How Cancer Saved My Life by Willow Star

Content Warning: The following blog contains thoughts of suicide and depression, which some readers may find distressing. Please proceed with caution and seek support if needed.

My life was literally falling apart. I felt like I was slowly dying from the inside and ironically, I actually wanted to die. Praying that a car would run into me after dropping my kids off at school was my daily prayer. Misery was my reality. I was forty-six and had been married for twenty-five years to a man I knew I shouldn't have married. That’s more than half of my life! Not getting my emotional needs met brought me deeper and deeper into depression. We felt more like siblings than lovers. Bickering was how we communicated.

My teenage kids were both struggling and that was hard for me to navigate. I was not emotionally resourced, and their dad wasn’t really available. My life was a complete mess.

Life wasn’t pleasurable, everything felt like a chore. Somehow, I became a ‘50’s housewife’ and that was never my dream. I was not living my own life, I put everyone else first and was at the end of my rope. I was so reactive and angry at home yet kept a smile on my face. and pretended like everything was a-okay to the outside world.

Drinking a bottle of wine on the couch, by myself after everyone went to bed, was my escape. Watching cued up episodes of Nightline was the perfect distraction from my depressing existence. Sugary treats brought me comfort, but they were a temporary fix. It was a very dark time.

Well, you know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” ...while I didn't get hit by a car, I did find a large lump in my right breast.

It was May 2016, when I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, with METs to my liver. To say I was completely blindsided would be an understatement. I quickly realized I didn't actually want to die; I just wanted a new life.

Cue the blessing of cancer! The first days after the diagnosis were terrifying. I was numb and devastated. The oncologist said most people lived two and a half years with the cancer and to go enjoy my life. I really wasn’t prepared to die. I was a mess.

A few days later, everything shifted. My gut told me I was going to be okay. I had faith I could heal. I don’t know where that came from, and it was palpable. I knew I could live…if I changed all the things that gave me cancer.

There is nothing like a Stage IV diagnosis to get your butt in gear! A dear friend who was dying from cancer gifted me the book, Radical Remission and said she wished she had learned about it earlier in her diagnosis. It became the roadmap to my healing.

While waiting to get into UCSF, for a second opinion with a top cancer researcher, I started my own holistic healing regimen. This was a huge blessing! I was beginning to feel empowered for the first time in my life.

I immediately told my husband we had to start transitioning out of marriage into co-parenting/friendship. I stopped drinking and started eating tons of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Fresh green juices replaced sugary treats. I started taking full extract cannabis oil and five different medicinal mushrooms.

I found two great therapists and worked on healing my emotional wounds. A dear friend introduced me to ecstatic dance, as a tool to process my emotions. Through the ecstatic dance community, I was introduced to so many amazing healing modalities like breathwork, sound baths, cacao ceremonies, plant medicines, cold therapy, and EFT. My life was forever changed.

Connecting with nature and God became very important to me. I got rid of my TV.

Basically, I started caring for myself and putting my needs first and trusting in the belief I could actually heal. I immersed myself in all things healing. I really learned to trust my inner voice and wisdom.

Two and a half months after the initial diagnosis, I had my first appointment with a top oncologist at UCSF. She said with her protocol of Faslodex, Zoladex and Ibrance, I could possibly live thirty-three months. She wanted to keep me “comfortable”.

I was leery of western medicine, and I knew my diagnosis was serious. I reflected on her offer and felt it was aligned enough, so I said yes. I asked for a CT scan before starting her protocol to see if what I had been doing had worked.

Well…boy did it! I had significant shrinking in every single tumor! I was over the moon! When I got the diagnosis, they said my tumors probably wouldn’t shrink. They just hoped they would stabilize! This was a huge win for me and probably the single most important thing I did to heal. By asking for the scan before starting their protocol, I knew that holistic healing was possible and important.

I started their treatments alongside my own healing tools. I started saying no to things I didn’t want to do and yes to new things. I became so healthy! I lost forty pounds, just from quitting sugar & alcohol and eating healthy. Instead of going through the motions of life I actually started living. Nature became my playground. Adventure was my new drug of choice. Everything began to shift. I could feel my healing. Way beyond my physical body, my emotional and spiritual bodies were also healing. Every scan the tumors were smaller and smaller. Within eighteen months, I was tumor free.

Seven and a half years later, I am still tumor free and am living the life of my dreams! I now live on five acres in the forest with a view of Mount Shasta! My ex and I invested in the land together and are great friends. My kids are blossoming and live on the land too.

I spend my days coaching others going through cancer, making content about my healing journey, and sharing my story with as many people as I can. I believe this is my purpose. I want to inspire others that healing is possible, no matter what they are facing. Cancer can be a blessing if you let it.

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