Pocket Full of Sunshine

By: Michelle Lange 


(6 mins. read)

In September of 2022, while in the final stages of radiation oncology for the treatment of Stage III Breast Cancer, I recorded the following words, “Thank you, LIFE, for adorning me with such great gifts to grow into…”  As I look back on that statement, I am surprised at myself with the truth and wisdom those words hold.

To be adorned is to be loved in such a way that gifts are bestowed upon me. Gifts that will outlast my Coach handbag, Burger King employee of the month, my car, and any material things. These are priceless gifts that will outshine and will have a rate of return far greater than gold or silver. It will stand the test of time, and when shared in a story or discovered through the spoken word, the ripple will be long and wide over many years.

Let me share with you some of the gifts in words that I recorded.


“My bones are weary, my heart consoled, my soul refined – these are the hallmarks of my journey. I have seen myself  – nail-biting, lonely, loved, rejected, forgotten, lifted, remembered, and cherished in the deepest of ways.”07/09/2022 – Deep in the heart of chemo land.

REFLECT – moments to go inward, soulfully, see stuff, the big picture, vision, provide emotional hope, discover, find, relate, refine, awareness, and become open to.

“Chilean Biologist note, The moment of reflection is the moment when we become aware of that part of ourselves (- my add-in ‘or others’) that we cannot see in any other way.”

I opened a book that had been booked, marked by the book jacket sleeve. I glanced and stared at the pages. The words caught my glare in BOLD print. As I wrote what seemed to be inside of me, I found God’s hand in my moment. Steadily, letter by letter, more words jumped off the page, connecting to each other in a complete order, providing universal acknowledgment of what I was experiencing, anticipating, receiving, and seeing. Clearly the analogous to life that will help others without noise or clutter.”

What was it that I discovered that would help others – as I read the ensuing pages, I found hurried writing that expressed a mindfulness around questions that can create debris in our minds using an analogy that they can be like a kryptonite to weaken our capacity. It seems that we often find ourselves thinking about why, remaining in an endless loop that eventually creates the hardship of worry, not enough, and negativity. Words are powerful, and throughout my cancer journey, I came to know that and recorded my discovery of coping skills around that. Curious – I hope so because that is for another blog and another day.

The wisdom and vision for this blog is that despite a heavy challenge, I found a catalyst to receive greater wisdom and would zealously record them, not looking back but to rather creating a release valve to survive the emotional and mental landscape of cancer. I am 2.5 years past my initial diagnosis and have learned so much more.

Survivorship of cancer is learning how to find adaptation for your new normal. It is, as I learned recently, the “late effect” or “lasting effects” of the initial treatments of chemo and radiation. The effects have always been apparent and known; however, in the permanency of some effects, I am in the wake of a new wave, A wave that says, stay for a moment and don’t be afraid to feel your emotion around the news that my neuropathy is considered permanent. Nothing lasts forever, and the moment’s difficulty doesn’t have staying power. Who does? I do.

How do I continue to survive and create staying power for myself? First, I need to acknowledge where I have come from and what I have achieved. I have survived my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and treatment where fear showed up often, as did many questions. For example,

  • Would I be able to survive the treatment?
  • Will this treatment work, and what do I do if it doesn’t?
  • Where do I go if I cannot tolerate the medication?
  • Am I going to die?
  • Who will look after my daughter if I don’t get through this?
  • What if the cancer they find has spread elsewhere?

These questions seemed to fit in the puzzle, considering the events. Questions came when I was uncertain and curious, and there were unknowns. For me, it was a signal to go and discover the answers, be brave, be my own advocate, and ask the questions of the professionals, leaving no stone (question) unturned. Empowering my thought process with new learning alleviated the “what ifs.” Truly, the right kind of knowledge is power.

I have come to know that our emotions serve a purpose. Their purpose comes full circle when we are aware and discern the meaning behind what we feel and why. Greater comprehension has followed by making choices to support my mental and emotional wellbeing through talking to a therapist. Unfolding those moments over time, I discovered it was not just about cancer but the whole life picture where healing was needed. I wrote on October 8th, 2022, “Just like the very layers of skin peeling form by breast after radiation, so are the layers of my life.”  I expressed how I was not just healing from cancer but the ravages of an abusive marriage that I could barely acknowledge in a whisper I had experienced such. Letting go and seeking support by sharing my experience with someone I trusted would, in time, bring healing on a deeper level.

Healing comes in all shapes and sizes. The more I tended to my garden, the more I learned that deep down, I was afraid and fearful of not being enough, and having Cancer exacerbated that mindset. As much as cancer is a worthy opponent where fear can sneak in and parley itself to already abundant negative thoughts, know this … be in the moment of the emotion, acknowledge it, feel it, and experience it. Let it wash through you – you have staying power, it does not.

I discovered a new insight around fear, and I shared them with my therapist. In her words, I found that we can have a  “perfectly reasonable fear.” I was able to balance out myself and see the light by appreciating that it is reasonable to be afraid that I may not enjoy dancing the way I used to because of debilitating neuropathy in my feet; however, taking that into consideration, I can choose to adapt my style of dance so that my feet work.

Those paralyzing thoughts have no power when coupled with the vision of ‘perfectly reasonable.’ In other words, considering the circumstances we experience, it is plausible and logical for fear to be present in rational, sensible portions. The lasting effects happen when I recognize that I could anticipate certain thoughts and emotions are going to arrive. In this, I found comfort. I found hope.

Hope was found as I wrote, and looking back, I see much wisdom and growth. Survivorship of cancer is an ongoing conversation. There are times when I can learn from my past to see the signposts to show me that perhaps I am on a similar path or even the same road. These places will help me to attend to my emotions now, including fear, sadness, depression, joy, hope, and good cheer. When we value our past and acknowledge its place where learning is found, we can build a catalyst for future change that is strengthened by our experience. 

Let us close this moment with parting words that are now sands of time that bring wisdom.

The history to celebrate are the races in life that you won. – ANCHOR INTO IT

The moments to keep are those experiences that grew who you are now. – BE BRILLIANTLY YOU.

I am the speaker of my life with instinctive understanding, and I belong to myself first. I am perfectly flawed, just the way I am for me. I believe in ME – my own pocket of sunshine and goodness that deepens and grows in time – aged to perfection. (Michelle Lange, April 30, 2022)  

Michelle Lange
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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