ‘Why do I love the new moon?’ – it’s simply because various stages of the moon cycle act as a natural timekeeper to checking in with myself – ensuring that I allow myself time to naturally evolve and progress.  It is a gift I give to myself every new moon (29.5 days) – it excites me, it fills my cup.

Is this something you might like to try?  Are you wanting to stay on track or at least give yourself some space to figure out what you want and how you want to feel?  Do you want an opportunity to self-reflect?  Are you caught up in the daily grind and every day is the same? Day’s turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and before you know it years and years go by and you wonder what you’ve done with your life!  You may sit scratching your head wondering why you haven’t achieved any of your hopes or dreams or perhaps you’re living without something truly meaningful  – without something that lights you up and sets your heart on fire?

Maybe a simple full moon practice might bring some sparkle to your life or at least provide some time and space to hear yourself – hear your own thoughts and heart dreams.

[Just be mindful – intention setting is very different to goal setting.  Intentions are about how something makes you feel, it’s about wholehearted fulfilment.  Goal setting is outcome driven and sometimes lacks soul, goal setting can be too ego driven. Don’t get me wrong; I set practical goals also (not always, but certainly when I need accountability in my life), yet usually my goals are an extension of my intentions to ensure that I’m staying true to myself].

I give thanks to finding a new moon practice and I get excited each time it roles around.

Bec x

P.S. I will continue to talk more about this topic, spirituality and mindset post Blogtober – And probably via email form as well as my blog, so feel free to subscribe HERE so you don’t miss out on anything.

P.S. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

Slow Down Sunday

Today’s blog is exactly as the title suggests…

Sundays for me (and as a family) is a day to take the pressure down, move slowly and remove all expectations that often sit on our shoulders more heavily from Monday to Friday.  We like to choose what we would like to do as a family and then I personally like to choose what I would like to do (a few little things that individually make me happy).

Sunday is a day to reset, rebalance and recharge, and so the saying goes:

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”

My Sunday so far…

  • I got up at 6am and spent some time outside with our new puppy ‘Pepper’ (we are toilet training, so I got extremely excited when she did a little wee outside, yay, progress).  When I’m outside with her, I just take it all in, I look at the trees swaying above and the green grass beneath my feet – I listen to all the happy birds singing and chirping.  We are just settling into a new house and being in the back yard makes me happy, I slow down and simply take it all in, I could sit out there all day.
  • Put my diffuser on with an elevating blend of Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang and Peppermint (smells amazing).
  • Made my son some breakfast.
  • Made a cup of Tumeric tea and sat out on my front balcony… when I do this I just sit and ponder, I appreciate the sun shining in and listen to my heart in terms of what I want to do for the day.  On weekdays I allow my mind to hold a little more weight in speaking to me about what I need to do on any given day.  Though, on Sundays I allow my heart to speak in terms of wants instead of needs or have to’s – Sunday is a little more about my heart’s desires and eliminating pressure.
  • Sitting here writing this blog.

 

Slow Sunday - image

 

So what will my Sunday bring?  What is my ‘Slow Sunday’ wish list?

  • Well I’m normally a pancake Sunday girl and I mix up a super tall pancake stack for my family, though today a new cafe is calling me.  So we will venture out and try something new.
  • I will top up and mix up some new aromatherapy oil blends, I’m thinking a headache blend, something for focus and energy, a new perfume and a happiness blend.  Most of mine are all very calming based, so today I’m focusing on a bit more zest.
  • We are heading to IKEA so we can set up my daughters study room.  She’s currently in year 10 and going into her senior years so we are creating a space for her to feel organised and calm.  I’m thinking some plants, a white board, perhaps a corner desk and an extra diffuser, she is obsessed with Lavender.
  • Meal planning/grocery order – I’m exploring lots of new recipes at the moment, my new kitchen has given me back my cooking mojo and all of you know how much I love to cook (cooking was my therapy during chemotherapy), so there’s lots of new healthy fresh foods for my family being added to our rotation.
  • An afternoon timeout which will include: meditation, reading my book and a Nanna Nap.  Rest for me is still imperative post surgery.  If you watched THIS video diary, you will know that I’m dealing with a complication on my radiated breast (all of my remaining fills have been put on hold).  I have a wound which is really struggling to heal.  It’s definitely improving, yet, it’s incredibly slow going.  Radiated skin does not heal easily.  This has required so much patience and trust, it’s disheartening, but looking after myself is the best thing I can do to ensure that my body can overcome this hiccup.  So back to this point; REST and some alone time to achieve this, is an absolute MUST.
  • I will catch up on The Bachelor… life has been so incredibly busy and I’ve been too tired to watch tv (this is about the only TV I actually watch) – Somehow I have avoided seeing the result of the finale on social media etc SO PLEASE DON’T TELL ME!!!!
  • Bounce – I will jump on the trampoline with my son.  I’ve been doing this for exercise and it’s very much needed for my lymphatic system (since I have no lymph nodes in my right axilla) I find this SO MUCH FUN and it’s exercise ticked off all at the same time – winning!
  • Sheet Sunday – We wash all our sheets on Sundays (I don’t do any other laundry on Sunday just sheets).  It’s nice to start the week fresh.

