– By Jennifer Powers –
I had a prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy in December. I was asked to tell you about the peace and grace I found through my recent physical journey.
Our genetic make-up determines much of who we are as a person. After some testing, I found out that I am BRCA 1 gene positive, which means I had an 80% chance of developing breast cancer in my lifetime. Take that 80% and tack on the fact that my Grandmother and all of her daughters developed breast cancer and the odds weren’t good that I would escape the same fate.
I wrote pages on my experience: reflections on conversations with surgeons and quiet times waiting to be taken into surgery. Some small relief came when my pathology report revealed I was in fact a ticking time bomb. After trudging through all of the verbiage of this path, I found my voice.
I did find peace and grace through my experience, but it wasn’t this one experience or another that gave it to me. The truth is, I continue to find grace and peace in my life. There isn’t one experience that sums it all up. I don’t get to tie a ribbon on this journey because I made it through my parents’ divorce, or through a dear friend’s near fatal auto accident, or through a loved one’s death, or cancer. My journey to find peace comes in waves and ripples. At times, I am knocked over by its majesty and at other times, it is a quiet whisper in the back of my soul. Sometimes it is dirty and splattered with mud and sometimes it is a clean, clear awakening. Where grace and peace are found is in the knowledge that they exist. That even through feeling unloved or alone, we all must learn to sustain ourselves from an internal place that echoes our soul.
I did not start this journey, nor any other journey in my life for that matter, with grace or peace. Because I am human, I cry unexpectedly. I feel things I don’t want to feel. I am just one woman trying to do better every day. I am not striving for perfection. I don’t long for a trophy at the finish line. In the end, for me, grace and peace come from the knowledge I am still running. They come from knowing I am capable of learning from the splatters on my face. There is so much peace just knowing I am still in the game. That there is another day to learn. That this journey that you and I are on, no one has ever been on before. Our path is unique and brilliant and will leave something behind that only we can leave. What a marvelous infinite opportunity we are given.
So, here is the story about my journey. No better or worse than the story you could tell me.