I just passed the one-year anniversary of my mastectomy (May 7) and my breast reconstruction (July 9.) I used to think that anniversaries were for Hallmark cards, and that they really didn’t matter. But after losing my brother and some close friends, and re-experiencing grief on the anniversaries of their passing, I realized that the body tracks anniversaries, whether or not the mind does.
In April I noticed a new lump in my right armpit where the lymph nodes were removed. It was painful and my surgeon suspected it was a recurrence of cancer because it was quite hard. She ordered a biopsy, which, interestingly enough, was scheduled for May 7, the anniversary of my mastectomy. Prior to the biopsy I went into a world of fear, imagining that I had cancer again and that the pain in my right upper abdomen was cancer in my liver. When the pathologist inserted the biopsy needle I felt a surge of pain run along my upper back. She was unable to get a sample, but felt like the degree of pain I experienced likely indicated that it was a neuroma, a harmless nerve tumor created as a response to the trauma of surgery. I decided to accept this theory, as the alternative was to have the nodule surgically removed, and I didn’t want to cause any more trauma to this part of my body.
The day before the biopsy I was in the ocean, and I looked up at the bright sun and asked the universe for the gift of life. I wanted to emerge from this cloud of cancer fear and live my life with joy. After the biopsy, I experienced a wash of relief and went to the Yosemite foothills to spend time with my boyfriend and relish the warm weather, the summer berries, and the gift of life.
Then again, two weeks ago, before the anniversary of the mastectomy, I experienced a great deal of pain around the nodule and the right side of my chest and ribs. This time I knew that it was anniversary pain, and that it would be better after the anniversary passed in early July. Luckily, I was able to get body work from Joan Marie Passalacqua, http://www.appliedanatomyinstitute.com/, and she worked on healing the residual trauma from surgery. Joan Marie has been working on me since my cancer, and has helped me experience incredible freedom of movement – she is a gifted hands-on healer. Additionally, I took the homeopathic remedy Hypericum, which is for nerve pain and trauma, and low and behold, the swollen nodule shrunk and the pain disappeared. I might also add that the pain disappeared around the date of the anniversary of the reconstructive surgery.
What to take away?
Anniversaries can hold deep meaning – observe them when they ask to be observed.
Trauma can live in the body even when the mind has forgotten it, or never consciously experienced it. Be compassionately with this trauma so that it can release and dissolve.
Love to you all.