shed your skin

By Deb Baer Becker
Woman Newspapers

I’ve reached my seventh year of cancer survivorship. I feel I’ve walked the long road and reached the summit. I’m Cured.

Seven years have passed since my doctor said, you have a bad cancer, words that felt like a punch, words that left me wounded.

I still remember that day, and my doctor’s cramped consultation room, the black plastic chair that held me. I didn’t believe I would survive a year. I took her words bad cancer like two pills, and they began their dark medicine in me.

What I know now is survivorship starts at the point of diagnosis. If you can find your legs to rise up, grab your purse and keys, and steer your way home to the loves of your life, you’re a warrior, a champion. You’ve already won.

Words have power, yes, but the words we tell ourselves have the greatest authority. Our inner words profoundly affect our mind, body, and spirit. The right words can save your life.

We wear our words like skin.

Every morning, I look in the mirror, into my dear old face, and say, I am healthy. I am strong. I am cured. These true words spoken day-after-day built healing and resilience and
faith, layer upon layer, over my whole being. My intention covers me.

I’ve had to stretch my faith and grow my spirit and change my words, yes, and shed old beliefs, in order to truly own my cure. I’ve acknowledged my higher power, Momma God, a benevolent force at work in my favor.

I can no longer believe that my life and everything beautiful and horrific in the world is just some random accident.

Transformation involves discovering thoughts and beliefs that we hold on to which are actually holding us back.

For instance, I’ve always professed a belief that “the other shoe will fall,” a theory of nonsense. I believed that if I was happy, if things were going really well for me, if I’d found a wellspring of joy, something bad was about to happen, trouble was riding into town. This was my faulty wish to save myself from suffering, to always stay vigilant. I put a curse on
every blessing.

I was guarding my heart.

How I could hold on so tightly to such a joy-sucking belief is another conundrum. Especially when you factor in my love of shoes!

Life is suffering and joy. These two forces sit side-by-side to create grace.

Grace says, “Every broken heart is an open heart.”

So, I wrote Cancer a letter:
Dear Cancer,
Hey, it’s over between us. I’m filled with the daisies of life, and you’re
stagnating stench. My butterfly joy outshines your skulking shadow.
I’ve kicked your saggy butt. Shoo!

Time really does heal wounds. Across seven years, I’ve transformed from worrier to warrior. I have won. My intentions cover me; these true words, I am healthy. I am strong. I am cured. That’s the skin I’m in.

I’d like to dedicate this column to my dear and fabulous friend, Vickie. She’s begun her journey on the long road to the summit named Cured. I wish her love and joy and peace.