Sheet Sunday Image

  • I will have a long hot bath this evening before hopping into bed.
  • Finally – the most important thing to me is being present and enjoying the company of my family as our day unfolds.
  • I LOVE SUNDAYS!

I hope you too can take the time to do what you enjoy, take some time out, take the pressure down and eliminate some of the day to day stress that creeps up on us.

Good health to me is all about balance and reducing stress.

Happy Slow Sunday.

Love Bec x

P.S. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

 

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

 

Release…

This journal entry was written at four weeks post surgery (August 2018).  I allowed myself to get lost in words and let my heart do the translating.  I loved reading back over this. Vulnerability is so incredibly important.

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Dear Diary,

Out of nowhere tears fill my eyes.  My heart swells and an abundance of ready tears roll down my face. My heart is broken yet perfectly in tact.  I think its disbelief?

It’s pain needing to escape because ‘everyday life’ can ensure our emotions stay safely clasped away.  Clasped away until the beauty of solace and divine timing loosen the clasps and allow those beautiful cracks in my heart to bleed and be freed.

The trickles down my cheek as the tears dry away… The remaining two to three drops fall at snails pace, bit-by-bit – so very present.  The cool bead of salt water that sits on my cheek represents so much:  harshness yet softness, fear yet readiness, pain yet acceptance, disbelief yet peace.

My heart feels relief when the tears flow freely – a trigger with no need for unravelling or explanation, the reason not required. Simply trusting in the magic of my own knowing, my own intuition and guided by my heart for the release that is required and when.

I need my soft and delicate tears, I need my vulnerability, I need to feel my pain, tenderness and I need to acknowledge my fears… For my spirit is strong, I experience adversity exactly how I choose and I get by without losing my soul as I have in the past.  The tears, they keep me grounded, they keep me soft and kind and open.

Without health we have nothing and when that is threatened and your pattern of disease has you fearfully questioning your future and the faith in your body, then it is my heart I hold and my spirit I use with the power of my mind to breathe, my senses, my gratitude and my being – presence.

One life, whatever will be will be and for this moment as I breathe deeply – the right now, well this is where you will always fine me – in the majestic sparkle and powerful magic of the present moment…

Where the past cannot hurt me; and

The future cannot scare me; and

I hold the cards of choosing – the cards of gratitude.

Only I hold my beautiful life in my tender hands as my heart beats to the magic of life.

I am.

Love Bec x

P.S. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

 

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

Dear Diary… Farewell Breasts

Day 5 – Farewell Breasts

I remember writing this – I was at the sunshine coast on my own with three nights away from normal life, my routine and even the kids weren’t with me.  I’d been diagnosed one week prior.  This trip was planned as a solo ‘retreat’ just some simple time away, alone before I was even re-diagnosed… a gift that ended up perfectly timed.  It was a time for solitude when I was in the early days of facing breast cancer for a second time.  I didn’t know what exactly was ahead of me; at that point I was just taking day by day and emotionally preparing for my bilateral mastectomy.

A journal Entry… This was 2 days shy of my four year anniversary ‘cancer free’– and boy did falling short of that milestone hurt – It hurt so bad.

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28 June 2018

Dear Diary,

The remembering, the reminiscing and the present moment where I sit right now – Waves crashing meters away… Sitting calm, but knowing wholeheartedly that I need to write something down – the memories and feelings of my breasts.  How I feel about them now, before they are gone.

