A few years ago, a mutual friend referred Kitty, a 53-year-old divorced career woman to Empowered Health Foundation because Kitty sensed she needed “something else” in her life after struggling with the aftermath of breast cancer. She had been diagnosed seven months prior and followed a very traditional treatment approach, receiving a left side mastectomy three months in; chemotherapy followed every three weeks for the next year. The continual treatment gave her a list of undesirable side effects, and, as if that wasn’t enough, she was taking steroids as well as medication to treat anxiety and depression. Overall, the entire experience left her feeling fearful, depressed and sad.
The first day we met, Kitty limped into my office with a huge smile, a gentle handshake and disheveled presence. Her energy was flighty and ungrounded, leaving her accident-prone. Hidden behind a long, tousled wig that covered most of her face, I sensed such a sweet soul trying hard to keep it all together in her professional, fashionable attire while awkwardly trying to get around with her broken foot encased in a walking boot.
I felt that it was important to start our work by focusing on positive targets and wanted to understand where Kitty was and where she wanted to be. I asked her to describe a healthy version of herself.
“A non-workaholic, not so overly optimistic, my hair grown in and fifteen pounds lighter,” she listed. “But most importantly, I want to be aware of my body and help my body to not have cancer.”
The power behind those words resonated with me; she needed that peaceful warrior attitude for her journey to be successful.
Kitty is a driven, hard working tax accountant with long hours under hard deadlines, and when she received her breast cancer diagnosis she told me something painfully sad:
“Gina, you know what my first thought was when the doctor told me that I had breast cancer?” she asked. “I was relieved to get a break!”
She was tearful. How courageous to admit the truth; she was worn out and needed a pause in her life so she was willing to take cancer as the excuse. “I feel like I just want to have a nervous breakdown and no one will let me,” she said.
Kitty wanted more than anything to talk with her friends and family about what she was going through, but they appeared uncomfortable with that kind of emotion so she did what she had done her entire life and bottled it up.
She had a lifetime of hurt, disappointment and a lack of love buried right into her fourth chakra: the energetic area of the heart and breast tissue where we naturally nurture and feel love. This led to anger, which is one of the strongest emotions associated with cancer.
Over the course of our sessions, Kitty began to see the weight of her past decisions—marrying out of familial duty and not out of love, devoting too much time to work, forgoing her dreams—and if she wanted a peaceful, loving life she was going to have to start finding ways to work less and find time to enjoy things that made her happy, but this was going to involve her starting to say, “No.”
After some months of working together at EHF, in walked a strikingly gorgeous Kitty with a short salt and pepper pixie cut, stylish black skirt and red heels. I knew she was on the road to wellness. Things began to click for Kitty, and I knew it when she told me a friend invited her to stay at a plush home in Mexico that included a chef and other relaxing amenities. She was reluctant to go because of the unsafe water and frightened she would become sick, but she stopped herself from entertaining the fear. She realized she needed to just be smart and cautious and allow herself to savor the moments. It was a clear decision, one that she trusted and one that gave her a wonderful time that she hadn’t experienced in forever. Change.
Six months after we first began our work together, Kitty was cancer f-r-e-e! Her blood work was clear! When she first came in “she was so lost in life,” she felt like she had been holding her breath, and now she felt like she could breathe again. She admitted that she was hesitant to step into a cancer free life for fear it would return, but she also knew that she would be okay. One day she came in and told me that she no longer wanted the mastectomy on the other side. After looking at the Archetypal Pattern in her life she realized that she’d been living the life of someone else, someone that her parents had cultivated. She needed faith and strength in her life and in herself, and felt fortunate to have a strong spiritual Buddhist rooting.
At 53-years-old, Kitty is ready to live her life as she always imagined: a life filled with dreams and loving people. The Lover archetype personifies her perfectly. She is a lover at the core and it is her very existence, which is why she is always helping everyone. As the Lover with boundaries, she can fill her heart tank and give love while learning how to receive it, create some balance as the joy overrides the pain and she can live a life she loves free of heartache and full of health.9