Reconstruction. Picture This.

My children love building bricks, building blocks and manipulatives.  They will painstakingly work on designing them according to the instructions to insure that they look exactly like the picture on the box.  When they get knocked over and shattered and pieces lost, after their anger and frustration, they go back to work.  With missing pieces, I’ve still seen them make great designs.  It may not look like the picture or the ideal image that they had, but it still looks good.

I have to continually make sure I keep this in mind.  Breast cancer and life reconstruction – physical, spiritual, financial – may not look like the picture I once had in my mind.  As I’m rebuilding, I haven’t always followed the “instructions”.  But, I’m still (re)building something phenomenal!

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Role Model in the Mirror

The road to healing from breast cancer has been full of potholes, detours and navigational challenges.  In these difficult moments, when a straight and uncomplicated path seems elusive, a response is often to seek a mentor, role model, celebrity whose narrative details their navigation from dark days to seeming paradise.

I’ve found myself looking for or renting movies that recount stories of survival, tenacity, resilience and courage.  They highlight the strength of someone I admire for their ability to, against the odds, persevere and prevail.  I’ve used this for motivation; watched the movie or read the books or the magazine article.  It’s fine to look outside for influences that can inspire and motivate us.  But, I know for sure that the most inspiring person with the most motivational story, the most compelling example of fortitude is you.  The role model you seek is the person looking at you in the mirror.

  • The young survivor who pursues her PhD all while managing recurrences and multiple new treatments; a message to breast cancer that you won’t erase my dreams.
  • The mother of two young children who trains and completes a marathon in the midst of treatment; a message to breast cancer that you won’t take my physical strength.
  • The woman who’s battled breast cancer and ovarian cancer multiple times, undergoes a multitude of physically challenging treatments but continues to travel nationally and internationally to advocate for legislation for breast cancer patients and increased funding for research; a message to breast cancer that even if you keep coming, I’ll keep going.
  • The young woman who takes “breaks” from chemo nausea to plan a magical and unforgettable birthday party for her daughter to maintain some normalcy for her young child; a message to breast cancer that you won’t destroy all of the treasured moments in my life.

Sometimes our strength is in simply getting up to face another breast cancer day.  THE FIGHT.  THE GRIT.  THE RESOLVE.  Even in the midst of their breast cancer battles, they fight for themselves and others, hold on to dreams and keep traveling down the road, regardless of potholes, detours and navigational challenges.  Some are your stories.  Some are my stories.  They are a potent reminder of the strength that we all have as breast cancer survivors; of the dogged determination that we draw from a well that may, at times, seem empty.  We push forward against and despite the odds.  The next time you need to be motivated and encouraged, reflect on your own incredible story, tap into your own fuel, step in front of and be uplifted by the role model in the mirror.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

Blizzard In My Life – The Aftermath (Companion to Periscope)

Today I started a series of Blizzard Chats on Periscope (  I live in the Washington, DC area where Blizzard 2016 dumped about 2 feet of snow on us.  The blizzard, great storm, reminded me of storms in my life; in particular the storm that was my triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2008.

One of the greatest challenges of my life was this storm and its aftermath; digging out and reconstructing.  I am a Reconstructionist™ – someone who’s been through the process of rebuilding and healing and continues to do so.  The process of rebuilding and healing, at some points, was unfathomable.  It was a hard realization that, after the storm, my life wouldn’t just return to normal without some work (a lot of work) on my part.  And, now I’m never pushing for normal in my life; I’m pushing for extraordinary.  It’s a serious undertaking and I learned that you can’t get to the business of digging out without getting your tools and resources together.

I’ll be expanding on my future Blizzard Chats on Periscope and blogs, but wanted to provide a few tips for starters.

  1. Get some inspirational music.  I have an aptly titled “Inspirational” playlist on my iPhone that includes all of my motivational music.  My “push” to keep digging out music.  The song that comes to mind immediately is Coming Out of the Dark by Gloria Estefan.  If you don’t have one already, start building your playlist.
  2. Get your inspirational movies lined up.  Cool Runnings, based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team, highlights the team’s perseverance in the face of the seemingly impossible.
  3. Build your unconditional support team.  This applies to family, friends, coworkers, church members. Only UNCONDITIONAL supporters gain entry.
  4. Gather some mantras, Bible verses and uplifting quotations.  I recommend starting with those that are four lines or less. They are easy to commit to memory and be recalled and recited several times a day.

If you’re like me and live in the path of Blizzard 2016, you may be slowed down from the hustle and bustle of life while many offices, schools, streets and buildings remain closed for the big dig out.  I hope that you’ll take this opportunity to use some downtime to start prepping for your big dig out of your storm and begin your own reconstruction.

I’ll be sharing more insights in the coming weeks on the blog and on Periscope.  Let’s reconstruct something extraordinary.

January 26, 2016

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.