What I’ll miss…

  • The bounce and jiggle – the feeling when they’re squished and propped up in a Lorna Jane bra and I exercise… my feet pounding the pavement and my breasts dancing softly and fully to the movement.
  • Washing them and softly cupping them in my hands, a real feminine connection to myself (washing my breasts with my hands NOT A SPONGE is how I found my first breast cancer).
  • Rolling onto my side at night and their squishy warm comfort.
  • Lying on my stomach (whilst still a bit uncomfortable from my first surgery, totally doable if they’re positioned correctly).
  • The feeling you get when you release them from a bra at the end of the day… aaahhhh.
  • Rubbing oil across my chest and breasts each morning and night, feeling the warmth and moisture soak into my natural chest
  • Sexuality… when my breasts and nipples are caressed, licked, bitten… that insanely good feeling that shoots straight down… that sensation that tease, that explosive feeling of sexuality and womanly power that immediately turns everything on! What will I do without my two switches? (I know this point is a little X-rated, but seriously, this has been so incredibly difficult, it’s what I was most afraid of.  Not the visible appearance, but what my nipples mean to me, my womanhood and my sensual sexuality).
  • Putting an outfit on and positioning the ‘girls’ in a push up bra to sit in that perfect position, propped up yet still naturally soft.
  • When you forget to wear a supportive bra in RPM/spin class and you hit your first sprint… they feel like they might hit you in the chin and free themselves from your crop top!
  • When my friend used to envy my boobs in teenage years and tell me to “put those tits away, you make me sick” with that cute eye roll – secretly saying, “Girl, stop making me jealous” [You know who you are and I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh out of this one!]
  • Being paranoid after my first child thinking they were ruined forever… but then they got better!!
  • That memory with my first child when my milk came in, my bed was saturated and I looked down – my breasts were so swollen they nearly hit my chin and the nurse says, “Good morning Dolly Parton”.
  • Looking at my breasts lovingly as they change shape through the natural aging process, knowing that I fed my two beautiful babies made everything ok, I love them just the way they are.
  • That feeling I get when I look in a full length mirror naked and I feel whole and lucky and grateful – even though my tummy still has the effects of menopause and I’m no longer ‘ripped’ I’m soft and feminine and I fully accept myself.

A side note on ‘soft and feminine’: I once worked with the most incredible older man of retirement age, he was respectful, polite and warm, he had the aura of wisdom and I know he’d suffered a great loss in his life. I enjoyed his company and working along side such a gracious man. One day when a bunch of us 20 something’s female work colleagues were in the tea room, we were speaking about food, our best methods of exercise to keep shape etc etc and he so bravely interjected and said… “women should be soft and squishy”! [Love it!]

That very comment through times of weight gain due to menopause and various cancer treating drugs kept my sanity and self-love at bay! I didn’t use those words as an excuse but as a means of taking the pressure down a notch in a largely ‘out of my control’ facet of my life.

And so it saddens me that my soft, warm and squishy breasts and my ultra sensitive nipples will be removed…

I will reconstruct… though they will be hard and cold and I will have scars as nipples…

I will learn to love them, I will learn to love these foreign parts of me as my own, I will self accept and I will be kind to myself…

But for this moment… I will grieve the impending loss of my breasts; a part of me which makes me feel feminine, soft and squishy!

 

Love Bec x

P.S. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

 

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

Hart Truths – Part 3

If you missed Part 1 and 2 of this blog, you can catch up:

Part 1 HERE

Part 2 HERE

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Hard Truth 4

Dear Diary… 19 August 2014

“When I’m happy, I seem to be REALLY happy, because to me these little moments of bliss are wondrous. I smile bigger and nearly feel like I could bounce around. It’s ecstasy. Because when I feel good, it’s an absolute blessing. I have now felt rock bottom, so I see a whole new happiness and embracement of life that I didn’t see before.”

*Hard Truth:  The Little things are the big things.

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s the little things”, however, don’t just say it because you’ve heard it and you know what it means…  Often sayings like these are thrown about and not given any conscious thought – You need to truly FEEL it, you need to recognise these little moments of bliss that come to us daily.  These moments truly are what magic’s made of.

Reflection 1 (after first cancer):  I think I started to realise how important little things were more than I’d ever noticed before.  What I was experiencing with my illness were ‘GINORMOUS’ contrasts. When things were bad, they were rock bottom bad; they were highly emotionally ‘bad’ and I would feel desperate to escape.  On the contrary, when things were good, they were INCREDIBLY GOOD.  What made it good were those ‘little things’ the normal every day occurrences that truly began to shine for me – I became more grateful than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Reflection 2 (after second cancer): I constantly ensure that I slow things down when I feel like life is moving too fast. A knowing sign that you’re missing the little things is generally when they annoy you.  What do you mean, I hear you ask?  Well, it’s our nagging children, or annoyance at household chores or being too worked up because we are ‘too busy’ and we ‘don’t have enough time’.  If we truly stop and be present and hear what our children speak, and throw ourselves consciously into our housework, laundry and work for example, you actually start to enjoy it.  Enjoying the mundane tasks of life truly reconnects me to my home and I become grateful for the roof over my head and realise that I actually enjoy being house proud and love to clean and tidy.  [That actually reminds me of the blog I wrote: Reconnecting with your home nearly two years ago  – It’s truly one of my favourites].

