Outgrowing a dress–and an identity

My deep purple gown with its sparkling bodice and flowing skirt wants to leave home. Or rather I’m ready for it to depart. It marked an important occasion eleven years ago–the completion of six months of chemotherapy. My friends and I¬†celebrated by going to the Des Moines Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Concert and partying afterwards until the early morning hours. My dress and I made an important statement: treatment for breast cancer would not sap my ability to savor music, merriment or memories.

Whether I would indeed survive breast cancer was an unknown then. ¬†Nonetheless, I claimed the term “survivor” as a badge of courage. In my first Komen Race for the Cure, I proudly walked as one among many.

Yet labels can be limiting and with my life history, I can identify many things I have survived–spina bifida, a failed first marriage, and an unsuccessful campaign for the Iowa Senate to name a few. These experiences made me stronger. Today I consider myself resilient, wise and peaceful.

So this lovely dress served its purpose, as did the label I embraced early on. In honor of all women now undergoing treatment for cancer, ¬†I let this dress go, delivering it to Beacon of Life’s resale shop. May all women with cancer have the opportunity accorded me to one day reflect on their experience with peaceful hearts.


Deb and I will blog during the next couple of months on what we are letting go of each day. We’ll look at what’s getting in our way, what no longer serves us, what we no longer need. What are you ready to let go of? Materials things? Behaviors or beliefs? We’d love to hear from you!



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