The Joy of Living Breastlessly — after mastectomies


heart-on-bodyFROM THE MOMENT OF diagnosis, the cancer center’s conveyer belt hurled me towards surgery, chemo, radiation, more surgery, and bad news. I mean, really bad news: rare, aggressive, advanced, no cure, recurs often, kills fast, no known follow-up treatment. Pathology reported more bad news: three kinds of cancer, surgery didn’t get it all, not a clear margin to the chest wall, triple negative. Newly identified as a breast cancer subtype, in 2006, it came to me with no treatment track record.

Each health practitioner was careful to not give false hope. The medical literature described research study results with words like “poor prognosis” and “bad outcomes.”

I reeled from one day to the next, shattered on so many levels. After the shock of the first double mastectomy, having to undergo a second mastectomy was…well…a shock. Who, besides me, has four mastectomies on two breasts?

The chemo plunged me so deep into a non-functional hole it’s a marvel I crawled out. The oncologist warned me that no one got through “dose dense” chemo on schedule. Most dose dense patients were hospitalized or blood transfused or too weakened to withstand another infusion.

Four months later, the oncologist said I was his first patient to finish on schedule. He credited my fitness level going into treatment. I credit energy work, with maybe an angel or two helping out.

I’d like to share two examples of how healing energy made me a chemo ace.

First, dose dense was such a corrosive cocktail that it had to be injected through a line or it would blow out the vein. The day before the first chemo infusion, two nurse specialists would insert the line from my forearm into my chest so my beating heart could circulate the drugs. They tried. The line stuck at my shoulder. There was no concealing the concern of the nurses as they bent over me in the hospital procedure room. A 20-minute insertion had taken almost an hour so far. From the bed, I asked to be included in their whispered consultation. Some kind of wrinkle bent the line into my neck each time they tried to guide it to my heart. I focused energy to smooth the wrinkle. The nurse pushed the line and it slid into place.

Secondly, like most others on chemo, my blood counts plummeted. The oncologist booked a transfusion instead of my fifth chemo. Blood, he said, goes only downwards without transfusions. I requested time to direct energy to my blood-producing marrow and repeat blood tests. My count came up enough for chemo as scheduled. He canceled the transfusion.

I got through brutal chemo side effects by mindfully directing energy where healing was needed. I’m endlessly grateful for a loving partner, supportive friends and family, disability insurance, and compassionate competent medical care. But, with no inhibiting drugs for the cancer subtype, surviving long-term is up to me.

Interlocking components summarize my ongoing survival strategies:

  • At the macro and outward levels, I use conflict competence to navigate through adversity and when I need to advocate or negotiate for resources to make me inhospitable to cancer.
  • At the micro and inward levels, energy healing directed to my immune systems keeps me in remission. Energy and angels keep me alive to apply those conflict competencies.

These two work together, where standard medicine has nothing more to offer. That’s okay, because both are available 24/7, no appointment necessary, with no side effects. They’ve gotten me back to health and happiness.

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Deborah Sword
Deborah Sword, an experienced conflict manager and coach, was unprepared for a deadly form of breast cancer and quadruple mastectomies. She used her skills in conflict competence and healing energies to get through, and now she blogs about the joys of breastlessness, and teaches the skills to cancer patients and survivors. Visit and


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