I also wrote: Eating Happiness which demonstrates an exact moment where I chose to appreciate George instead of doing twenty things at once and not truly anchoring myself to anything at all.  This one’s totally relatable if you’re a busy mum.

With regard to becoming overwhelmed by being too busy – stop and ask yourself if each of the things you have planned are actually things you are looking forward to. If they are – then slow things down and get in the moment, or they will pass you by and you will just reflect with emptiness because you were caught in ‘overwhelm’ instead of enjoying these wonders of life.

I challenge you Next time you are folding washing, hanging it out or packing/unpacking the dishwasher… practice presence… don’t think about anything else.  Feel the warm water on your hands when washing up, smell the fresh linen as you hang it out, look where the sun is and where a good place is for drying – feel the sun on your face.  Put each dish away in its place and simply do the task without thinking about what ‘next’ task you need to get done.  You’ll probably be more efficient AND you might even enjoy it.

That might sound so ‘stupid’ or ‘idiotic’ to some, however, THE LITTLE THINGS ARE THE BIG THINGS and when I was sick, all I wanted each day was the normal, boring and everyday ‘family life’, because to me that is hands down THE BEST! It’s those little things that are the greatest loves of my life and the very things I was petrified of losing if cancer were to take my life.  I always say, “Normal and boring are the best things in life”.

The Little things are the big things.

_____________________________

Hard Truth 5

Dear Diary… An extract from my journal in 2014

“My life is compromised therefore I exist differently (to others).”

*Hard Truth:  We all exist differently… and that’s ok!

Don’t feel like you need to be like everyone else.  We are all unique individuals, chasing different dreams, fighting different battles, with different sets of challenges.  Exist as you are, be true to yourself and respect everyone’s individuality, internal struggles and their choices.

Reflection 1 (after first cancer):  I remember this feeling so intrinsically and still like it was yesterday.  When I was in the early stages of fighting my disease, I thought someone had put me in a glass box, I was isolated and I didn’t feel like I could relate to anyone. I felt like everyone else in the whole wide world had good health and I didn’t, I felt alone.  I felt like I was experiencing life at a distance, like my life wasn’t really mine… I was in limbo not knowing my future – but guess what??? NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEIR FUTURE HOLDS. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  “All any of us have is NOW”!

Reflection 2 (after second cancer):  What this hard truth speaks to me now is absolutely individualism, but more importantly what we as individuals need from life.  What we need when we feel a certain way, what we need to succeed, to survive and to feel emotionally balanced.  One thing that has become a deep desire and furthermore a requirement in my life, is alone time.  I don’t need much of if, but it’s true, we all do exist differently as I depict in this hard truth.  We must ensure that we have time to check in with ourselves, so we can hear our own thoughts, to hear our heart’s desires and to simply just STOP and take check. I need this constantly to rebalance. I will talk more about ‘alone time’ during Blogtober 2.0.

I also know that it’s ok to have support from people who haven’t walked in my shoes. I feel it’s important that I too can offer support to others, even if I’ve not experienced their exact hardship. Too often I distanced myself because I felt there were others who had not felt or endured my pain – and sometimes this can be true… but it kept me so distanced, so removed, just like my first reflection, I was in a glass box and I couldn’t relate to the world anymore because I was lost in my own terror, I was petrified.  But you know what, despite our different challenges and life paths, be it adversity, careers, family life etc – we are indeed all different, and by setting that to ‘be ok’ in my mind and my heart, I was able to rejoin and relate to my friends, my family, my community, my life.

We all exist differently… and that’s ok!

___________________________

So what are those five hard truths once more?

  1. Life is a privilege, not an entitlement – no one owes you anything.
  2. Accept what is. Accept what you cannot change. 
  3. Life is not fair and just… AND NEVER WILL BE.
  4. The Little things are the big things.
  5. We all exist differently… and that’s ok!

I hope you enjoyed this 3 part blog series as much as I did reviewing, reflecting and adding to it.  It helped me immensely to revisit these ‘hard truths’ and I’m so glad I did as it’s been brilliant for my mindset and overall balance to re-instill these lessons I’d learnt back into my heart and mind.

