The Strength of a Woman

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day.

I’d like to tell you a story about a woman who fought cancer and beat it.

In 2010, Sari King, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Heartbroken and shocked, she weighed her options. She questioned God, questioned herself and with the support of her family and friends, she summoned the courage to fight, and to fight on her own terms.

Sari decided that she wanted to fight naturally, using the power of prayer and natural healing. Though her friends and family were skeptical, Sari was determined to do battle on her own terms. Sari would often tell me about her most difficult times and I’m often struck by the imagery of one moment in particular. Overwhelmed with pain and hopelessness she laid on the floor of her bedroom and wept. She let the darkness that is cancer wash over her, and with each moment she waded deep into the pain. With each tear that fell, she acknowledged her fears, gave voice to her hopelessness and waited to be overtaken by the depth of her struggle. Instead of being enslaved by this gut-wrenching reality, she actually found freedom. For as she named her fears she was actually releasing them. In the midst of her darkness, she was able to embrace hope, and reclaim her desire for healing. As she faced the truth of her life and boldly confronted her darkest thoughts, she was actually opening the doorway to healing.

Like many, Sari’s fight to heal was filled with difficult choices. One of the first was a decision to have her breast tissue removed and with it, all traces of cancer. Though the surgery acted as the resolution to her cancer, it was yet another step fraught with the back and forth of pain and joy, tears and triumph. Her family stood beside her, lifting her up, metaphorically and physically, when she was too weak on her own. But her strength prevailed and as her body healed, she reclaimed her life. She arose because she knew that it was her choice to claim her life as her own and remind herself that she was healed and whole. Each day, she acknowledges that her fight is not over; her journey is one that began with a diagnosis but was fought through strong belief and perseverance and will continue on in the same way.

Sari emerged from her struggle with a strong commitment to the power of natural healing and prayer and a fundamental shift in focus. In the power of natural healing, she had found her passion and with it a desire share her knowledge and her story as inspiration to others. At the same time, she recognized the importance of pursuing her own dreams. She eventually opened a cookie company and began catering with her daughter. Though Sari’s body is marked by of its brush with cancer, her soul is stronger for the experience.

There are so many days when I’m inspired by women such as these. Survivors who not only overcame, but faced the full spectrum of emotions and embraced the pain, fought for themselves, and triumphed. Women like Sari let us know that we are not limited by our circumstances but can thrive in spite and because of them. Take a moment today and think of the powerful, courageous women in your life who inspire you to continue to fight and take on life’s battles as they come.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.