Getting on the ‘C Train’: A Resilient Thriver Takes the Ride of Her Life, Part II
This is Part II of an interview with Ondreah Johnson, RN, a resilient thriver who is currently in treatment for breast cancer. You can read Part I here.
What have the challenges and rewards been?
Challenges — being able to ask for what I want, knowing what I want, being ready for yes or no responses. Really being available to listen to myself and allowing myself to ask for what I needed. Before my hip surgery I had this ‘need’ initially thinking that I had to have everything in place before the surgery because I couldn’t, wouldn’t be able to do much afterwards. And then knowing I couldn’t possibly get everything done before the surgery, and I would have to let others take care of things (like shopping, cleaning, preparing my rooms, having the tv, the internet, the room for another available, the bills paid, figuring out how to get my pay deposited, and so much more. Somehow, somewhere in me is this belief that I had to have it all together before surgery. This showed me so much about what I ‘learned from the family and even society’ that we/I, a woman, [it’s] not enough just to be ready for surgery that somehow, I was supposed to BE it all, do it all and get it all done… what a crock of shit.
Another rich mine field is the letting go and being ok with whatever is not done… or not done my way… no matter how many times I thought I was ‘good ‘ with whatever someone did. I could find a way. I limited my receiving the time, the support, the gift, the love! The process of preparing for the hip surgery and then finding myself thrust into diagnosis and then treatments for cancer moved me into a deeper awareness of where I do not, have not, seem to not be able to, let love in! Sure, I could talk about it, share it, open to it, be aware of it, this letting love in… And still in some way I was not opening to love, not really. How could someone say cancer brings Love to someone? How can trauma? Drama? Chaos? Vulnerability? Bring love to us? I am left to ponder this every day now.
When I returned to my hospital room after hip surgery I was greeted by the smiles and loving energy of my friends awaiting me, they had prepared my room just like I had asked, my soft purple blanket awaiting me, music playing softly, a chant, xmas lights twinkling in my room, aroma therapy clearing the energy of the room. A safe place, a sanctuary ready for me, created by friends and hearts that love and care for me, just because.
When I went for IV treatments (what I call receiving chemo therapy treatment) my sister rearranged her week so she could take me, especially those first two months, those treatments were the hardest. My sister and I are very different, I came to recognize how separate I felt from my sister and even my family, everyone in life, this C train sure takes one on a ride — spiritual, emotional, mental, physical. A reward? Most definitely, this to seeing how I have not been available to let love in. This journey has ripped so much away, stripping me of layers that I had ‘thought’ I had already uncovered. These traumas in one’s life bring an offering of nakedly stripping us of old beliefs and thinking. Each car on the train another thread, another layer revealed, another place to seek understanding of myself, of another, of where I was, of what was going on for me, in me.
How have your spiritual practices been a factor?
My spiritual practices [are] grounded in Heart Rhythm Meditation, breath work with my heart beat. I came to know more about me and what moves me. Ritual has always been something I’ve been drawn to and during this journey it became even more so. I found a focus within myself especially when treatments were intense. My rituals included pictures of my spiritual teachers, music, essential oils, several prayers said before every treatment, hand holding with my friends and sister who were with me, crystals laid out, the prayers especially powerful, as I offered the prayers to the treatment and to the Highest. It really wasn’t until after so much had passed that I can now look back and am more aware of the letting go that also took place during those treatments, feeling my body, feeling the meds running in, listening, singing the chants that soothed my heart, breathing deeply with my heart beat, there is a slowing down that seems to happen EVEN while things speed up.