Bec x

P.S. If you’d like to keep up to date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

© Copyright 2018 becbraid

 

Hard Truths – Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this blog, you can read it HERE

Hard Truth 2

Dear Diary… 6 August 2014  (After my first chemo)

“I had been building on the mindset with regard to the drugs (chemo)… Poison or cure? The more I thought of poison the more negativity and anger pent up inside me, making me anxious and not ready! Not ready for what??? I want and need to be here, I love and appreciate my life, I need to fight and to do that I NEED chemotherapy!”

*Hard Truth: Accept what is.  Accept what you cannot change. 

[Rise to adversity and maneuver your way through the ‘detour’ until you find a new road].

Save your energy in fighting against what you cannot change.  Accept and adapt to whatever adversity has thrown you off course. I believe before my diagnosis I spent way too much time fighting against things that could not be changed.  I can also tell you first hand, that this causes unnecessary stress and illness.

Reflection 1 (after first cancer):  whilst you need to accept what you cannot change, you also need to give yourself an opportunity to grieve the loss of your life once known.  Change is difficult and I fluctuated between the good fight and the struggled/twisted/painful fight.  I did not learn these lessons instantaneously.  There is a process like anything in life.  I just knew in this instance that I needed to change my mindset – for example: instead of thinking about chemotherapy as poison, it was important that I saw it as my cure.

Reflection 2 (after second cancer): I talk a lot about acceptance (and surrendering) so much so that I have an upcoming blog devoted to this subject alone.  In addition to my initial reflection, similarly to chemotherapy, I had to change my train of thought when it came to losing my breasts in my second fight.  Instead of thinking it’s going to be a massacre to my body, a loss I wasn’t ready for – I needed to see it as a means of necessity and safeguard.  Finding balance with acceptance continues to take me to a place of peace.  If I didn’t accept some of the things that have happened in my life, then I would feel tortured, every-single-day!  Acceptance is not just a word, it’s not just a fleeting statement – for me, it’s a way of life.

Accept what is.  Accept what you cannot change.

 _______________________

Hard Truth 3 

Dear Diary… 7 August 2014  (Day 2 post chemo)

“Laying frustrated, trying to sleep, relaxation music on, face is hot, like I can actually feel my skin drying out each second. Trying my best to drink as much water as possible to flush toxins. My head aches, my eyes are sore and tired but I’m ok in my tummy. I feel weird, waiting for it to really take hold of my body, hoping… praying that maybe I wont get sick?! I just want to sleep but can only manage short spurts. I feel lazy, who lies in bed all day. I know I need rest but I’m not sure how to? I want to get out in fresh air but my body feels heavy, like every little thing feels a little harder to do. My neck is heavy and I just don’t feel light and refreshed but I am ok! I-AM-OK….  I-WILL-BE-OK…. I know I will be.  I-HAVE-TO-BE.”

*Hard Truth: Life is not fair and just… AND NEVER WILL BE.

Reflection 1 (after first cancer): Once I got over the fact that life had become shit really, really quickly, I found this little mantra a basic way for me to re-connect with my fight and become grounded… I would simply say to myself whenever I felt defeated… “I am OK”.  Quite simple really, however, because it is a present tense statement it is more powerful than you think.  I learnt to say this even if the fear of death entered my mind, because even if I was going to die or am going to die (we all are), I am STILL OK right now in this very moment.

Reflection 2 (after second cancer): Tears fill my eyes right now reading that diary entry… I remember it like it was yesterday and that’s why pain fills my heart.  I was frightened beyond belief, my body was failing me and my soul had died a little… I was giving into chemo through the physical effects I was enduring. I was allowing my mind to go down with my body.  Allowing these dreaded drugs to take hold of my emotional power.

I was feeling extremely sorry for myself, and rightly so, this was foreign territory, I didn’t know what to do or think.  I didn’t know if I’d ever feel like myself again.  As we experience more and more of life, we learn that at times, life is simply unfair.  We only have to look around our inner circle or our community, or turn on the news to hear of devastation, disease, pain and misfortune… I had to take ownership and claw back my emotional spirit and my power of choice, why?  Because life is not fair and just… AND IT NEVER WILL BE!!! I could still be living through the sentiment of, ‘life is unfair’, but the reality is, life is not fair for anyone and I didn’t want to drown in a pity party, that shit’s exhausting – and so I didn’t.

Life is not fair and just… AND NEVER WILL BE.

Day 4 (tomorrow) will complete the final Part of ‘Hard Truths’ – Stay tuned.

Love Bec x

P.S. If you’d like to keep up to date with Blogtober, you can do so HERE.

© Copyright 2018 becbraid