RETIREMENT COACHING – DEBBIE DRINKARD GROVUM– In May I celebrated the ten-year anniversary of my post-breast cancer life.  As I reflected on how thankful I felt to be alive and on my healing journey, I remembered three gifts that supported and strengthened me during the most difficult times of my recovery.  These gifts served as symbols of what sustained me.


After I was diagnosed in 2002, I read everything I could find about breast cancer treatment.  As I read about complementary medicine, the healing power of crystals kept appearing.  I wanted a crystal before I began my treatment, but I live in a small town and wasn’t able to find one before my surgeries.  A few weeks after my surgeries a friend gave me a rose quartz crystal on a silver chain.  She had no idea I wanted a crystal; she had gone in search of a gift that would support me and chose a crystal.

I put the crystal around my neck and never took it off until I completed chemotherapy six months later.  Wearing the crystal reminded me that healing forces were at work, helping rid my body of cancer.  The crystal was my symbol of healing.


I live near a number of Indian reservations and know that Native Americans believe eagles are good luck signs.  As I returned home from chemotherapy one day, tired and struggling to believe I would ever feel good again, an eagle flew directly over my car, arced and flew over again.  It was so close I could see its feathers.  Seeing the eagle filled me with energy and hope.  When doubts and fears intruded on my thoughts, I would remember the eagle flying over me and the rush of hope I experienced.  The eagle was my symbol of hope.


I was a runner before my diagnosis and tried to continue running on the good days between my chemotherapy.  On many days it was hard to put on my shoes and head out the door.  A friend told me about the Badwater Ultra-marathon, a 135-mile foot race through Death Valley.  Runners in this race face 120-degree heat, wild animals, 40-mph headwinds and lightening.  The next week he sent me a book written by a runner in the ultra-marathon who had never even attempted a half-marathon before running in this race.

In awe, I read about his experience and kept the book on my bed-side table so I would see it every time I put on my running clothes.  Although there were days I couldn’t run, I looked at the book every day and felt stronger.  The book was my symbol of strength.

On my last day of chemotherapy, the clasp on my crystal necklace broke.  The nurse fixed it, but it broke again.  When it broke the third time, the nurse told me she thought the crystal had done its job.  Now the crystal rests in a velvet pouch, and I take it out occasionally and remember the healing energy it gave me.

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