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Kokopelli Story

Kokopelli Story.

I found the lump in my right breast in February of 1998, but I wasn't really concerned. I had been doing self-examinations for 10 years, so I knew that my breasts had a tendency to be lumpy.

After a menstrual cycle, the lumps would disappear, and life was good. My mom had 2 occurrences of breast cancer 6 years apart, and a final recurrence of metastatic breast cancer in her brain which led to her death in May of 1993. Knowing that a family history is a strong predictor of cancer, I was real careful to do my monthly exams.

When the lump was still there in March, harder and larger, I called my OB/GYN and told her I needed to see her ASAP. I watched her face as she felt the lump, and knew that it wasn't a good thing. That was April 1st. No joke. Mammograms, ultrasound, tests, meeting a surgeon, all squeezed into 2 days. The biopsy on April 9th confirmed that I had cancer. I had a double mastectomy the following week. (Two weeks later, I played golf.)

I got a tatu after two of my friends, also cancer survivors, told me how spiritual and moving their experience had been. When I began to think of it as a step in my healing journey, it made sense. For ages, the act of getting a tatu or ritual scarring was a manifestation of having reached a special state of maturity. Certainly my cancer experience had changed my life in ways I had never imagined before. I chose a design for my tatu which was symbolic of two great forces in my life. My mother had been fascinated by the Anasazi tribe of Native Americans, and had made several trips to their ancestral land in the Southwest. Her ashes were scattered in Chaco Canyon, the center of the Anasazi culture. The figure of Kokopelli was important to the Anasazi as a healer and the bringer of abundance. I chose to include Kokopelli as a tribute to my mother. The sun was a central theme in the visualizations I used to help me through chemotherapy and tests, and I would think of its warmth and healing power. The compass points in the sun's rays represent the new direction my life has taken since my diagnosis. And the colors of my tatu are bright and vibrant. Joyful.

I look at myself in the mirror now and see a reminder of how far I have come since my diagnosis. I see the strength and courage and beauty I have found, and it makes the pain seem farther away with each passing day. I don't focus on my two mastectomy scars, but rather on my tatu.

It makes me feel whole.

Saint Michael by Cindy R

St. Michael.

My life journey has led me here
To this bed of stitches
of tubes and pain and blood.
My hand flutters constantly
To this flat plane
I have not felt since childhood.
Here once lived my breast.
Used to feed my children,
Comfort and cradle my loved one,
Treacherous, you almost killed me.
You, the giver of life and love!

My new body is branded
Into the fierce tribe of women
To whom now I belong.
Where is this place I am going?
A den of women,
Of Runes and warriors.
Blue birds are flying above me!
Pain and incense and
Indio girls.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Van Gogh pays us a little visit:
Kore sings me a lullaby,
Paula holds my hand.

St Michael,
We invoke him and he is there!
Do you hear him? I hear him!
He protects me now,
His hand guides her hand
And His hair so like my hair,
The tips of his wings my talisman.
I am rich. My soul is full.
St. Michael
My hand rests upon you now,
Your sword the new power
In my blood.