In their silence, there is strength.
The bravest, most passionate fighters I know are the hundreds of breast cancer survivors I have met over the past twelve years. They work alongside you and me every day, but we could never guess what they have experienced. Unwilling to be the center of attention, they choose to keep their illness to themselves. But when they hear of another's diagnosis, they are the first ones at her side, offering comfort in the way only a survivor can. Letting her know that she is not alone, they become her link to the amazing bond of the sisterhood of survivors.
They have fought for themselves, and they fight for others.
They believe in hope for a cure.
So the when someone tells them, "You fight like a girl", they smile, knowing they are counted among the most powerful people on this planet.
And I thank them all for sharing their strength with me.
This was written in gratitude and admiration for all the breast cancer survivors I know. For more about Susan's connection with survivors, read below.
January 2000. The New Year began on an exciting note. It was the first year of a brand new Healing Touch project that would affect many lives over many years, especially mine. Working for the Bosom Buddies of Hawai'i program, I enrolled our first client that month. I was blessed to begin experiencing and intimately connecting with hundreds of breast cancer survivors and nearly 200 Healing Touch volunteers.
Initially based at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, the Bosom Buddies program, a coalition of institutions including Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children, Kaiser Permanente, Hospice Hawai'i and Healing Touch Hawai'i, matched each client with a volunteer Healing Touch provider who gave Healing Touch treatments to her "buddy". Each Healing Touch volunteer buddy received additional training that included Healing Touch techniques specifically cited by Healing Touch founder, Janet Mentgen, and also challenged the volunteer participants to look within and discover their own "essence". Armed with this knowledge and skill, they served as community models for self-care as they brought their true essence to the buddy relationship. We had the very best of Hawai'i's Healing Touch community supporting the Bosom Buddies of Hawai'i program by serving on our Advisory Committee, participating in our training sessions, and simply being present as we accomplished our mission. They managed to bring strength and confidence to this compassionate program as we supported survivors through their breast cancer experience. Several programs on the mainland US are based on the same philosophy. The founders of Florida based Healing Touch Buddies attended our training before they began offering their services to survivors in their community.
Healing Touch is a complementary modality that uses light hands-on techniques to bring balance to the energetic system of the client's body. It is this heart-centered touch that asks nothing of the client that allows our clients to relax fully; something that a woman facing breast cancer rarely does. When a Healing Touch session is complete, the client is balanced in all four aspects: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The sense of well-being is a refreshing change, and our clients often feel lighter, and look brighter and younger!
My contact with our clients, women living in Hawai'i who had a diagnosis of breast cancer, was via telephone as I enrolled each woman and heard her story. I soon realized that I could hear what they really wanted to communicate to me by listening quietly. How odd it seemed to be able to "know" each client by paying attention to the silence between her words. But at the same time, it wasn't so odd at all. I got to know every woman's personality and celebrated with her in one moment, and then wiped away some tears in the next.
There is something profound in making heart to heart connections with others. I know every volunteer has felt this with their "buddies", and although the Bosom Buddies of Hawai’i program closed its doors in 2006, Healing Touch providers throughout the State of Hawai'i continue to make a difference in the lives of the people they connect with.
Susan Suzuki has been working with breast cancer survivors for more than a dozen years. She continues to offer Healing Touch as part of her practice at the Healing Arts Center in 'Aiea. She also served briefly as a member of the Hawai'i Affiliate of the Komen for the Cure Grants Committee. See http://www.komenhawaii.org/
Call for information about Healing Touch in the community: 808-484-4881.
Watch the KITV4 news clip from October 26, 2010: http://www.kitv.com/video/25204303/detail.html