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A diagnosis can pull us out by the roots

Last summer my pink miniature hibiscus started to outgrow its pot so I decided to risk planting it in the garden with the lemon tree and some other shrubs for company.

The hibiscus had been a feature on my deck for years, flowering prolifically, a real companion of sorts, so uprooting it was something I thought long and hard about.

It was quite an ordeal, removing the poor thing from its pot. Much of its root ball and soil was lost in the process so it was with a heavy heart that I transplanted it into the garden with as much fertilizer and other helpful nutrients as I could.

Wow, that poor mate stood there bedraggled and sad for ages. I’d go out and talk to it quite often, and my next door neighbour's cats liked sitting under it, just hanging out there in the garden.

Over time, I noticed the pale yellow leaves were dropping off and some new, robust and healthy green ones were sprouting and then, one day I looked out the window and saw a beautiful pink flower had opened up. Closer inspection revealed numerous buds waiting to burst out.

Such resilience draws parallels for me with breast cancer. A diagnosis can pull us out by our roots, take us away from our everyday environment. Life as we know it has changed. We’re transplanted into an unfamiliar place of high emotion and anxiety, surrounded by medical terms we’ve never heard before and doctors we never thought we’d ever see, feeling lost and alone.

But then, over time, those roots take hold again, we make a new place for ourselves. To say that we then ‘blossom forth’ might be a bit too poetic, but we do our best to flourish again and make the most of life and a ‘new normal’.

“I have become strong and resilient, as is the case of almost every human being exposed to life and to the world. We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.” Isabel Allende (author)

Jane Bissell is an Auckland-based writer and author of 'Welcome to the Amazon Club'.