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The Miami Herald honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month by featuring a moving personal account of aSouth Floridabreast cancer survivor.

 

The Miami Herald honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month by featuring a moving personal account of aSouth Floridabreast cancer survivor.

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.”

By Breast Cancer Survivor Patricia San Pedro —

Like many who came to this great country with the hope of providing their children with a better way of life, my exiled parents sacrifi ced a great deal for me. They made sure I attended good schools, and encouraged me to be the best I could be. I wanted very much to make them happy and proud, and to show my gratitude for all they had done for me. So, starting at a young age, I was driven to over-achieve and prove myself to ensure that their efforts and sacrifi ces were not in vain.

Great challenges represented great opportunities to grow as a person and a professional on the business playing field. Nothing seemed too lofty or out of reach for this ambitious career woman. But, as a person prone to taking things to extremes, what started out as an innocent and common desire to please my parents and achieve my own goals, twisted into an obsession to reach and attain, which led to abnormally excessive working habits. The proverbial corporate ladder climb came with the constant ringing of phones, fl ight itineraries, emails, deadlines, board meetings and at times 80 hour work weeks. Eventually, my body would insist on a reckoning and atonement for the whirlwind pace it endured for decades. When my body couldn’t take it anymore, I crashed, full speed, head on into cancer.

The diagnosis came on April 10th, 2008. There is no way to know for sure whether the cancer was brought on or helped along by the lifestyle I was living, but deep down, I knew. The diagnosis shook my foundation, bringing nearly all external life- processes to a screeching halt. I saw my mom’s life (and death) in front of me. She died of breast cancer 20 years prior at the age of 59. Most of what I had been spending my time doing before I was diagnosed, suddenly became far less important when I heard, “You have cancer”. This was my wake up call.

In the moments after hearing the diagnosis, somehow I knew that this would be God’s way of helping me grow and reach my fullest potential as a human being. It was an illness that came to heal me. It was in those moments that I realized I had the power to choose my attitude for how I would handle the situation. My instinct was to react as I usually do… looking at the glass as half full. I have faith that everything happens as it does for a reason, whether brought about by divine design, or by human manifestation. So I considered no option other than leaning into this diffi cult situation and learning what I was supposed to learn. If God’s will aligned with mine, I would survive cancer, use the healing journey as a time to reconnect with myself, set a new course for my life, and fi nd ways to help others with what I’ve learned.

Now the double mastectomy and most of the reconstructive surgeries are behind me. One year of chemo and Herceptin treatment are done and I am living my life differently. I am passionate about sharing my story with the hope… of giving hope… no matter what obstacles fall in your path. I am speaking around the world on topics such as overcoming Adversity Through Joy & Finding Inner Peace, Motivation, Inspiration and Wellness, Paving The Road To An Authentic Life and Living a Life of Purpose. Although it sounds strange, cancer changed my life for the better (www.PositivelyPat.com).

These days, I make sure to make time for me… to sit quietly and meditate, read a good book, practice my faith, have fun, exercise, create meaningful projects for my clients and be completely present with each precious moment that unfolds before me. I also make time for other projects that have come about due to my breast cancer journey: a back-to-nature fun women’s retreat for breast cancer survivors and their female friends and loved ones (www.campbombshell.com), and a Link of Hope website, still in the design stage. The site we be filled with uplifting stories of inspiration and triumph over adversity, linking people from around the world in the spirit of caring, compassion, sharing and hope.

I believe that breast cancer came into my life to heal me. It has gone from being a dreaded enemy to being a catalyst for my own growth… a conduit through which to pass from one level of awareness to another. As its temporary host, I learned the lessons and welcomed the wisdom it offered. It came to teach me and now I’ve bid it a fond farewell, in gratitude and in light. I will never be the same person I was before breast cancer. Cancer has shown me the beauty of human kindness. Hopefully sharing my journey and story of hope and triumph will encourage others. And maybe if we continue to take our sense of compassion and purpose into the world, the legacy we leave will be generations that need not be concerned about breast cancer as it will be a thing of the past.

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