“I’m interested in time travel and have always loved movies like Back to the Future which explore the concept of how we might act if we know what would be in the future. So what would happen if I went back one year and told myself everything that was going to unfold over the next twelve months? Her mind would be blown.”
Rebecca Batterman was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty four. Young, active and healthy, like most people, she never imagined this would happen to her. During her first few weeks of treatment, Rebecca spoke with CUUP about moving into the unknown with open arms.
Six months later, Rebecca was looking forward to putting all the treatments and surgery behind her. Just then, pandemic lock-downs went into place across the country and Rebecca was faced with another bout of unprecedented isolation and an opportunity to look inward. Checking back in with BodyTalk, she shared 10 lessons she learned from her journey, to help us all re-frame moments of change.
REBECCA WEARS THE SCOOP IN MOSS
One year later, the world continues to present a cascade of unknowns to all of us. Rebecca, however, continues to remain curious about change and trusting in the resilience of our bodies and spirits.
“The thing about life is that we never know what is going to happen – and the moments we least expect are the moments that can often become the most pivotal. I’ve learned that the breaks and cracks in our lives, which can seem negative in the moment, are actually what lets the light in.”
“Would I go back a year and tell myself what happens? Maybe not. I might instead say: ‘Look, whatever happens, trust yourself, you’re resilient, you will be okay. Look at the unknown as an adventure.’”
While Rebecca may be fascinated with the idea of travelling back in time, she’s a strong advocate of living in the present, while spending her days wondering about the future. Rebecca is an innovation strategy consultant and studying to receive a master’s degree in law, with a focus on emerging tech and innovation.
She’s adeptly balancing what would be a lot for anyone – while also healing her body. COVID-19 quarantine, therefore, became an unexpected invitation to take the extra time she didn’t know she needed, but is so grateful for.
“We are all conditioned to go, go, go – especially those of us who have lived in cities like New York or Los Angeles. Slowing down was a challenge for me last fall, as I navigated treatment and was experiencing my own version of quarantine, before the rest of society was. My plan going into 2020 was to catch up on what I saw as lost time. Feet on the ground, let’s go, let’s do this. I now realize there’s no such thing as lost time. Everything we experience impacts us and guides us forward.”
“In the spring, the universe had other plans – for me and for everyone else. It said to me, ‘No, you are not going to jump back in. In fact, we’re going to slow things down even more than what you were just experiencing.’ I experienced treatment quarantine and COVID-19 quarantine back to back. There were about five weeks in between the two.”
“Many of the things that everyone else was experiencing for the first time in March, emotionally and physically, I had already experienced. So, in a way, I was able to relax into the moment the second time around and ask myself, ‘What do I need right now?’
REBECCA WEARS THE SCOOP IN MOSS
“What my body was asking for was not acceleration, but a chance to slow down and continue to heal. If society had been at full speed, I might not have realized I needed an extra five months to do so. I would have missed the messages and dove back in. I think that’s a great lesson for us all. To listen to what our body needs and create space for it.”
“In the past, I thought ‘healing’ was a specific period of time between ‘before’ and ‘after.’ In the ‘before,’ you don’t need to heal. Then, something happens that requires a finite time to heal. In the ‘after,’ you’re healed and you move onto the next thing. But that’s not at all true. That’s not true about physical healing, or emotional healing, or heartbreak, or loss. Healing is an ongoing journey. The intensity and necessity of healing definitely changes based on your circumstance, but we are all always healing parts of ourselves, because we’re all always changing.”
“I like learning about newness, examining change, and observing evolution. I usually prefer this to be on my own terms, but we don’t always have a choice in when change happens or what it looks like. In fact, we usually don’t. But through all this change, my body really surprised myself with its strength and I’m grateful for it every step of the way. Even though there were tradeoffs at different points, that was the process my body needed to heal.”
“A beautiful thing about bodies is that they will tell you exactly what they need – physically, emotionally, mentally. It’s important to stay connected to your body, so that when your body is sending these messages, you hear them and can act on them. I hope anyone reading this gives yourself permission to listen to your body and trust that it’s telling you what it needs, even if your brain or others think otherwise.”
REBECCA WEARS THE SCOOP IN ESPRESSO
“My body was with me the whole time, constantly surprising me with its strength and perseverance. So, my healing process has been less about returning “back” to a particular version of my body – and more about getting back to my true self. I’ve noticed myself returning to an authentic, child-like version of who I really am. As we grow into adulthood, we have experiences that shape and stretch us. Some we internalize, others we suppress. When we do this, we're suppressing the natural light of who we are supposed to be. This crack has allowed my life to open up and let my true self shine.”
Some of the biggest taboos in our society are also the conversations we suppress the most – around diagnoses, desires, and mortality. Rebecca is learning that direct, vulnerable conversation around these oft-skirted topics not only frees her to live authentically, but invites others to to join in the lifelong act of healing – be that our health, our hearts, or our bodies.
“Over the past year, I’ve realized how strong our voice can be for others when we simply share a personal experience, share our fears, share what we want and need. I’ve been open about what I’ve been through, in hopes that it guides others in their journey and pulls some of these taboo topics out into the open. No one should navigate life and its experiences in a silo especially when we’re all at one point or another experiencing a lot of the same things. For me, being faced with even a brief sense of mortality, has allowed me to take inventory of my life and design the life I want to live. I think many others are experiencing similar feelings through COVID, assessing what is important for them, and removing what no longer works.”
REBECCA WEARS THE SCOOP IN MOSS
“Fortunately, there’s a shift happening. More open conversations are happening around what we want and what we fear. Normalizing these conversations and experiences, and shining a light on these topics, actually allows us to live more fully and more truly. Why would you want to live any other way?”
Interview and Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam.