What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender before Nana came to tidy the room.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-handle ?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse, “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse,  for he was always truthful.  “When you are REAL you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse, “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all because once you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don”t understand.”      from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Facing a life-threatening illness is traumatic for the patient as well as for partners, families, and friends, and also deeply affects the providers who care for those affected by cancer.  There are many ways to heal  the wounds of trauma.  What is important is the awareness and attention that is given to those who are suffering.  It is possible to move from the dark abyss of fear into the open heart of self-discovery.

Healing can go deep into the heart and soul and make us REAL.  And healing sometimes shows up in ways you aren’t too crazy about.  I know that I was always grateful for the moments when there could be genuine dialogue about my struggles and pains as I went through treatment for cancer and beyond.  There can be pressure for women to “get back to their lives” or find the “new normal” rather than allow the space and time for true healing.  When people talk about the “gift of cancer” I want to say, “I think I’d like a different gift- how about a million dollars!”  Oh well…

Yet having cancer has brought me many gifts and I continue to be grateful for the moments of my life.  Sometimes being real and healing hurts but by leaning up against our pain we may find a release that moves us on in our lives.

Today I wish you all deep and real healing.