All of Me

death and rebirth by Katariina Fagering

Newest painting finished this morning

This journey with cancer has called forth every emotion and question I could muster. I have spent many days walking the river’s edge asking what wants to be heard and what needs to be seen? My approach has been to open, rather than collapse around my diagnosis and the fear that wells up around such an event.

What came up for me is the need to embrace all of me, the light and dark. The depths of sorrow and despair alongside the joy and gratitude. I’m done with compartmentalize-ing all the pieces and parts of me that make up the wholeness of ME! Just like Inanna and Persephone who were able to bridge both the world of the sun and the underworld with grace and eloquence, I don’t want to leave any part of myself behind.

Being congruent and integration have been my mantras during this season of reconciliating this idea of cancer within me. I had to first, soften and open to the idea of the cancer within  and then soften and open some more to the idea that a bilateral mastectomy is the right choice for me.

I am feeling buoyed and supported by all those around me and also my higher self who can see that I’m a rock star for even showing up in this world. I will still mourn the loss of my breasts and will feel the sorrow that goes along with it but I know very well that, “this too will pass.”

death and rebirth by Katariina Fagering

I wrote this poem while walking along the river’s edge. I came to a tree that had shattered and fell head first into the river.

Shattered to be Reborn

Was I always

broken and submerged

in the stillness

of a fast-moving

river?

Did I fall head first

shattered, splintered, broken

overwhelmed by the deluge

of water filling

my lungs?

Or did I drown in the

pure healing waters

of the raging river?

And was I washed clean of my sins

baptized by the great Mother?

Did my dark, wet hair tangle

flowing down stream

under the calm surface

where the water rages

in the deep shadow?

Did my rotting flesh and white bones

feed and nourish

the river banshees

who greedily devoured

the silvery skin of my old beliefs?

I must have

shattered to fall a part.

I drowned to be cleaned.

I decayed to let go of the old.

I’m writing this to be reborn.

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Mourning Dove

mourning dove painting by Katariina Fagering

“be wise as a snake and gentle as a dove” Matt 10:16

Mourning Dove

After all this time 
She still finds me
No matter where I wander
or land
She wakes me with 
 
Her melancholic coo
Singing to her lover
Calling him home, 
“This is your home” she sings
“Beside me.”
 
After all is sung
She builds a nest 
in the cavity of my breast
Calling me home
My home – within me.

Sometimes when I’m in the midst of an intense experience, I can’t really write about it just yet. I usually need to give it some room and space.

I wrote this poem back in April while sitting out in my front yard listening to the mourning doves coo. I have a few more poems and paintings I will be sharing over these next few days leading up to my bilateral mastectomy, June 12th.

I feel so held and safe on this journey. I’ve come to the understanding that this cancer is just another experience I’m having – not much different from Officer Candidate School (twice), childbirth (twice), going to war (twice) – all of these involved pain and suffering but amazing gifts as well.

Since my diagnosis I’ve received an outpouring of love and support. More importantly, I’ve gained a deeper sense of belonging in this life that I struggled with before. My PTSD and my depression got in the way of me seeing all the joy and gifts surrounding me. My belonging in this life and in this world alluded me for so many years. Today, it’s as if the veil has lifted and I see my place, my value and my love (all of my loves).

I will write more about this tomorrow.

Much Love,

Katariina

 

 

 

Ducts Are for Milk Not Cancer

Saturn Returns by Katariina Fagering

It’s a crazy thing to become one of the 10 percent that actually get breast cancer. The one friend in ten who is diagnosed. When I got the call from the radiology office to come back in for further pictures of my right breast, I didn’t give it a lot of energy or thought.

Whale Story by Katariina Fagering

Today three weeks later after three biopsies all testing positive for cancer, I am pondering what life will be like without my breasts. Of course, there will be new ones where mine once were and it will be my skin but they won’t be mine. They won’t have the feel of natural tissue; there will be scars and my nipples won’t respond to different temperatures or sensations. My nipples will be stuck in whatever permanent position I decide to reconstruct them into. That’s hard for me to wrap my head around.

Creature Within  by Katariina Fagering

Loosing my breasts sounds so extreme but I’m actually getting off pretty easy as far as cancer goes. Mine is noninvasive and I caught it early enough that it’s treatable without chemo or radiation. It’s called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). There are these tiny calcifications within my milk ducts that haven’t found their way out. I could hold off and see what the calcifications do; but once the cancer finds its way to my lymph nodes then it’s not so simple as just removing my breasts.

breast cancer by Katariina Fagering

Some days I wake up enlivened with lists of actions I can take to get healthier, stay grounded and find healing. Other days I feel the pull to dive deeper by asking the questions, “What is wanting to be loved? What is wanting to be heard? What is wanting to be seen?” These queries take me below the surface into a place that cracks me open to parts of myself I haven’t visited or explored ever!!

Emerging from the Womb  by Katariina Fagering

 

My creativity has opened up in a way I can’t explain. I am not sure where these paintings came from, I’m just listening and asking over and over again, “What wants to be heard? What wants to be seen?”

Woman within offering by Katariina FageringThese paintings and who shows up within them comforts me. I truly know that this diagnosis and this journey is an opportunity to widen and awaken my awareness of who I am and to ground my entire being into truly seeing my authentic purpose for showing up for this life.

Discovering I have cancer has proven to be a wild ride and I wonder why it is that it takes death to bring us closer to truly living our life?