Cancer, the disease that brought her back to life

Cosmina Grigore. I could present her to you as she was before 2013, and as she is now. You may know her as she was before, since Cosmina had a sparkling career in Communication and Public Relations. She worked for British Embassy in Romania, Tarus Media, Oracle and for a lot of projects, until the Universe gave her a task of her own: to stay alive. Cosmina full-hearted believes that the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 2013 came to heal her of a death she had already metaphorically experienced.. And since not only the metastases can spread, but healing as well, from that moment on her entire family rolled over into a process of loving life, listening to the message that cancer came with. So you may also know Cosmina as she is now – nutritionist, patient coach, president of the Imunis Association, Pilates instructor but, most of all, lifestyle designer of her own existence. And of those people over whom Cosmina blows off a bit of her magic gifts.

When she was a little girl, Cosmina, whose name recalls of Cosmos, dreamt of dying somewhere in space, outside her planet, so she could get to know the Universe even more. And this wish to see beyond what her eyes could perceive seems to have followed her. She was that person who had the most outrageous ideas and she could never hide them. So most of her colleagues weren’t very thrilled with her, they had always something to work for, as a consequence of her creativity for which they weren’t prepared. Her little sister, tough, was fascinated and she kept on walking by Cosmina’s side everywhere, so she could learn from her.

Now and then along her timeline, Cosmina met people who seemed to hold the key to a new level of her becoming. A university teacher, an ambassador, bosses that she calls friends, pieces of a harmony-puzzle that was wisdomly prepared by faith, although the pieces didn’t seem to match to each other. “I grew up in the hospital, my mom was a nurse, my father a physician, so I’ve spent many nights there, I was basically the hospital’s kid. My desire to help people grew more and more and, many times, they would catch me next to an old man’s bed, ready to put him on a drip. They always came on time, I wasn’t doing any harm, but I felt this need of helping others, the same need I feel now. If I see someone who is suffering or is dealing with an injustice, my interior riot starts and I keep on thinking how to work it out”, Cosmina says. She would  have love to become a doctor, but she refused to go that way, because she hated to do as she was told to. Since her father was a physician and he would want Cosmina to follow his path, she chose another way: communication.

She was that type of person who, if you would kick out through the door, she would come back through the window and even create a new door, if there wasn’t any other way. When doctors told her that she will not be able to have children, because of her hormonal imbalance, Cosmina decided to try in vitro fertilization. She wanted to be a young mom and she was sure that one of her new work colleagues would be a great dad. “I told him, knowing that I couldn’t have children, that I would need to do in vitro fertilization and that I would like him to be the father of my children. He answered me back through a text message that we should first be together. I didn’t know he was into me and I didn’t know how much I was into him. And we started very technical. he was going to his sister in Scotland and he was coming back on 16th of august, so we decided to be together as soon as he would return”, Cosmina says. And they were and they still are.

A few months later, sad that she couldn’t have a baby, Cosmina wanted to share some Christmas gifts to the children that were growing at Valea Plopului. The priest that was taking care of the little ones told Cosmina and her husband that they were expecting a baby and that they should get ready. The ultrasound proved that to be right, so in less than a year, Cosmina and her husband, both 23 years old, were a family, being the parents of a baby girl.

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Back in 2013, the baby girl was 4 years old, and Cosmina and her husband were 28. Since her parents’ divorce all sort of changes took place and Cosmina felt like she was running out of air. The walk to the office suddenly seemed to be a highway to hell, she had given her best, until burnout. Her relationship with her husband was crumbling, there were pressures from the outside. Cosmina tried to figure out the direction she was going to walk further, of the following four months.

She had a pain that was ruining her existence and one day that pain became visible, when one of her breasts was looking different. “The first two doctors I went to told me that everything is fine, to relax. But my condition was worse and I went to another doctor, in the morning I got an X-ray and at noon she told me to come back for the mammography. I figured out something was wrong, but I wasn’t by far thinking at cancer, not even for a second, I didn’t think I could have something like this. She told me the diagnostic that was later confirmed by the sector resection, there was a carcinoma, almost stage II, with three invasive focuses”, Cosmina says.

