(L to R) Kelly Ray, Me, Dana, and Suze being photo-bombed!)
If you are as old as me, you might recall the 1998 movie, “How Stella got her Groove Back”. It is the story of how a forty-something year old woman had gotten into a bit of a rut in her life. However, she managed to get her groove back by having a romantic fling with a much younger man. Well, let me tell ya, there is nothing like a battle with cancer to suck the groove right outta ya! To be honest however, I can’t completely blame cancer for the loss of my groove. I think it actually took a hike a number of years before cancer attacked me. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy and I certainly enjoyed my life. But due to the stresses of daily living, being a single mom and just plain getting older, I had lost my sense of playfulness…..my sexiness…..my OOOMPH! But guess what guys? Last weekend, Flo got her groove back! No, I did not bed a handsome young stud. Nor did I jet off to Tuscany on a wine-tasting tour. Believe it or not, I got MY groove back at a breast cancer retreat with a group of nearly 200 survivors, ranging in age from their early thirties to their eighties.
Before I tell the story of how I got my groove back, I will set the scene by introducing you to the old Flo. The old Flo, “Groovy Flo”, as I like to call her, loved to dance. And man could she shake her stuff on the dance floor! Not only could she dance, but she had this amazing ability to remember the lyrics to nearly every song she ever heard (a talent which her guitar playing boyfriend, Shawn really envies). So while she was grooving on the dance floor, she would also belt the tunes out of her as if she was some kind of rock star. It mattered not that she could not carry a tune, as she couldn’t be heard over the roar of the music anyway. But boy did she look cool using a beer bottle as a pretend microphone and throwing in a bit of air guitar at random intervals. Yeah, Groovy Flo could really rock, and rock she did nearly every weekend in her twenties and thirties.
Groovy Flo got a few curve balls thrown at her in her forties. Her relationships with men were just not working out (despite her sexy dance moves). Her youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Then to put the icing on the cake, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. That was the death of Groovy Flo. Then along came Spiritual Flo. You would like her. Spiritual Flo was really in to meditation, prayer, positive attitude, and trying to find the good in every person and every situation. Although Spiritual Flo did not EVER rock down (well, except for a few times in the hot tub with her favorite cuz, Lil), she was very much at peace and more content with her life than she had ever been.
Then, as fate would have it, Spiritual Flo went to a breast cancer retreat in May, 2013, where she hooked up with two amazing survivors: Judy and Suze.
(L to R) Me, Judy and Suze
The three had an instant connection, like three old souls who had been sisters in a previous life and were finally reunited. At the retreat, they were inseparable. So it goes to follow that the three of them wound up sitting together at the Saturday night survivor’s dance. Now let me tell you, you haven’t seen a place being rocked until you are in a room with nearly 200 breast cancer survivors, alcohol and loud music! But Spiritual Flo was feeling a little out of place. It had been at least six years since she had rocked it on the dance floor. Watching those women with their sexy moves really intimidated her. One was dancing burlesque for God’s sake! Finally, Suze and Judy enticed her to the dance floor (after a couple of glasses of courage). At first, she was a little stiff, but the more she danced, the better she moved. It turns out that Groovy Flo was not actually dead after all. She had just been sleeping for a few years, and despite the fact that she was 46 years old, she could still rock it on the dance floor.
Now you might think that a battle ensued between Groovy Flo and Spiritual Flo. After all, how could the two distinct personalities possibly inhabit the same body? But alas, the two personalities combined perfectly and melded to form a new Flo: a Flo who can meditate in the morning, and rock it down at night. I like to call this Flo, “Survivor Flo”.
There are not enough words in the world for me to express my gratitude to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), its coordinator, Paula Tessier, and the amazing committee who work so hard to put off this annual event. We, the participants, are in different stages of our healing journeys. Some are still going through treatments, while others are celebrating 50 or more years of survivorship! For most of us, our bodies have mended and our physical scars have healed. But many of us still carry with us deep emotional and mental wounds from our cancer journeys. While our bodies have healed, we still need to heal our fragile spirits. By coming together to laugh, to cry, to learn from each other, to sing a song with Dana, and to dance with wild abandon, we make great strides in healing our broken spirits. Again, thank you CBCF!
I like to call this one “7 women, 5 boobs between them”