Navigating Breast Cancer
On June 8th I received THE PHONE CALL none of us wants to get. I’d been waiting for biopsy results and still I found it hard to take a deep breath when my doctor said the words: “Breast Cancer.” Oh my. She followed with words about how my summer schedule would now be different—appointments, surgery, treatments. I sat stunned, shocked, trying to absorb her words.
The next day I began to journal, realizing that I wanted to navigate my unexpected cancer journey with intentionality and choice. I wrote these 10 cancer commandments or guideposts as reminders of what I wanted to be and/or do as the going gets tough. I’ve memorized all 10 since I recorded a voice memo to play them frequently throughout the day.
It’s been amazing to hold on to these guideposts--sometimes by my fingernails. If voice memos could wear out mine would be garbled or erased by now. But they're still going strong and reminding me of the path I chose to see me through this journey.
1. Be present and feel all the feels. 2. Talk with Jesus all the live long day. 3. Show up authentically all ways and always. 4. Let my people be who they are. 5. Remember reciprocity. 6. Be Mama Bear only to myself. 7. Learn names and receive stories. 8. Knowledge is power. Ask all questions. 9. Dance and sing every day, externally or internally. 10. Choose joy and gratitude every day.
Don’t let the word “commandments” fool you—these 10 mantras don’t pressure or guilt-trip me in any way. They’re not a list of “should’s,” because I steer clear of any should’s. And if I don’t do one or more of these in a day I don’t fret or kick myself.
These 10 statements are my YES/and ways of living—my ways of being and doing daily life. I believe in these, and when I live them I’m healthy and I’m loving well. When I wander away from these (and of course I do), I slip back into ego and an unhealthy perspective that keeps me numb and stalled.
My Breast Cancer diagnosis prompted these, but you don’t need that "C" word to motivate you. What if you try these steps that I took to write my 10:
First, journal around your 10 priority values, your basic beliefs and the top 10 ways you want to live your days. Consider any of your favorite mantras or quotes, the ones that you love and resonate with the most. NOTE - It’s ok to be somewhat idealistic and aspirational, while still checking yourself to be sure you’re in the realm of what’s actually possible.
Now shorten each of your 10 statements so they’re easy to memorize.
Next, record all 10 in a voice memo on your phone. Play your voice memo multiple times/day, at least until you’ve memorized them. Notice any that are grabbing your attention in that moment. Maybe that one or more statements are calling to you because you’re needing that action or focus for whatever you're experiencing that day.
I'd love to hear what you discover as your 10 commandments or guideposts.
NOTE - I offer a 2-hour coaching session that will walk you through the process of writing your own 10 Commandments/Guideposts for living. Contact me for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.