Kathy Washburn

Age: Adult
Association: Survivor
Region: Somerville, Massachusetts
Cancer: Vulvar Cancer

"Honest conversation is crucial. Don't cover yourself under the veil of the trauma."

After surviving cancer, I expected and was expected to get back to normal.  However, I knew normal no longer existed. But for years I hid behind the veil of my trauma.  Feeling grateful to still be on this earth and watch my young sons grow into young men. I lived fully in every way outside – savoring my relationships and appreciating the beauty all around me.  Inside I felt disconnected to my body, my mind and my sexuality that was so exquisitely carved by cancer. And then my life shattered once again. My veil ripped away, as was the heavy cloaks I wore that covered me.  I stood naked. There was nothing left for me to do than to heal from the inside out. I chose the road less traveled assisted by divine intervention following the signs “Positive Psychology” and “Post Traumatic Growth”.  A magnificent journey of reconnection, among co-pilots that help me drive forward, fed with new found knowledge and understanding that I have the ability to change the neural structure of my brain, and that I am in control of my own happiness.  A very powerful road indeed.

My goodness, this map is far and wide.  The way I look at my support system is that I have ground crew and co-pilots.  My ground crew includes those family and friends that support and love me in unimaginable ways.  It also includes the ones that keep me together – the nurses, doctors, and therapists. And then along my path of post-traumatic growth, I discovered my co-pilots.  People that I met in my travels through positive psychology, discovering my new self. These are the people that see me in the light I wish to be in and they hold me in that place.  I could not fly without the help of both my ground crew AND my co-pilots.

Honest conversation is crucial.  Don’t cover yourself under the veil of the trauma.  You have changed inside. Your body has changed. Your sexuality has changed.  Find the ways to reconnect – it is the key to living fully, authentically, creatively on purpose!