“When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, I went straight into action mode – phone calls, doctor appointments, second opinions, studying, and learning about my new ‘condition’. This full steam ahead approach continued for quite some time until all of the physical parts of my diagnosis had been dealt with, and there was simply nothing else left to do, no more action to plow through. Then came the hard part.
Walking for me has always been therapeutic, so when I finally realized I had a lot of emotional work to do, it felt only right that distance walking should be a catalyst to help me. In the fall of 2018, one year after my diagnosis, I walked the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile journey across Northern Spain. During that walk, I let it all out – the grief, the anger, the sadness, the mourning, all of it.
The more emotion I let out, the better I felt. The longer I walked, the stronger I became. Internal peace and calm literally took me over. And then I felt a shift, which was surely my inner self-transforming, as Glennon Doyle so rightly suggests.
One by one, I let go of all the things that had been holding me back, the gremlin voices in my head, the limiting beliefs, the ‘who are you to do that’ ideas. By the end of my forty days walking journey, I had become more resolute than I had ever thought possible.
My diagnosis occurred two months after an ‘all clear’ mammogram and ultrasound, and post-diagnosis I had learned in painful detail about the limitations of mammography in women with dense breasts. By the time I had finished my pilgrimage in Spain, I was compelled and emboldened to go on a mission to make sure my story doesn’t become other people’s story.
I would unapologetically empower women to find out their breast density, to learn their additional breast cancer screening options, and to insist and persist until they get the breast cancer screening they deserve to have.”