Today, I wore the pearls I bought on my dive trip to the Philippines last month as a Mother’s Day gift for my step-mother. (It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t bear to part with them, but I discovered that she already has an expensive set, and I figured that receiving these as a gift from me would have been a huge step down from the strand she already has …)
The street vendor had been insistent and, to be honest, I wasn’t especially keen. But my disinterest only fuelled his determination and somehow as he shadowed me along the narrow, cobbled streets of Puerto Galera, we managed to agree on a price. Besides, the necklace, bracelet and earring set was pink, and like me, pearls have a strong affinity with the ocean, making the purchase from the desperate street-seller all the more difficult to refuse.
So today after managing to pull myself out of bed at 10am, I donned my new set of pearls for the first time. Lately I have found mornings to be more difficult than I would have liked. Until recently, I have been travelling fairly well with my health, refusing radiation and chemotherapy and relying on organic food, carrot juice and as much diving as my body can handle to get my health back on track. I have also reduced stress in my life by arranging with my employer to work part-time.
Like scuba diving, work has always been a passion for me, but after being diagnosed with cancer – again – last year, I have needed to make regaining and sustaining my health a top priority. After many months away last year, returning to work has felt like a slow restoration of my soul. Some days I would love nothing more than to return to work full-time; other days, I struggle and wonder whether I have truly taken on too much too soon.
This morning I felt very unwell, but that string of pearls around my neck somehow made me feel ready to face the world. And all day my colleagues went out of their way to comment on how well I looked! They usually do when I wear pink, which to be honest is more often than not. Cancer is a strange illness. Most days, if I didn’t tell anyone, I’m sure those whose paths I cross would never know what my journey has been and continues to be. But a tumour grows slowly inside the body, hidden like a pearl still growing inside its shell.
That may seem a strange comparison – comparing a tumour to a pearl. But in reality, I have learned some valuable lessons from my illness over the past four years that I could never have learned any other way. There has been much suffering, but pearls are the result of irritation and gold is refined by fire. I firmly believe that the changes I have made in my life can help me to reclaim my health, and that every day will yield its pearl of wisdom to those who are willing to learn from it rather than succumb.
So today I dragged myself from my bed and fastened a cheap string of pink pearls around my neck, ready to face whatever the day would bring. I am learning to take one day at a time. And I am slowly coming to understand that each day is a pearl that I must wear with love and gratitude, whatever challenges may come. To me, every pearl is a blessing that I must remember to count.
Love and bubbles,