Featuring Connie Bramer
I learned that fortitude is a raw necessity when you are facing tough times and that it comes from a deep place within.
Albert Einstein coined the phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By that definition, we all live in a state of insanity. We get up, get our kids ready and off to school, drive to work, cook dinner, wrangle the kids into bed, and then we do it all over again, waiting for things to get better. If that’s not the definition of insanity, it’s close.
I was there once—and then everything changed. All of a sudden, it was like the quarter in a coin toss landed on its side and stayed there for months. This coin toss forced a change in the cycle of insanity—my insanity.
When you’re told that you have cancer, everything you think about yourself and your life changes. What is this foreign invader rampaging through my body like an army of vicious red ants? As a single working mom, what will happen to my kids if I don’t win this battle? And what man will ever want to share a life with me after this crisis? These were the questions that haunted me.
The most apparent and outward change was to my body.
In a strange way, we all take our bodies for granted, believing that they will “hold up” through life’s many challenges. But the sight of my body without breasts shocked me and wounded me to the core.
I was mystified that something entirely outside of my control could take a part of my body from me. During chemotherapy, weight fell off me as if I were a melting popsicle in the heat of summer. The “ideal weight” I had once strived for was now higher on the scale. I didn’t recognize myself anymore.
I remember going shopping for new jeans with one of my friends from college, because nothing fit me anymore. I had always worn a size 6 or 8. Now, those sizes hung off me. In a size 8, I looked like I was wearing a potato sack in a children’s race.
I was astonished when cancer put me into the coveted size 2.
Size 2 is the template for skinny girls. I had never been able to get there on my own, but with cancer’s help, I became skinny! Was that a bright side to this mess? It didn’t really make the disease worth it, but it seemed like a plus for a while.
At a school function, one of those perfect, size-2 skinny-moms saw me and exclaimed, “You look AMAZING! What have you been doing?”
My response could have been, “I’ve been spending three hours a day at the gym, and I only eat egg whites and drink tea now.” That’s what she probably did.
Instead, I said, “Oh, just a little chemotherapy every other week for the last four months.”
I couldn’t help myself. I was still snarky. Needless to say, she looked around for the nearest “jaws of life” to extricate her perfect size-8 foot from her mouth. I felt a little bad, but … not really.
Cancer was chipping away at me, but on the inside, I was still me.
Journaling became my soul’s therapy.
Keeping my sense of humor and writing about the crazy things that happened to me was my way of mentally coping with all of it. I found humor in every part of the journey: the up sides, and even the down sides of cancer. I wrote about the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. Writing became my release and gave me a sense of control during the chaos of cancer. I still had a mind and a mouth. I used both to give a voice to my cancer journey.
But I was also still a mom with two young kids who needed me. I was not about to fail them—and I wouldn’t allow them to see my body failing. I strategically scheduled my chemotherapy so I would be ill when they were with their dad. I hid my pain from them.
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Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from just one of many Sacred Stories of our time. Powerful voices from around the globe that speak to our shared human experience. May they inspire you and give you great hope. Order your personal copy of CHAOS TO CLARITY: SACRED STORIES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE today and discover hope for the future and a blueprint for your life ⤵︎