At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads

It has been a season of good-byes, as I had previously confided in my post Love and Loss; and here I am enduring yet another difficult parting. My Physiotherapist of 7 years has moved on. She is leaving the city as well as her practice. Although I wish her nothing but love and happiness as she embarks on her newest endeavours, I cannot help but feel deeply saddened at my own personal loss.

Allow me to illuminate for a moment. The journey one travels when diagnosed with, and then treated for breast cancer, is resoundingly personal – every aspect of the journey is unique to self, from the diagnosis, to the treatment, to the healing process. And, throughout the journey, you will be cared for by practitioners of multiple disciplines with a diversity of knowledge and training. Over these past 7 years I have been treated by a Family Practitioner, Surgical Oncologist, Medical Oncologist, Kinesiologist, Social Worker, Psychologist, Massage Therapist, and Physiotherapist. One by one my support team of healers either discharged me as their patient (their task within my journey complete), or left their practice to pursue other ambitions. Each time a practitioner bid their farewell and well-wishes to me, I have had to learn to step forward in my journey without them. And each good-bye was challenging for me, because it left me feeling vulnerable. I had to learn to trust in the care I received from them, as well as apply the skills they [may have] provided to me.

Therefore, throughout my own journey I have actively worked toward healing both body and mind. I have battled my innermost fears of reoccurrence and consciously focused on my overall well-being, despite any set-backs or scares I have faced along the way. I have had to learn how to live with balance. So, my focus has remained on the healing process to achieve a place of inner peace. It was my Physiotherapist who travelled this challenging path with me over these past 7 years.

My Physiotherapist, L (as I will call her), worked through layers of damaged tissue as well as wounded emotions. She showed me alternative ways of coping with and alleviating my daily pain caused by post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS). She reminded me of the benefits of breath and stillness, and guided me on the healing remedies of essential oils. Her treatments and her natural healing abilities promoted physical and emotional well-being within me. It was her wisdom, compassion, skill, and care that carried me through these tumultuous years. She was my healer as well as my source of strength. I would not be where I am, within my journey, had it not been for L.

My last session with L just past. It was bittersweet, knowing that this session marked our final good-bye. I felt at a loss for words. How does one express their gratitude for the love and care received all these years? How does one properly bid farewell? I could not say much within the moment – words were stuck in my throat as I choked back the tears that began to overwhelm me. Was I being overly emotional? Would I embarrass L and cross that line of practitioner-patient if I said too much or shed my tears? I will never know. In the moment, overwhelmed by the final farewell, all I could muster was a warm embrace and four simple phrases – Thank you. I will miss you. I wish you so much happiness. Good-bye.

It now feels like the end of an era. My support team from the beginning of my journey have all moved on. And so, here I stand at the crossroads of my journey, alone. I do not feel as frightened as I once did. I do not feel as vulnerable. It is within this moment that I am overwhelmed with so much gratitude for all of the love and care I have received from all of the practitioners who once travelled this journey with me – how much they gave, to give me my life.

… and of course, L. I will carry with me the guiding light that she instilled in me. I will carry her warmth and healing in my heart. Always. For this is what treatment should look like – a string of compassion, caring, and trust to treat a person throughout the turmoil, and aid them along the path of healing. And because each practitioner has a role to play in the process, eventually – one by one – they must say good-bye. And you, you must continue onward trusting in all they gave.

But this … this was my hardest good-bye.

At the Crossroads. Published by Crystal Joy Hall

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