Her first reaction was to get angry- for the first time she planned a holiday trip with her husband and now they were going to cancel it. She realised the severity of the situation only after she talked to her mother on the phone and she heard her crying out loud.

She suffered a mastectomy, 23 ganglia were removed one of them with a metastasis. The normal process would have been radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, but Cosmina followed only radiotherapy. One of her ex bosses and actual friend had just become a Health Coach and she helped Cosmina change her diet. Cosmina struggled to give up meat, dairy, cheese and eggs, suffering from withdrawal. She had instead a table full of all sorts of supplements and nutrients which she had never heard of and starting that moment they were going to help her recover. Lots of her symptoms got better and since Cosmina wouldn’t get any answers to some of her questions about chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, she consulted her doctor and she decided not to go further with them, even if many people told her that otherwise she will survive less than a year.

12985573_10208687743567258_2492476113829488310_nShe started reading, so she could understand her disease better. She thought that her cancer wasn’t there for nothing, it had a message for her. She understood that she had invested in that disease, by her chaotic schedule of working and sleeping, by exhaustion and by the lack of a relationship with her body. Even since her parents’ divorce, Cosmina had a lot of stuff to deal with that she didn’t know how to manage.

She expected that starting with her disease she will receive more attention and love, but her plans didn’t worked out as she thought they would, causing her even more suffering. So she found a way to blend the idealist part of her personality with the pragmatic one and she created a new ideal: to live. And to give herself the love she was expecting to receive from others. “The negotiation with God was like this: if You let me live, as long as you let me live I will find a way of being useful. At that time I had no clue how, at first I was a volunteer for children diagnosed with cancer, but I couldn’t do this anymore, I wasn’t strong enough”, Cosmina says.

The years 2013 and 2015 were full of interior battles, from wanting to be dead to fearing of dead and than loving life, but Cosmina’s hard times didn’t stop there. She was nearly having a divorce, her father was also diagnosed with cancer, a bowel cancer in the IVth stage, with hepatic metastasis and he would lose the fight three years later. Also, Cosmina broke her hip while she was rollerblading with her daughter. “I thought that if you get sick with cancer, you are granted for life, nothing serious happens to you again. And I realised that it wasn’t like that, no, cancer is one way ticket that you can use, but you still have to work for life. Breaking my hip got me to bed and feeling useless, so after many others lessons, I thought about the things that I could do while I was in bed and I started a website for patients with cancer, and I started writing”, Cosmina says.

Also, she was reached by a patient with cancer and step by step Cosmina gave up her job and became a nutritionist, patient coach, Pilates instructor and even a president of the Imunis Association that she founded with her family and friends. Through her Association she held for free the New Patient Caravan in more than 20 cities all over the country and she informed and supported the patients with cancer in their recovery process, creating a support group. To sustain her other activities, she organised immunity retreats and even a started school with different modules for patients, so she could teach them in detail about what she had learned from cancer.

Her new way of treating herself, being present in her life and loving herself taught her also how to deepen her relationship with her husband. Both of them realised that, no matter the pressures from the outside, they are the core that needs to stay altogether and from that moment on they are working consciously for their unity, allowing nothing from the outside to influence them. Years went by until Cosmina managed to look at her body and find it feminine, without crying, to look at her hair that grew longer again, and, instead of her missing breast, to look at her beating heart. She came back to herself and to those who were loving her, even if their language wasn’t always the same.

20150919_112814And, specific to her, she got to promote a new idea people weren’t ready for: cancer came to heal her. And she is more than happy that she was sick, as she is happy everyday for being alive. She knows that, even if her dad is gone, cancer brought healing in his life too, because in his last years of life he got back to his family. And the pieces of the puzzle seem to match now even more.

Cosmina writes her feelings down  in a diary ever since she was in the VIth grade. In a moment she had hard time she wrote down that, if she would suffer from cancer, she could die, and that seemed to be a solution to end the pain. She changed her note and, instead of looking at cancer as a solution to die, she end up seeing it as a solution to live, to love, to be alive. And she hopes that one day she will be able to go to Africa, to help the children who, sometimes, don’t have the chance to enjoy life for many years.

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This coverage is part of the #saniting project – “One step on the edge of life”. Any donation for building an emotional balance support center is welcome.