Developing My Inside World

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Health and Fitness  |  House: Booksie Classic

An uplifting healing journey of a breast cancer survivor ...

The saying “Every cloud has a silver lining” never meant much to me until I was submerged in feelings of helplessness after a breast cancer diagnosis in October of 2020. Dealing with an unprecedented pandemic was hard enough; getting a cancer diagnosis when the pandemic was still in full swing was heart-wrenching.

On an October evening, I was on the way to a park with my husband and my son when I received a call from the radiologist who had performed my biopsy. Her question “Is this a good time to talk?” and her soft tone suggested bad news. My heart wrenched when she confirmed my fears. That meant a U-turn for us – back home, no more park. My nine-year-old son was perplexed and upset about the last-minute cancellation. A few minutes later, I became mentally weak and powerless. I couldn’t stay positive anymore or regain my inner calm. I had been thrown into a profound fear of what life would bring for our family.

I had always associated cancer with death. Therefore, I started to fear dying. For the next two weeks, I was drowning in a sea of sadness. I was riding a rollercoaster of emotions. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to watch my son grow up. I wouldn’t be able to go to his graduation or his wedding. But how could I defuse this fear? I’d heard people say that birth and death are part of life, so I asked myself, why should I be afraid of death? And what would be the best way to prepare for whatever would happen to me? I found that a lot of things in my life had suddenly become unimportant. Through a myriad of challenges, I had completed a master’s degree just three days before I received my diagnosis. I’d felt a brief joy over my accomplishment, and I’d hoped it would help me advance my career. Now, I wondered, what was this diploma good for when I was dealing with a cancer diagnosis?

Thanks to my husband for his support and unique calmness, I was able to cope with the long healing process, both physically and mentally. Dashing from one medical appointment to another in the middle of the pandemic would not have been possible without the full support I got from him and my good little boy, who attended his virtual classes from the car while I was in the hospital receiving treatments. My family in Burma, friends and colleagues helped me find strength in each new day with virtual hugs, phone calls, text messages, and beautiful flowers and cards. I underwent surgery in November, and I received all the recommended radiation treatments in December of 2020. That might sound like a quick fix, but a diagnosis like this always brings a mental hurdle: how to stay positive after the medical treatments.

In addition to the strict diet and exercise regimen I was on, I joined a weekly virtual support group of four amazing women with similar diagnoses. This group had changed me into a completely different person. Our mentor, a nurse and yoga teacher, was one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. Through our mindful meditation and yoga sessions, she helped me stay positive, focus on the present moment, and see my inside world better. Meditation definitely set me on a different life path. Through the books she recommended, I also learned a new way of life after cancer. Slowly, I realized that the word “cancer” is no longer synonymous with death, though it may still lie in its shadow. In short, I managed to bring my spirits back! In fact, I established a new, better rapport with my body, my mind, and my life. I also learned to lower some of the standards I had set. It’s ok when my son submits his homework a day late. It’s ok for the dirty dishes to stay in the basin for another two hours. It’s ok when my cat has an accident on the floor.

My hope is that this part of my life journey and healing experience can serve as a reminder that we human beings are vulnerable, but that we must stay strong amid our endless struggles: the ongoing pandemic, political upheaval, and unexpected health problems. 2020 was a strange and tough year, but it was an eye-opening year for everyone, and we can still feel its effects today. No matter what challenges we face or what we are given in life, we must accept both the good and the bad with a calm mind and equanimity. We must get in touch with the present moment and reflect on what is most important to us. Is it meditation, family time, or self-care? What do we value? We can have more money, but for what? The present situation should remind us that it’s time to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the chirping of the birds and our time with our friends, and to put our differences aside.

It’s time to learn to know ourselves, and to develop the world inside us. Speaking from my own experience, meditation helped me heal the wounds of the past. It helped me transform the way I live with my family and the people around me. It has given me a sense of direction that I didn’t have before; I can listen to my inner self more compassionately now. It gave me freedom from feeling down, and it helped me face life’s ups and downs with ease. I know that I will be able to handle stress better than before my diagnosis. I am more resilient now, and more aware of my emotions and feelings. So, I always remind myself that no matter how bad a situation might seem, there is always some good aspect to it: Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes.

Wishing everyone good health and a lot of happiness in the years ahead …

With love,

Aye Aye Than


Submitted: October 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Aye Aye Than. All rights reserved.

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