How an aggressive cancer unleashed my inner hero
By Jessica de la Morena (Spain)
Imagine that one day you are driving to a routine doctor checkup in your car, with the window down, long hair blowing, listening to the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on My Side,” humming along, and thinking about what you are going to make for dinner for your kids.
Imagine that during that appointment your doctor´s expression becomes shocked and he is speechless, and after some prodding on your side he tells you he sees a large malignant-looking tumor that needs a biopsy right then.
Imagine that the next day you are told that the tumor is indeed an aggressive cancer rarely found in the uterus, indicating that it was probably a secondary or tertiary tumor, detonating a long week of tests to determine the situation and what paths were available to move forward toward healing.
Unfortunately, none of those scenarios were imaginary for me. This was the beginning of a journey that I never hoped to travel, but one that has changed the trajectory of my life and how I think about my own abilities forever.
After a week of thinking that I was dying and had tumors spread all over my body, I received the great news that the aggressive tumor was localized, and though it was too big for surgery, there was thankfully a medical plan available that would work for me. The next day, I had a port-a-cath inserted and began an arduous path towards healing with combined chemotherapy, radiation, and brachytherapy. It sounds like a horrible path, but I was so happy that cancer hadn’t spread any further and that I had a way forward, that I chose to hold on to that perspective and stride forward.
This is the essence of what I want to share with you: how managing my perspective has been a vital tool in managing my mood and my disposition throughout this journey. This meant taking control of my ability to respond (“response-ability”) to a given situation. I decided that I was going to look for the opportunity in every situation, and that changed my perspective dramatically.
As my world as I knew it had come to a halt, nothing made sense any longer, and things were quite confusing for me. But then I thought, “what is the opportunity in this?” and I realized that in front of me I had the opportunity to create my experience and in essence a new life.
That is when the deep work began. I am a very resourceful and independent woman, however, for deeper needs, I was looking to others and to my external world for answers. I went on a long path of self-discovery, focused mainly on the premise of taking response-ability for everything.
Reaching out to additional medical practitioners (outside of my main chosen medical team) helped me learn more about my illness and gave me confidence that the treatment I was receiving was the right one for me. In this process, I also built relationships with them, providing me additional support when necessary and an environment where I could have more casual discussions.
I created a network of friends and family that could provide me with the support I needed. However, I was very selective about who I brought into this network. I longed for positive and constructive people, who could not only provide me love and support but also shared my values and could bring me up when I need a little push. Those friends who had been through similar experiences had priceless suggestions for me, helping me get through different steps in the journey that otherwise would have been very painful such as when I lost my hair or when I have to go my quarterly checks ups and my whole world flips upside down again for me, despite the brave face I kept on for the outside world.
Through word of mouth, I learned about complementary therapies that could complement my treatment and that could help me dig deeper into myself and look for answers within. I tried everything that felt right to me, including bio-decoding, psychology, reiki, quantum healing, hypnosis, reflexology, supplements, and dietary changes. Each of these contributed to my wellbeing and to my healing journey in some way. In these therapies, I have had to face things from my childhood and adult life that were conveniently hidden away. Though this process can seem daunting at first, and surely takes some courage to face head-on, once things come out in the open, they are not as horrible as expected and can be dealt with the right tools. I learned that it´s not the same to face childhood traumas as an adult, as we can now see them through our adult eyes.
I designed my own methods of practicing daily what I learned, and this has been instrumental in integrating concepts that I learned and turning them into behaviors and values to which I am deeply committed. I have checkpoints with myself often to determine whether any modifications are needed, as I am in constant evolution and discover new facets of myself every day.
I read a lot, discovered new mentors, I listened to podcasts, and I wrote a lot, and spent a lot of quality time with myself.
And guess what? This path led me to ME. I am the hero I was looking for. I found my inner hero. Now, this path doesn´t end here, and this journey will continue for the rest of my life. I am committed to doing the self-work and introspection to develop and evolve towards deeper and stronger wellbeing.
Thankfully in record time I had a radical remission and went on to enjoy some months of relative tranquility health-wise. Unfortunately, like in all adventure stories, I came up against further setbacks at a later stage I have had to face, but they are further opportunities to learn and grow which I will detail at a later stage.
I have shared some of my “aha” moments on social media, serving as great conversation starters for more intimate conversation. This practice has led to people reaching out with their own stories, allowing us to connect on even deeper levels. I know what I have shared has led people to make changes in their lives, such as taking response-ability in their health and going to checkups that had been on hold for a long time, or stopping and having a look at why they are doing the things they do. I have had the pleasure of helping others discover things about themselves by giving them a different perspective, and that in itself has been very gratifying. I have learned that it is possible for people to make small, but meaningful changes in their lives that in turn result in them finding more joy and happiness in their day to day.
I have been practicing what I learned actively with my children and in my personal life, but I have also benefited greatly from these learnings in my professional life. In fact, I have been incorporating many of these practices in my work environment with my team and colleagues and am part of a team-leading transformational leadership across our organization. I even integrate many of these concepts in “TED-talk” style conference presentations about technology and partnership.
But I realize that deep down I want to reach many more people, and I want to create a tsunami of self-actualization and self-healing. I want to help YOU and every person on the planet who may be going through disruption like me, though any kind of disruption. The kind of disruption that shakes the pillars that hold you up and gives you the amazing opportunity to make changes in your life and live more authentically. I want you to feel empowered so that you realize that the strength and knowledge you are seeking is already inside of you. YOU are the hero.
I want to be a part of your journey to discover this, and in doing so, I have the honor to be a hero for you.
Now when I read Joe Dispenza´s quote “what if the worse thing that ever happened to me turned out to the best thing that ever happened to me,” I find new meaning and completely relate. My journey has led to me a new life that is much more joyful and complete. This new life is better aligned with my purpose and values about all things most important to me, including my wellbeing.
Have you experienced personal disruption? What you have learned from your journey, or what are you still learning?
I encourage you to share your story with others, and add the #uarethehero hashtags and tag @u_are_the_hero on Instagram. In helping others, YOU can also be the hero for them. Also, please grow our movement by sharing my account with your network so that we can build a supportive and healing community.
I’m sending you much strength and love, and a reminder that no matter your journey you are not alone. And oftentimes the hero you are searching for has been within you the whole time.