Surviving Cancer - Planted Not Buried

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Guest blog from breast cancer survivor, founder of Love of Literacy, teacher, sister, mother and inspiration for us all - Katie Murray

Katie supported her cancer treatment with a number of lifestyle and nutritional practises to help her body heal itself. She documented her healing journey via instagram @1day_2019 and used writing and poetry as a way to help her mentally through that difficult time.

This guest blog is part of her reflection on that healing process. We hope it inspires and encourages you are much as it does us...

This is about the power of our thoughts to heal us - it explores the powerful relationship between my thoughts and Nature's cycles; I used the cycles of the earth to renew myself with hope and heal. Inspired by Spring!

“It is Spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke.

Planted, not buried.

After the brutal winter of chemotherapy, last Spring was almost a shock to see. I wasn’t ready for it; there was a hazy sense in my mind that Spring would not come. I had broken the cycle. But of course, that’s not possible. And I celebrate the earth for that. I remember the utter joy shocking pink as tulips emerged, with me. I’m just like you, I thought to the tulips. I was buried like you under the ground, invisible even to myself. But I was planted, not buried.

I remember last winter planting my bulbs in the cold soil. I remember the feeling of earth in between my fingers. The promise it held for me. I don’t remember what I wore - in the summer I love to garden in bare feet - I don’t remember if I felt the cold, the memory is a loving one, tinged with a yellow hue and there is a feeling of basking and having time but maybe that came from the fact that I was incanting time and Mother Nature, talking to my bulbs and the rugged earth while I laid them softly inside the small holes I dug with my fingers. I buried my bulbs and I planted my hopes in the winter ground. A chant in my head, I am planted not buried. Planted not buried. I remember distinctly feeling such comfort from my own thoughts, my words pure love. Honey for the heart.

I remember sitting amongst the blossom and feeling the same cycle, the push and the pull of the earth and the motion we all hum to. The little boys were outside, sat on the ground next to the pond, painting stones. I sat with them and felt for the first time since my cancer diagnosis that I was safe to be with them, in that I could enjoy their company and not be silently screeching through my own head. I don’t remember if I had words of comfort for myself. I hope I did. I am learning to give those words of comfort to myself now. I am grateful now. Hungry for my own love. My own words have become a life line; the rope, the heaving haul of self across stones and furrowed earth. I am planted, not buried. Planted not buried.

The bluebells are still to come. And the cherry blossom, and that is a comforting thought. The cherry blossoms and the tiny ornamental magnolia tree we uprooted from our neighbour’s garden to have as our wedding tree – they too wait for the comfort of spring to be well and truly underway before making their entrance. Closely followed by the majestic and gnarled lilac tree, which I have a real soft spot for. Mainly because I look at it through the little boys’ bedroom window and I am always my lightest self when I am in their room, getting lost in The Hobbit or picking up odd socks. Planted, not buried.

We sweep away winter’s debris and I hear the earth calling to my fingers, the thrum of readied earth, the relief that winter is behind us; woody bits of dead fall away easily. And it is a joy, really one of the highest joys, be here, to be here with you in our small garden waking up the earth, next to the unfurling fern, with nothing in my hands but gratitude and dirt – it is the highest joy. There’s palpable relief within the scattering of warm leaves now. The garden breathes deeper. And I want to too. With you here with me in the garden, there is nothing in between my fingers but love and the warm dark earth. And I hear it on the breeze, we are planted, not buried.

Katie Murray

Founder of Love of Literacy

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