My reflections – 5 years on from breast cancer
By Donna Gianniotis
It has been five years since I underwent treatment for breast cancer. At the age of 33 I was diagnosed with a grade three tumour that had spread to my lymph nodes. At the time I was teaching yoga, meditating and eating what I thought was an all round healthy diet. I also thought I had a full and happy life. I now have five years perspective.
Many who have been through a serious illness or life event, will often say that it is life changing.
This is how my life has changed over the last five years;
- I now choose to go to bed early (around 9pm) on a daily basis as I find that this supports me in having the quality of rest that I need so that I wake up feeling refreshed and can enjoy the day ahead.
- If I am really tired, rather than put on a movie and check-out, I’ll go to bed even earlier and honour myself that I need the extra rest.
- I live moment to moment with my awareness being with my body as opposed to just thinking (with my awareness just being in the mental energy). I try not to indulge too much in unnecessary thoughts that do not serve me, instead I choose to connect and feel my body and listen to what it is telling me.
- I choose to be gentle and tender in my actions as this feels lovely in my body. It allows for a deeper connection with myself. If, for example, I’m disconnected (that is my mind is elsewhere to my body) and I slam a door, it now feels awful in my body, therefore the choice to be present becomes easier.
- I use a gentle breath as a reference point to come back to me. If I find that I’m not breathing gently, I know that I have disconnected from me. I take the time to pause for a moment, to re-connect.
- I no longer do things to “keep peace” with others.
- I express openly as to how I am feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, I let the person know – without holding back.
- When emotions come up – rather than suppressing them, I allow myself to feel them. If I haven’t recognised them in the moment, I’ll take some time out to feel what is there is to be felt, no matter how unpleasant it is. I know that by doing this, that I’m not suppressing these emotions in my body and it allows them to clear.
- I am aware of the choices that I make knowing that it will have a consequence on my body and mind. For example, if I choose to indulge in a food such as sugar, I know that I will feel racy and it will be more difficult for me to be present with the loveliness and tenderness of who I really am.
- I no longer drink alcohol, eat sugar, dairy or gluten or have caffeine – as these foods and drink do not support my body. They were foods/drink that I had for comfort, so as to not to feel what was truly going on for me or as “special treat” to escape feeling me.
- I no longer live life looking forward to special “moments” such as an event or even a piece of chocolate to feel life as exciting. Every moment is an opportunity to be present with myself and therefore “feels enough”.
- I no longer exercise (or practise yoga) in hardness. The way I exercise (and teach yoga) is that it is first of all about establishing the connection with my body and then listening to how my body would like to exercise in that moment. I no longer push my body beyond its limits. I listen and cultivate a gentle breath and use this as a guide to assist me in staying connected to me.
- I listen to the call of my body in any given moment. As an example I may take a rest, a short pause within my day to reconnect to my body – rather than push through to get my “to do” list done.
- I have been able to let go of some of the ideals and belief systems around what being a woman is, such as having to look or be a certain way. I am now inspired by women who are truly living in tenderness and with a felt sense of love in their bodies, rather than by the role models that I was presented with in the magazines as I grew up.
- Work is not about working hard to achieve something or to get somewhere. This is yet another ideal and belief that I held. Work is about bringing all of me to what it is that I do, no matter what it is. If I am doing this in connection, it then allows others to re-connect with themselves. Work then no longer is just about “me” and what “I can achieve”. It is about being in relationship with everyone and everything.
What I have learnt is that for me the underlying cause of breast cancer was lack of self-nurturing.
Having learnt to build a more loving relationship with my body, I now understand that how I live and the choices that I make have a direct impact on my body and how I feel. What I have listed above are steps that I have and continue to take to build the gentleness, tenderness and love in my body. I certainly haven’t mastered them as yet, but each day is another opportunity to bring more awareness in how I am with myself.
Making the above choices has exposed the hardness, the disconnection and lack of self-nurturing that I had pre breast cancer. This was there in my body to be felt, which has not been fun at times. However, as I have connected back to my true essence – how do I feel five years on from breast cancer?
I am feeling more and more of what it felt like when I was really little. I feel like a joyful girl, who feels the beauty that is inside her and that which surrounds her.
Donna Gianniotis teaches Yoga and offers Esoteric Healing, Meditation, Connective Tissue Therapy and Cancer support sessions. Each day she is inspired by the teachings from Universal Medicine and Esoteric Women’s Health.
You may also enjoy reading my full story My Unfolding Path of Understanding the Root Cause of Breast Cancer.