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Boldly Saying the “C” Word

inwardOver thirty years ago when my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she talked about it in a whispered code.  I remember saying the full word in front of her one day in the kitchen while we were making lunch together. She gently redirecting my speech by simply telling me she did not like the “C” word.  I respected that it was difficult for her.  She had a strong personality that felt like it steered the direction of our family and to see something knock her off her feet for awhile meant it was a force to be reckoned with.  Her breast cancer didn’t keep her down, though, Mamaw outlived it by nearly two decades.

This summer, I found myself called to the bedside of my friend Patrice.  Patrice had boldly danced through life with cancer for twenty years.  Upon my return from the big road trip I took in April, I went to visit with her.  That began a streak of visits in which I did massage and energy work with her.  She would ask for me to help her with her legs and I found as much as she wanted me close by, I wished to be part of her last glorious days.  Her days were glorious, too.  She partied in the end more than any other person I had know who was on their way out of this life.  She held life by the tail and made sure it knew it was a tiger!

At the beginning of the summer, my cycle had become rather irregular.  I was returning from my trip when my period just lingered on.  I was consulting a naturopathic doctor and would see my gynecologist when I could get an appointment.   Each week I spent time during my meditation workshop exploring some of the issues that floated around what it meant to me be a woman. I looked at creativity, mothering, body issues, power imbalances, safety and vulnerability, objectification of the body, denial of the voice, freedom of movement, sexuality, abundance…..the whole nine yards! This summer has been packed full of personal growth.

Angel Work

Those few days after Patrice passed were very uncomfortable.  I had to stay close to home and became weak with an iron deficiency.  Something had turned a flood gate on, and I knew I needed medical help quickly.  I spent a month with the doctor doing this test and that, looking into options that might help me fix what was causing the crazy, heavy, unending cycle.  Just when we thought we had a plan of action we could all agree on (my gynecologist, naturopath, and me) I got the result back from a test that showed cancerous cells in my uterus.  That was about two weeks ago.

The “C” word.

I spent several hours after the doctor’s call alone at home.  I was shaken for sure.  You hear that word and the mind goes straight to the worst.  But on the fringe of fear I heard good news too.

We caught it early…we think it is contained…. you probably won’t need treatment beyond a hysterectomy.

Gratitude! Somehow I couldn’t help but think Patrice made sure I was taken care of.

Lots of things go through your mind when they give you news like that.  I thought about all the people I personally knew who had created a life with or after the “C” word.  I thought about the strength they had shone, about the way they framed their experience and what they made it mean to them and others in their lives.  Then I made a decision that I would be brave in my vulnerability, I would feel my feelings as fully as I could, process any old wounds that needed attention, celebrate the blessings that come with the journey, and when I could, I would share my personal story so others could support me and so I could help other women understand the beauty, strength, and essence of being a woman. What if this could change my life and the lives of others who needed….who needed….I don’t know.  I just feel like there is a gift in there somewhere.

That last part means claiming the “C” word to a world wide audience.  It is a big decision because in some circles you just don’t talk about your lady parts (yep, there is another “C” word some will never say) but I am bringing that conversation to this circle.  I am going to foster an honest, spirited sharing that doesn’t throw a hand up to make sure no one hears.

Memphis Mississippi

I HAVE CANCER.  Loud and clear.

It won’t define me, but it also isn’t going to be just a blip on the map of my life.  I believe that there is Something Greater working here and the same calling that sat me next to Patrice in her last days to share my gifts…the same calling that has had me build a global community for the last three years just wouldn’t want me to keep the gifts of this journey secret.  To fully share those gifts, I think I must surely have to share the force that ushered them in.

So around here, I am beefing up the self-care, the self-love, and introspection.  I am going to continue to make my way through this life with creativity leading the way (now more than ever actually).  I open my arms to your support, encouraging you not to hurt for me but instead to hold a space of exploration and curiosity about what in the world I am going to transform this unexpected experience into. Be grateful with me, keep me in your prayers if you do that, and in your heart if you will.  For this journey I am grateful.  For this community I am grateful.  With gratitude, I am….

 Creatively yours,

Rachel Payne Life Coach

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41 Comments
  1. What a beautiful, poignant and inspiring post! You are not alone in this journey although it is a solitary one,too! Sending you healing prayers and hugs, my friend

    • Thank you Rose! So funny. I opened an email I get daily yesterday called TruthBombs. They are sort of like fortune cookies. I sent my post out and saw that it popped up in the email…opened it and it said….You are not alone! Super synchronicity!

