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A Thriver's Story

The Spiritual Side of Illness

I have known Cindy Greb for over 25 years and am gratified to have been able to witness her journey from diagnosis to successful living as a breast cancer ‘thriver’.

She shares her initial experience the first time she knew that something was amiss. “It was very unexpected. I had always been healthy. It was scary. The waiting to have the biopsy was the hardest part. My dear friend, Julia, who had had breast cancer about twenty years ago had said as much to me. She said that the waiting to know was the hardest part. After that, I just dealt with it. She was right. And it was a longer wait for me than for many because 1) I didn’t have insurance and so there was red tape involved in trying to get me medical assistance, and 2) I got clear I needed to change doctors and so I had to have a whole additional set of appointments, etc.

According to Cindy, “I think when any woman (or man) first suspects cancer, there is fear. No matter how much my rational mind and larger spiritual self can rationalize that ultimately all will be well, we have a tendency in this culture to associate cancer with death, and we have the tendency to be afraid of death. It was a very long process for me to work through those fears. It took me about ten months from the onset of my symptoms to come to a place of deeper peace.”

She explains: “A turning point came, once again, when I received some wisdom from my friend, Julia. She said, in essence: “Most cancers grow very slowly. You have time to make the right choice for yourself. You don’t have to hurry with your decisions. After I got that advice, I felt some palpable relief. It can feel like a whirlwind to go from symptom to primary doctor to mammogram to specialist to ultrasound to other doctors, etc. And the surgeon I was initially sent to essentially told me “this is what we are going to do.” That did NOT sit well with me, although I was too shell-shocked and, surprisingly, timid to question him at the time. But a day or two later, I eventually came to the realization that I needed to take some time to sit with my feelings and decide a proper course of action. I actually took myself to the shore so I could have some “time apart.” Once I did that, my next course of action became clear to me. And first on the list was to get a new doctor.

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Edie Weinstein
Related Topics: Breast Cancer

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