I did. I had a little touch of cancer. And I say “a little touch,” because I know how cancer goes for some people and it didn’t go that way for me.
Of course it was awful in many ways. I received the diagnosis 2 weeks after quitting a cushy federal government job with great benefits and a paycheck that came every two weeks like clockwork. I finally had the courage to go out on my own, making a career out of something I thought would be successful but had never seen done before. I was engaged to be married within the year and had never since turning 18, relied on someone to take care of me financially, physically or emotionally. Cancer is wild, both in theory and in actuality, and it loves to attack the mental, emotional and spiritual body.
It was in this wild ride where the awful parts of a cancer diagnosis became anything but. Instead of killing my body and spirit, it strengthened me in ways I didn’t expect and led me to the work I am now deeply committed to, all days and in all ways.
My only note before I continue writing is this: As with most spiritual awakenings, it can be damn near impossible to describe them simply or in one sitting. My spiritual experience relates back to your spiritual experience (or lack-there-of) and is best told through live, human connection. But we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so sitting around the dinner table with you isn’t going to be an option for a while. That said, if you want to chat more about this, I’d love to hear from you.
Cancer was not so bad for me.
Probably the number one reason cancer wasn’t so bad for me was that it didn’t kill me or even come close. Due to some unknown autoimmune issues that contributed to the problem, my body wasn’t on track to thrive in the coming years. My body seemed healthy but was self-destructing and I had no clue. My cancer shined a spotlight on everything going on internally, and that was one of the many blessings of it all.
The other reason cancer wasn’t so bad was that it taught me I had to lean into all things new and different and do some stuff I never thought I’d have the courage to do. Like relying on someone else for all of my needs. And really slowing down to listen to my body. I took breaks from being in the spotlight, and instead, sat in the shadows. The shadows of my physical home (I spent soooo much time on the couch) as well as my emotional home. I made a habit of doing nothing other than what I really wanted to do that day, a practice I had judged others for.
I was participating in a radical revolution of my very own life. By letting go of everything as I thought I knew it, I, in turn, joyously reclaimed all things true and holy…for me.
The “for me” was the important part.
Cancer freed me from the constraints of other people’s expectations.
I’m a recovering people pleaser and a super social Enneagram 7 with an 8 wing (or the other way around, however you want to look at it), which means I like to do and be a part of everything. I also like to be the boss of all these things, while striving to be really well-liked. I want to be seen as loving and helpful, while simultaneously being the star of all the shows. Socially, it can be complicated.
Cancer made me ask the deeper questions like, who I was outside of these identities and, more importantly, outside of how I was perceived by others? I needed to know what I really wanted out of life. To figure out what I had to let go of and what I had to reclaim, loudly and proudly, in order to heal from the cancer and from the things that led to its arrival in the first place. Being a part of all the fun, doing whatever it took to have a good time and making sure others were having a good time too, were no longer an option if my primary aim was to reclaim my physical, spiritual and emotional health.
Cancer rocked my personal style.
At first it felt like everything was crumbling. All I knew was that I was changing and I couldn’t keep up with how to dress for my evolving identity. In addition, my fiancé and I were down a job and up medical bills, so new clothes to fit my new personality weren’t an option.
Over time, the quiet space and focusing on my health gave me the chance to get to know myself better than ever before. And it felt like life or death to know the truth of who I was.
Learning about myself outside of others expectations had an amazing and positive effect on my personal style. I started ignoring the rules and choosing what to wear without distraction as I slowly let go of society’s expectations of me. I was showing up in the world in new and notable ways through what I wore, letting my outward appearance reflect how I was changing, healing and growing on the inside.
And then my new wardrobe started making YOUR life better.
The courage it took to dress in ways that were authentically good and right for me started inspiring others to find a personal style that was uniquely theirs too.
When I left my government job, my intention was to grow my business as a Therapeutic Image Consultant. I came to this work with enough life experience to believe it was a calling. But without this journey through cancer, I could have easily brought with me outdated beliefs and ideas about both fashion and therapy. I was now shedding those ideas at a rapid rate and learning, first hand, what it was really going to take for my clients to have a courageous transformation of self and style of their own.
As with many things in this life, a personal journey leads to deeper understanding. In my case, coming back to myself by discovering and breaking through stereotypes and narratives about my personal style created an even greater career path than I had imagined. A career I feel deeply, truly meant for. And I’m so excited to keep sharing it with you.
Thanks for hearing my story.
Lots of love,