#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.
The Story of My Survival | One Step At A Time
Sitting in the clinic of my surgeon, waiting for my final diagnosis after my tumor was removed. The room was quiet, his hands clasped in front of him, one thumb rubbing the back of the other's knuckle.
He asked me first if I went to his clinic with a company and I replied to him that I was alone.
He sat in silence for a moment; no other noise covered the ambient, electric buzz of the computer on the desk in front of him, as if nothing to distract me as I waited for the results of my final biopsy.
"You have cancer."
I tried to hold back the tears, to keep myself strong, to smile, as those same words echoed in my mind, "You have cancer," until the first tear slid quietly down my face.
I never would have thought those three little words could carry enough weight to break me.
You Have Cancer
You have cancer.
Those three nagging words that suddenly made my world stops spinning.
It's been 3 years since I found out the bump that had been growing on my skin for 8 months was actually a tumor.
My surgical removal procedure was successful and completed my 35 radiation session's treatment.
When cancer thought it can take everything from me including my life, but cancer was all wrong. It has not taken everything from me. In fact, it made me much stronger and brave to face life obstacles along the way. Perhaps, I can say that cancer is preparing me to be the toughest person I ever knew in my entire life.
Yes, cancer is such a nasty beast. However, I am somehow thankful with it. It may sound hilarious for some readers but cancer brings the most authentic self that I could ever be.
The journey was hard, but the only choice I had was to keep myself stuck and not accepting that I had cancer or move forward with cancer. I chose the last part.
For a survivor, grief is a good start to start moving on. Every cancer warrior's emotion is real and valid, whether it is irrational or not, it is demanded to be felt. Afterwards, we must learn to let go and move forward.
One Step At A Time
I got this phrase from my favorite childhood song with the same title, “One Step at a Time,” sung by a singing songbook, Psalty.
The chorus of this song goes like this:
“When something seems too hard to handle Too big to conquer, too far away to touch, When all your dreams begin to shatter, And deep inside you you're hurting, oh, so much, That's when it's time to say I'm climbing my mountain step by step I'm climbing my mountain day by day I'm climbing my mountain all the way I'm climbing my mountain, I'm gonna make it!”
Facing cancer is a long and complicated journey - but I face it with courage, one step a time.
Until such time, I reached on a phase and ask myself, “How did I win a victory over this?”
I Speak Shame
I could not think of anyone who could be the most inspiring story teller of all times but only Brene Brown.
From her, I was able to learn to reclaim my courage and move forward to freedom by opening my heart; instead allowing shame and live a life full of fear, blame and disconnection.
If you may ask how I did this?
I reach out and tell my story through my blog or speaking opportunities in the community of Saigon, Vietnam. And I speak shame. Speaking shame is so important as its survival depends on ongoing undetected (i.e. through secrecy & silence). On the other hand, if we recognize and understand our triggers, practice critical awareness and reach out to others, we can grow our resilience as we practice communicating about our shame with our most-trusted advisors who use their own compassion and courage while listening and supporting us.
I speak shame by sharing my traumatic experiences. I share my cancer journey, PTSD and my separation from the most important human beings in my life – which are my kids. I am always proud to share to everyone that once I have two beautiful and wonderful kids but I don’t always share this all the time as they are not in my present moment. In the past, they were with me, but now, I have to accept a life that maybe, they could not be with me now, not now.
I speak shame by talking about my scars and not being ashamed of showing my scars. I speak shame to encourage everyone to take care of their body by telling them not to hate it no matter how imperfect there body is.
As a cancer survivor, sharing stories to other people or peer survivors may take a lot of courage but if we start doing this, it feels so liberating and could somehow heal ourselves!
If you would like to connect with Cielo on Instagram, just click here.