  2. I love you!!! <3 <3 <3

  3. Thank you for being brave in your vulnerability and saying the C-word out loud. I know your personal journey will touch others. Hell, I know it already has! Know that I love you and will support you in whatever way I can.

  4. You are beautiful and angels are all around you.

    • Bunny….thank you. I can’t tell you how many times you have been with me in the last couple of months whispering eat your veggies as I do all I can to optimize my body’s healing. You are an angel….thank you for the love and support!

  5. WOW!! That was such a powerful piece!! With that attitude, you will take the “C” word and show it who’s boss!! Lots of Love!!

    • Ursula….you are cracking me up. Thank you for being feisty! And for being my dear friend!

  6. You are a brave, creative, and loving lady…in your time of need you still reach out to inspire others. My prayers are with you during your journey.

    • Thank you Suzi! It feels so amazing to have the support of those I respect and adore. I appreciate it!

  7. Your post is beautiful. Thank you for allowing us to hold you in our hearts and support you through this. I remember something you told me the last time I saw you. You said that recently many of those you are meeting with are going through different stages of cancer or cancer treatment.
    I believe It is one of the ways that the universe is showing you support, showing you love, showing you a way, just as you have shown to others. The timing, the connections, the symbols. You are loved.

    • I have thought of this so many times, Atlantis. Yes, I believe the Universe has crafted this path. It is pretty amazing to me. Thank you for your support and for reflecting this part of my story. <3

  8. Rachel,

    What a beautiful post full of love, peace and hope. I actually felt serene reading it! You are amazing and I love that you are exploring what this phase of life means to you instead of only complete fear. You are a strong woman. You are in my heart and my prayers.

    Jill

    • Jill….serene…..I love that! Thank you for your support. I have your card in my studio where I can see it often. It is easy to be strong when I am surrounded by such amazing friends!

  9. Beautifully written, Rachel. I’m so glad you are saying it out loud. I kept much of my journey to myself or restricted it to a small group. I think I missed an opportunity to minister to others through that. Thank you for sharing your journey. xoxo L

    • Thank you, Lori. It is such a personal journey it can be hard to open up to a big audience. I know that your journey has inspired me and many others. I don’t think it is ever too late to share. Your art is doing that already. Everyone has their own unique path….perhaps your ministering isn’t over if it is on your heart. I support you 100% either way!

  10. And as you have claimed your creativity I too will vow to support love you and your creative C venture each and very day.

  11. Rachel ~ You are so brave! I am in awe at how you can take a situation and find the gifts in them, no matter what you are going through. I must also adapt that outlook. Best of luck to you and heal soon! Sending lots of love and prayers your way!!

    • Thank you, Linda! I think I had a lot of grief early on in life and saw that there were good things that came along with the difficulties. Now I look for them. It helps me a lot.

  12. Wrapping you in love, and applauding how you’ve chosen to dance with this Rachel. Courage, curiosity, creativity – you’ve got mountains of them and they’re all ready to be close supportive allies on this journey.

  13. You are so inspiring even in times when most people (including myself) would crumble. I’ve got your back as far as healing energy being sent your way. You are in my thoughts. Hang in there and keep us posted on your journey. With lots of LOVE.
    Teresa

  14. Rachel – You’re in my thoughts and prayers. I can’t imagine the strength and bravery you must have to address this in such a noble way. You’re a sweet spirit full of light and joy and positive moxie and spunkiness. On days when it’s hard and heavy, I pray that someone reminds you of that. I wish you so much good right now.

    • Thank you, Rhonda! I have thought of you often the last two weeks as I decide what my personal vagina monologue will be. 🙂

  15. Love you Rachel! You know all your fellow Loveworkers are holding you in the highest regard!!!! XOXO

  16. May the love I send harness the energy of the entire Pacific ocean it crosses and bring with it powerful healing and transformation. You are a beautiful being and your light and truth shine bright Rachel ♥

    • Thank you, Tracy! That’s a lot of healing. And I will bathe in it with gratitude!

  17. You are in my heart and prayers and I have a little something about ready to pop in the mail for you! xo,
    Kathleen

  18. What an inspiration! Sending positive thoughts your way!

  19. Sending lots of love and healing your way, Rae! Please know that I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, as well as my heart.

  20. Hi Rachel,

    It looks like you’ve got some rich training ground in your experiences with other women who have dealt with cancer in very strong and powerful ways. It is a challenging road, but you can do it!

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