Battle Weary but Still Ticking

By Fay Octavia

Shambhala Mountain Center will host the 8th Annual Courageous Women Fearless Living Cancer Retreat, August 19–24

There used to be a Timex watch commercial that said “takes a lickin and keeps on tickin.”  That is what I think about when I think about my friends who have survived the ravages of cancer.

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Photo by Barb Colombo

In meditation this morning as I felt my painful shoulder from carrying the weight of my oxygen tank yesterday, I thought of my friends who have had cancer. I know that is not where you are supposed to think, but somehow meditation is such fertile ground for planting and cultivating a blog post.  Sometimes it just takes over and it seems impossible to return to the breath.

My friend Betsy just had a brain tumor removed a couple of days ago. On a visit to her doctor over a year ago, he said to her, “What are you doing here? You should have been dead two years ago.” I won’t comment on his insensitivity, but on her resilience. When I am with my Courageous Women friends (that I met at the Courageous Women Fearless Living Retreats over the past three years) I think of soldiers returning from war. In the movies they are happy the war is over, but battle scarred, bloody, sometimes missing a limb or more and some barely able to move. Those of us who have survived cancer are often missing a breast or two, can be missing limbs (from bone cancer), struggle to recover from the demonic trio of cut, poison and burn (surgery, chemo and radiation), and may spend the rest of our lives diminished in ways we never imagined we would have to live with.

The scars are not just external. I suspect many of us have something like post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). The financial stress of unbelievable medical bills, the sadness that you may leave your small children or can’t even lift or care for your children, the anguish of being in constant pain or coughing all the time, the hurt of the spouse who leaves because s/he can’t deal with your condition, the children you will never have because the treatments have left you infertile. The list goes on and on each woman facing her own version of the nightmare.

When Betsy wrote that she was going to the Courageous Women Fearless Living retreat again this year, I was reminded how powerful a solution that has been for many of us. I’ve met so many women there who have inspired me and become friends like Betsy. The support keeps on giving in the form of these friendships and the love that develops among the women. While it is painful that some of our friends have fallen in the battle, many more are alive and still tickin. As the Memorial Day holiday has recently past, I salute our fallen warriors but especially I salute the ones that have continued on courageously, if not always fearlessly, living day by day.

Peace, Blessings and Lovingkindness,
Fay Octavia

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Shambhala Mountain Center will host the 8th Annual Courageous Women Fearless Living Cancer Retreat, August 19–24.  To learn more and to register, please click here.

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