Today I am filled with some childhood memories of mandalas. Perhaps it is because the 14th was my mother’s birthday, or in part it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But a lot of what is coming up is that year that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was eight, my brother Tim was just born. The details are fuzzy. But I remember getting a Spirograph that year for Christmas from my grandparents. My birthday the day prior I turned nine.
I am curious now that connection with them is so strong. I sense there were seeds planted in my youth to help me find my way to the truth. When I was ready to handle it. Because at eight or nine years old, it was too much for my fragile soul.
A mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. In the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shintoism it is used as a map representing deities, or especially in the case of Shintoism, paradises, kami or actual shrines.
A mandala generally represents the spiritual journey, starting from outside to the inner core, through layers. In spiritual or religious process, a mandala is a period of approximately 40 days in which time the human system completes one physiological cycle.
So back to my childhood memories of the Spirograph. I was obsessed with it. At the time my world was complete chaos, it was 1974 and I was struggling with the weight of the world on my shoulders. My mother was sick, soon after that my grandfather was ill and stress was my constant companion. I didn’t know it at the time but that simple toy helped calm me. A toy that came out the year I was born.
So this week I have been stressed. I just put on an event with a friend and the let down from it was hard. I learned a lot, and I have been beating myself up for not knowing better. Work was busy and then there is the drama at the church we go to. I found this mandala to color and I colored it. The process calmed me. It reminded me of a time of chaos and how I found solace in a few colored pens and a toy.
Breast Cancer Awareness
What I am understanding, is that it is two years since my BRCA journey began. I have struggled with how I look and I remember clearly hearing my mother crying in the bathroom on many occasions. Not understanding what was wrong. We were only told that she was sick and to behave ourselves. I think I was in my late teens when I found out she was a Breast Cancer Survivor. Only now some 47 years later, I understand.
How fortunate I was to have reconstruction, back in 1974 that wasn’t an option. Breast Cancer was not discussed, a taboo subject. Betty Ford underwent treatment for Breast Cancer just months prior to my mother. When Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974, a mastectomy—often a radical mastectomy involving removal of the breast, muscle and lymph nodes—was the standard of care.
This morning my nightgown was unbuttoned when I caught myself in the mirror. I was tickled pink that finally I saw my image and didn’t want to cry. The road is not over for me, I still have another revision surgery that will happen in December, but for now, I am grateful. I had the ability to fight cancer on my own terms and win. It has been a hard road, and faced with the same decision I would do it all over again.