i am enough from cathy sly

i am enough from cathy sly

She now understands that the doubting started with the phone call from her doctor some nine years ago.

The tumor was indeed malignant.

She had breast cancer.

They had caught it early.

She was probably going to be okay.

The first six months were full of doctor visits, rounds of chemo and radiation, and she fought. Fought hard, coming out the other end stronger. Amazing herself at times with her strength, but also aware that she had not cried, or felt much sorrow throughout the ordeal. What she did feel was fear, anger and betrayal.

She had always taken her heath seriously. Friends teased her about her “organic ways”, no jarred baby food in her home when her boys were babies. She spent hours in her big organic garden; ground her own wheat made all their bread.

It was not fair.

This was not supposed to happen.

She found herself doubting herself. Doubting the choices she had made and felt confused. She had been so animate and so sure she was right and now it seemed to have done no good.

She felt as if the very soul of her being had turned on her, and she no longer trusted her passions, her gut feelings, her body, nor her chosen life style. The woman she had been was all wrong and so she tried hard to get rid of her, or at least ignore her. Soon bits and pieces of the strong, passionate woman she had been, started to fade. She had a new normal, suddenly white sugar was back in the house, along with ice cream with ingredients she could not pronounce.

Time went by and at her five-year mark her doctor told her he was releasing her to treat patients who had cancer; this was great news, but she hated to leave the security of him. Now she was on her own, and every ache and pain was cause for worry. But that was not all, another horrifying journey had started; not her journey but that of her oldest son.

It was dark.

It was scary.

It was life threatening.

People told her it was not her life, that she needed protect herself; her counselor telling her over and over it was not her fault, but the new her didn’t cry or feel sorrow, she was pissed.

She felt cheated all over again.

She had been a good mother, homeschooling their three boys, allowing them a childhood full of wonder and learning. She and her husband had a strong marriage and had taught their boys honesty and good morals, taught them to be kind and allowed them to follow their passions. And here she was; everything she fought so strongly for, felt so passionate about, all for not. She had done things wrong again.

It seemed that her whole life was somewhat of a joke. She didn’t know who she was any longer; she lost her passion, her drive, and found herself on autopilot. Pretty soon days turned into weeks and weeks into months and then years, and she was stuck. She knew she had to do something or she would just shrivel up inside and become a bitter old woman.

And then it happened. One day, while sitting at her desk at school, watching the rain fall outside her window she knew she had to make some changes or she was going to be gone. It was a bit of an epiphany really and she knew exactly what needed to be done for her to start to feel alive again. She needed to feel something, even if it was scary and uncomfortable, she needed to take chances again and start living again.  She needed to put herself first, and not worry about how it might affect others.

And she did.  Over the course of the next year she did things, which not only surprised her, but those around her. She quite her teaching job, spent three weeks in Europe, (the eleven hour plane trip, which so scared her, had always stopped her before), moved to be with her husband full time, picked up her camera and started a blog.

She started writing about her fears, her passions, her questions and misgivings. Trying to sort it all out and make sense of it all. She put herself out there for everyone to see almost everyday and it scared her but also made her feel alive. She started taking online photo classes, and in one learned to turn the lens around on herself, capturing bits and pieces of her for proof; proof that she was here and that she was enough.

The whole thing scared her right back into life and she started living again; started crying and laughing and accepting herself. Finally understanding the young woman didn’t do anything wrong, understanding that she did the best she could, followed her gut, and her passions and that she was okay; in fact, she was more than okay, she was enough. Enough and beautiful and strong and she now had the proof.



Cathy Sly is a retired teacher who bounces between Western Washington, where she and her husband own the home they raised their three sons in, and Eastern Washington, where he is currently working as a nuclear safety engineer. She doesn’t go anywhere now without her camera, captureing her everyday moments, no matter how big or small. She also turnes the camera around almost daily on herself to prove she is here and living.  You can read her blog at: http://mycornerthroughmylens.blogspot.com/ where she muses about her thoughts, passions and feelings, sometimes even crying. She also can be found hanging out in Flickr. Her oldest son is in recovery now and has been clean just over six months. She wakes up every day, loving her life and feeling so alive.


  • Papillon Sky Photography {amy}
    Posted at 15:58h, 19 July Reply

    I am speechless. What a powerful story of losing and finding yourself. Photography is so amazing in how it heals and allows us to discover ourselves. My camera has saved me from deep dark depression.
    My grandma was an alternative health practitioner who always took care of herself and was always reading about and focusing on health. She a similar reaction when she found she had cancer. She blamed herself. She was embarrassed. How could a healer get sick, she wondered. It's one of those great mysteries of life, I suppose. There was no answer. Sadly she did not survive, but she fought for her life until the very last minute. And she made the rest of us realize we had to live our lives to the fullest because you never know when it might end.
    I am so glad you survived and are here to share your story! Your strength is inspiring. I am going to check out your blog soon!

  • Tammy
    Posted at 16:06h, 19 July Reply

    So happy for you and the healing you've been through.

  • Viv
    Posted at 16:19h, 19 July Reply

    Cathy You have moved me, I to have come back from breast cancer , you are an inspiration as I feel as I am only living a half life at the moment, so your story has just come at the right time.

    Viv (desktop dreams)

  • michel
    Posted at 18:31h, 19 July Reply

    Wow Cathy. I don't even have words. This is the most beautifully written piece – heart stopping. And touching. And golden. xoxo m

  • Radish
    Posted at 19:19h, 19 July Reply

    This is a wonderful piece. Very hopeful. Some of us have had these low times, and I think we have an obligation to be open to be helpful to others. Good writing.

  • Justine
    Posted at 20:23h, 19 July Reply

    Wow what a truly amazing story, so beautifully written. You should be so proud, I am so impressed!

  • Helen
    Posted at 20:44h, 19 July Reply

    A very powerful piece of writing – truly inspirational. My mum was treated for breast cancer 41/2 years ago – I think a fear is always with her and she just can't move on with her life…

  • Robyn
    Posted at 01:54h, 20 July Reply

    beautiful Cathy. Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration for all of us.

  • nancyjean
    Posted at 04:47h, 20 July Reply

    Oh Cathy…your post took my breath away…so powerful! you have lived such a strong, inspiring life!

  • Sherri B.
    Posted at 12:51h, 20 July Reply

    What an incredible post, filled with strength and courage. Your story is so moving and so inspiring – it brought tears to my eyes. I'm so glad you found your way back to yourself – thank you for sharing! (visiting from BTS class)

  • kristin
    Posted at 13:03h, 20 July Reply

    Oh Cathy this is amazing. so brave. i could feel your pain and you pulling away in your words. makes total sense that you would be pissed off! i was pissed off for you just reading this! i am so very glad to know you now, this creative beautiful spirit that you always were, rekindled and happy once more, but i am also honored by your story and your words you shared here today. getting to know this part of you is also so important. it makes up the beautiful whole. so thankful you are healthy and cancer free today. XOXO kristin

  • Amy Lee
    Posted at 12:54h, 23 July Reply

    This is stunning and moving. Sending you all such goodness and love!

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