This week, Alana Kessler, founder of Sangha Yoga Shala in Brooklyn, NY, is sharing her story with us. Read on and learn why It’s Personal for Alana.
When I was asked to share a personal story about my relationship with breast cancer, I have to admit I was nervous. Though breast cancer has been the whisper in the soundtrack of my life for as long as I can remember, I have never actually expressed through language how this disease has shaped my life. Thank you for helping me to find my words…
It’s an interesting thing to think that in 1984, when my grandmother – my mother’s mother, passed away from breast cancer. She was 57 years old and my mother was 30, the same I am now. This reality has not been lost on us while we reflect together on how different this age represents for both of us personally. At 30, my mom had 2 kids, was married and building a home for her family all while caring for her newly widowed father and healing from her own loss and devastation in losing her mother at such a formidable age. My 30th year found me not without responsibility and personal pain, but such is appropriate and I could always find comfort in the support of my mom if need be.
I didn’t always appreciate this gift – of having a mom who is present, accessible, interested and alive. As a teenager and young adult, I had a more tumultuous relationship with my mom, and at times felt misunderstood and unsupported.
Not to say that my feelings weren’t valid at times, and as I continued to grow and develop into my own individual – conflicts, disappointments, and unmet expectations became inevitable in our relationship.
I was so young when my grandmother died, merely three and a half years old. My mom would share stories of how much my grandmother loved to sing Annie songs with me and have me brush her hair. She would grow nostalgic as she relayed stories of how my grandmother would show me off in front of her friends at the pool in the summertime, and my speech, which sounded more like a tween than a toddler would have them laughing for hours. I love hearing these tales and imagining the love I was not able to experience as a consequence of the cancer.
But I am grateful. Breast cancer gifted me with empathy, compassion and perspective. Even though a person leaves this world physically, their love stays in the vibration, waiting for the opportunity to be reclaimed. My grandmother’s love lives on in the unconditional love my mom and I now share as adults. And now at the ages we both were when she passed, her love and memory will live on in us for the rest of our lives.
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