My Story: Finding My Voice
Each fall and spring, LBBC hosts “Writing the Journey,” a 6-part workshop series to help women with breast cancer express their feelings and document their journeys through writing. Liz Quinlisk shares “Finding my Voice,” a piece she wrote during the spring 2013 program, led by Alysa Cummings. Look for information on our new online writing program coming in spring 2015!
My Story: Finding My Voice
By Liz Quinlisk
Be Still. Look inside your heart, your mind, your body. What is there? What is this disease inside of you called cancer? Listen to your heart beating. What is it telling you? What is that little voice inside you saying, the voice you have drowned out with all of your busyness and running around? Be still and listen to that voice. She has something to say.
Cancer gave me the opportunity to look inside myself and find that little voice that was muffled underneath layers of pain and denial, the voice of a little girl who w as waiting patiently for me to find her. Cancer was the doorway that led me into my heart and ultimately toward my healing.
When I first started my treatments for breast cancer, I was a real trouper. I was determined to be cheerful and brave. I was a good patient. But as I went through the surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, my resolve wore thin. I became cranky, terrified and overwhelmed. The treatments for my cancer were invasive and frightening. Although I was receiving state-of-the-art medical care, it left me feeling like I was just a body part to be cut, poisoned or radiated. I felt fragmented. I knew there had to be more to my healing than what conventional medicine offered. My intuition and search for something better guided me to seek out professional counseling and complementary therapies. I received acupuncture and bodywork and began to practice meditation and yoga—all of which helped me reconnect with my body and to that part of me that felt safe and whole. I began to hear my inner voice more clearly:
There’s more to healing than just treating the body.
There’s something deeper here that needs to be healed.
It is scary, but you are not alone.
This voice became louder and more insistent. I was compelled to write. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. With each sentence I wrote, another brick was removed from the wall I had built around my heart to protect it. As the wall crumbled, the pain I had been holding back came spilling out of my heart, through my hands, and onto the pages of my journal. I remembered and wrote about being sexually abused as a child. I had buried my truth and swallowed my voice. I did what I was told to do. I was a good girl. All those years of silence about the awful things that had happened, things I didn’t even have words for, could now be brought into the light to be healed. I had found my voice. This was the beginning of my healing.
My healing journey has not been quick or easy. It has been 16 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through my healing process I have found my center, my voice and my truth. And from this place of healing grows my desire to share my truth with others, to offer encouragement and inspiration and to give voice to the little girl in me who was silenced for too long. I share my truth knowing that I am not alone. I am not the only one who has gone through the shame of childhood sexual abuse or the trauma of cancer.
I will not yield to the messages I received as a child and as an adult.
Don’t speak about it.
Get over it.
I will not be silenced.
Silence like a cancer grows.
If you have experienced sexual abuse and need advice or support, we encourage you to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233; thehotline.org) or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, RAINN (800-656-HOPE; rainn.org)