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Beneath the Petals

When you think about a flower in bloom, its beauty, fresh scent and new life come to mind. It all appears to be so perfect… At no point do you stop and focus on a broken branch or torn leaf – or even the dirt that nourished this beautiful bloom. That’s why, when reflecting on my journey with breast cancer, the words, “beneath the petals” came to mind.

I had an extremely difficult time talking about what was going on in my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I never imagined anything would be so tough to discuss. People would see the outside of me and think that everything was just fine, when beneath the petals I was scared to death – and didn’t know how to process everything that I was feeling or what would happen next. As a writer, it has always been healing to open up by taking words to paper. So I decided to start this blog to share my story of a journey that I had no choice but to take.

Although this is way out of my comfort zone to open up and let people in, if my story saves even one life, then my blog will have served its purpose as I use it to share my experience, heal and move forward.

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m extremely private with what goes on in my personal life, but on December 19, 2012 I received some news that rocked my entire world. I was diagnosed with breast cancer… (For awhile I couldn’t even say those words). On that day, I couldn’t deal with it myself, let alone share it with the world. (Baby steps).

Here’s what happened: the doctor who had given me a mammogram and a biopsy as a precaution was calling me with results. At that moment I thought back to a call I received when I was sitting at the doctor’s office waiting to get the biopsy. It was one of my closest friends and I told him where I was. He said, “Whatever happens. It’s going to be okay.” Then it was two days later and ‘whatever happens’ was happening.

When the doctor’s voice on the other end of the call said who she was, I had no worries. She sounded as if everything was okay. She calmly said, “We got your results from the biopsy and it was cancerous.” I stopped breathing. Time stood still as I let the words sink in. The people closest to me know that I don’t immediately react to things that are painful. The more difficult it is to digest, the longer it takes me to react – so you can only imagine how long this took. I kept waiting for her to say something else, as if there were anything else to say. I was hoping for just a brief moment that it was some kind of mistake.

My thoughts were all over the place. First to my sister, who is just one year older, and had just gotten a mammogram a few weeks earlier. Her results came back fine. Mine was supposed to be a routine visit too. Then I thought, “Wait, they just calmly tell you this over the phone? Why is she so calmSo my response (in my I can handle this voice) was, “Okay, what’s next?” Then in her calm, monotone manner, the doctor said, “I need you to come to my office tomorrow. Will that work for you?” How could it not work for me? And how can any of this work for me? Was this a trick question? Finally and reluctantly, I replied, “Of course,” then ended the call as if it never happened. I just wasn’t ready.

I shared the news with no one. My life went according to my plan for the rest of that day.  The news was put out of my mind.

Eventually, I called my sister, the only person I could bring myself to tell. As soon as I started talking, I began to cry. At that moment, I grew really scared  and felt helpless. After telling her the news, she calmly took control (as usual) and said, “It’s going to be okay.”

I knew at some point I had to find a way to deal with this emotionally and I couldn’t go on acting as if nothing was happening to me. I couldn’t control what was going on inside of my body and the emotional roller coaster this journey was taking me on, so I tried to deal with it by not dealing with it. I even ran and took the kids on a trip to Disney World.

I realized I was keeping too much bottled up inside when I would have emotional breakdowns out of nowhere. So I knew I had to deal with this head-on. It was then that I decided since I couldn’t talk about it, I would sit down and write about it by creating my blog Beneath the Petals. I learned how to use writing as a way to escape many years ago.  It allows me to go into a world of my own where there are no rules and the pressures of everyday life cease to exist while I am immersed in my writing.

In my blog, I had control of my words and I could escape. When I would seclude myself and sit to write about my breast cancer journey it would help me to let go and open up about what I was feeling so I could deal with things emotionally.

The blog is raw and simply the truth. It’s funny at times and sad at others. I laughed out loud and shed tears throughout the process of writing it. And each post was a process. It wasn’t easy but it felt good to face what I was dealing with.

Writing about this experience has been freeing and I always feel like a load is lifted when I pour my words onto the page. The many words of encouragement and support keeps me going. To date, my blog has had almost 15K views and it makes me hopeful that some of those views have saved someone’s life. I encourage you to write because you never know whose life you will change with your words.  If you’re interested in reading about my journey on my blog please visit www.beneaththepetals.blogspot.com.

Tracy Nicole, Ford Warriors in Pink/Model of Courage