Let Go Of Cancer — Jump Into The Unknown

Bernadette is a breast cancer survivor who had the opportunity to have a free underwater healing session with Erena Shimoda. Read on to learn more about the project and Bernadette's story.

Four days before my 34th birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 1, triple negative breast cancer. Honestly, when I first heard "triple negative," I thought that was a good thing. Clearly, I was wrong. After that, I was all about "what's next"? I had to figure out how to tell my loved ones, because I didn't live in the same city as any of my closest friends or family. I told most people over the phone or e-mail, but I got sick and tired of having to tell the same thing to so many people over, and over, and over again, so for everyone else, I just put a post on Facebook. It might sound cold, but it was easy, and the truth is, when you're diagnosed with cancer, what's easiest really is what's best.

During chemo, I had the odd fear, which I talked to my oncologist about, but other than that, I was okay. It was only when other breast cancer patients asked my diagnosis that I was really afraid - just from their reaction to my triple negative status. When I eventually entered "remission," I was in denial. I didn't like the word remission, and although it was comforting to know that there was no evidence of disease then, I actually found this "new normal" more frightening than the treatment phase. Since then, my biggest struggle has been to actually start living again. Now that my appointments are only a couple times a year, I need to let go of cancer...but I don't think there will ever be a "post-cancer" phase for me. I know that sounds ridiculous coming from someone who was diagnosed at stage one, but because of my diagnosis, there is always that chance.

I relate my cancer experience to jumping out of my comfort zone and jumping into something unknown. I figured if I could take chemo (like a boss, I might add), I could pretty much do anything. So when I learned about the Underwater Healer - About Face campaign, I jumped at the opportunity to try something new like this - to again jump into the unknown, but this time, by my own will.

As I'm not located on the West Coast of the US, I wasn't able to participate in the campaign but The IHadCancer team and Erena worked hard to find a way for me to have these sessions anyway. I traveled to San Francisco for the session, and as the photos were being taken, I wasn't sure how they would turn out or even if any would be worth using. But when Erena showed me afterward, I was surprised. Not surprised at her talent, as she is clearly extremely talented, but at how great the session translated into these amazing photos and how I felt as I was looking back at them. After having so many surgeries and needle pokes, the session with Erena made me realize that I am a beautiful, strong woman - and that was an incredible realization. View Bernadette's photos here.

I loved every moment of it and am so thankful to be a part of something so amazing - It's truly a once in a lifetime experience that I'll never forget.


(Image courtesy of Erena Shimoda)