What I Learned in the Eye of the Storm
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.