Cancer Replaced an Ugly Lie With a Beautiful Truth

There are some moments in my cancer journey that left indelible marks on my soul. Having grown up in an abusive home, I had years of internal struggles coming to peace with my body. When I received my diagnosis of breast cancer, I knew that the parts of my body that had suffered abuse as a child could now cause my death. I couldn’t let my brain stay there, but I did have some thoughts in that vein. Especially when one of my friends asked me if I thought my husband would leave me if I lost my breasts. I rolled my eyes at how dumb I thought that comment was.

My illness forced us to return to our home area after living in another state for five years. We were seeing people who had not seen our children in five years. People often commented on how beautiful our girls were. They all had long dark hair and beautiful smiles. Our oldest was 12 when we left and 17 when we returned. The one common and constant thing I was hearing about her was how she looked just like me. It didn’t sink in for this always-self-image-challenged woman, until one day while I was folding laundry. It had been a particularly difficult day and God must have known I needed this.

As I was folding laundry, this thought hit me out of the blue. If they say she is beautiful, and she looks just like me, then I can’t be ugly, because she isn’t ugly. It took folding several more towels before I could process what that thought meant.

All my life, hearing I was ugly, made me deep down believe it. But I knew in my heart what people were saying about all our daughters was true. When I talked this out with a close friend that afternoon, she looked at me with tears rolling down her face. I said, “So this means all the people who told me I was ugly, weren’t telling the truth?” She told me, “Yes, that means they were not telling the truth and you didn’t deserve that.”

I am so thankful cancer gave me the opportunity to unearth a lie I had believed and replace it with a truth. It is a terrible thing when people crush our spirits and can be hard to overcome.

For me, none of this is about how I do or don’t look. It is about finding some healing from the damage done to me as a child. It is about learning to be ok no matter how my body looks. It is about realizing that even in difficult times if we are open to it, we can find positive moments to hold onto.

I believe we are all created with a purpose and walking for that purpose is the most beautiful thing. I know my purpose is in part to share that healing from childhood trauma is possible. Cancer was part of that journey and while I never wanted to have cancer, and hate it, I can appreciate this aspect of it. Cancer is a terrible disease that affects way too many people. But even in its awfulness, there can be good moments along the way.

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