The long months of breast cancer treatment with their exhausting side effects are a great time to take inventory of how we have been living our lives and how we want to live post treatment. But, thinking and planning are only half of what it takes for a beginning. A beginning isn’t possible without permission.
We are adults. Whose permission do we need? We need our permission. And, giving ourselves permission isn’t always easy. It’s about entitlement. Are we entitled to change course? Do we have the right to do something just for us? What about our obligations to our family our job or any other responsibilities we may have?
We have just come through breast cancer. Family and friends have been there for us. Don’t we need to pay back their kindness and support by picking up our lives where we left off before cancer treatment?
Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t. Breast cancer, any cancer is a life-changing experience. Survivorship is a new place to be and we need to adjust to the concerns, issues and yes freedoms that come with being a survivor.
We find, without planning it, that we covet our time. If we want to waste it, that’s one thing, but we don’t want anyone else to waste our time. We want our time to count. We know that recurrence is always a possibility and we don’t want any regrets if that should occur. There is an urgency to do something meaningful, to make a difference for ourselves and perhaps for others.
A beginning can be dramatic with the start of a new career, a move, a new business. It can be incremental with small but significant changes such as taking a class, traveling or pursing new activities.
Whatever the beginning, it remains an idea, a plan, until you give yourself permission to make it a reality. Permission is an ongoing process. We may need to give ourselves permission many times before making a new beginning a reality. For most of us, breast cancer’s gift is that permission. We feel, maybe for the first time in our lives, that we have the right, that we are entitled, to do life our way.
After my first breast cancer, I gave myself permission to leave a full-time position as director of a nonprofit health care organization. I took a part-time position as a grant writer, which gave me the time to try my hand at writing for publication. The first year was tough. With every rejection notice, I had to; once again, give myself permission to stick with my beginning.