What I Learned in the Eye of the Storm

By Guest Blogger   |  16Comments|

By Emme

I, like many of you, have been to the belly of the beast and have made it back to share a tale or two… all I have to say is thank you God for getting me to this day and enabling me to share my journey!

I am a lymphatic cancer survivor, the mother of my energetic beautiful daughter, recently divorced and dating, selling my home of 20 years, and leaping into the world of fundraising for the Body Image Council, a not-for-profit program I founded for the National Eating Disorders Association. I am, without a doubt, a survivor with gusto!

“Why are you so driven?” you may ask. Quite frankly, I am because I am alive. I am because my mother is not here and was not given the chance to be (she had her own bout with bone cancer back in the late ‘70s). I am because as my daughter’s role model, I need to show her that having cancer is not a death sentence. I am because I am happy to do it all. Bring it on!

Knowing what I know now, and in honor of both my daughter and my mom, I embrace my hectic life and strive to infuse quality into all that I do—in fact, I require it in all aspects of my life. Quality counts in all things: personal choices, professional choices, spiritual practice, and even decisions regarding those with whom I share my time. This time around, it all matters.

Needless to say, since having conquered cancer, life and its meaning have changed. Thankfully, the big “C” forced me to take inventory and gave me the opportunity to do things a bit differently. Now I require a regular meditation and yoga practice, something I scoffed at in the past. I feel off-kilter if my homemade kale and spinach soup is not sitting on my stove ready to eat with a cup of rice. Unnecessary noise in the house has been reduced to a minimum. Quiet time, periods of solitude and peaceful music (iTunes, radio, ambiance, birdsong; Maxwell, Joss Stone and other grooves) are common in my world now.

In my love life, I must admit, a great romp is breathtaking. But I have made the decision to forgo the quick fix for quality: a man and partner who loves sex as much as I do, professes his love for me in innumerable ways, wants to protect me and my daughter, and doesn’t have a problem with picking up the tab (rather than waiting for me to do so). I’m certain he’s out there; it is just a matter of time! Seriously, it all boils down to quality.

I learned a lesson quite humorously after my final treatment two years ago. My frame of mind at the time was, “Okay, done that, NEXT!” And I mistakenly told myself that I could now get back to my life as it was pre-cancer. Not! I had been warned not to fool myself into believing this, as it could cause irreparable harm, but I have never been one to listen very well unless burned of my own hand. So there I was, my body just shut down and I was hit with the most inexhaustible feeling that the world was closing in on me—and I literally couldn’t move. I was in the eye of my personal storm, so to speak. No can go. Stop.

I had to acknowledge that life had changed, and that I had changed, forever. In fact it was necessary that I embrace the change. Since the pain of not changing was harder than the change itself, I ultimately allowed it to wash over me. I had to slow down and gracefully honor the life before me; to respect what had taken place; and to love myself enough to take good care of both myself and my incredible daughter, who will need me for decades to come. It is incredibly powerful to show my little woman-in-the-making how to demand the best of yourself and of those around you. This had become the only possible path for me, the new me: from the woman who was birthed the moment I heard the words “you have cancer” to the woman I became on my last day of treatment. That woman, with you here, is me; and much, much more so than before—as Mary J. Blige says, with “no more drama.”

Emme is a cancer survivor, supermodel, television personality, author, lecturer, clothing designer, and nationally recognized women’s advocate for positive body image and self-esteem with a clear mission: to awaken the inner magnificence inherent in each of us. She is also a mother, sister, aunt, and friend. For more information, visit www.EmmeStyle.com and www.bodyimagecouncil.org.

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16 responses to What I Learned in the Eye of the Storm
  1. I love the inspiration woven through this story. The eye of the storm, indeed! Ahh, but yoga, meditation, nourishing food, good music, family, friends, quiet time and “no more drama” are all steps in the path to healing and thriving. Thank you for sharing your story, Emme. Beautiful!

  2. As someone who is going through her own personal storm after breast cancer surgery and radiation, Emme’s story helps me realize I’m on the right path. Thank you, Emme!

  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing. I have never had cancer, but I related to this tremendously. Recently, I went through some catastrophic change, and I have been beating myself up for not being able to go back to how I used to be. I kept saying, “I just want a time machine. I want me back.” Thanks to a friend yesterday and your post today I am seeing more and more that maybe I was being redirected by the change… maybe I’m supposed to evolve into something new… and looking back is what is holding me back… hm… like going with the flow of life…

    Thanks :)

    PS- You will find that quality guy… it really is just a matter of time.

  4. Emme, what a great post that so many of us canser survivors can relate to. It’s interesting how we all go through the same process at the end of treatments believing that life will continue from where we had left off. It took me a while to embrace the change myself.
    Keep it up Emme, what a great role model you are to so many! xoxo

  5. Indu said on May 11, 2010

    Thank you Emme!! Embrace the change!! Perfect timing too.

    Your amazing.

    More power to you :)


  6. It’s always great to hear from someone who is on the other side of the big C! While you’re in the eye of the storm it’s hard to imagine a “normal” life and it always seems to come when you need it the very most.

    Hanging in limbo, waiting of approvals, insurance, a donor match, if you let can almost drive you a little batty. It a daily battle to stay on top of things.

    Good Luck with all of your new endeavors!
    Tricia from TExas

  7. Emme – what a beautiful post! It reminded me of a quote that helped me during a time of need (don’t know who to attribute it)

    “Change is what happens when the pain of holding on is greater than the fear of letting go”

    Peace & Love!

  8. With the highs of surviving breast cancer come lows.I think that its the body and mind reminding us of what we have been through and to STOP!Emme, this morning at this time I needed to read what you wrote. Thank you.

  9. Truer words were never spoken! It’s almost a shame that there are some who will never know the redeeming gift cancer can be. We don’t ask for it, but God deems us worthy of it. Trial by fire is a gross understatement, but I am grateful for its lessons…it made me a better person.

    Thank you Emme!

  10. Emme, I too have lympatic cancer…could we connect to chat about this.

  11. Emme,what an nspiring story! Thank you for sharing! And all the best in finding a quality man, I know you will!

  12. Emme, you are courages and inspiring. I, too have just been declared on “remission” and a survivor of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. To me, it is God’s answer to many prayers. He is awesome and I thank for the second chance of life. thank you for sharing your journey.

  13. I am a BC survivor who read your post with happiness. I have changed as a result of my dating BC (we eventually broke up and I don’t expect to see BC again!). What gives me faith in my new life is that for a while I felt like I was foraging into my own wilderness; but it turns out my path led me to, yep, meditation, yoga, groovy music (Snatam Kaur!)and more love for life. The journey felt lonely but now I am dancing with travelers from all over the world who are here too. Like you Emme. Thanks for the companionship.

  14. I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this story right here right now. I am two years cancer free and I feel exactly as you feel. I thought I would just go back to the me before cancer but really that is not possible or a good idea. I need to raise my daughter and that is my greatest focus but I also need to be true to the blessings that were shown to me during the cancer treatment. I have struggled with moving on without forgeting. It is a strange balance thank you for your wise words they comfort me tonight!

  15. Emme, what a nice dose of inspiration.

  16. Your comments are such blessings. Thank you for your kind words and Living Live to Its Fullest…