Christi Nelson is a geographer, educator, mom and 3x breast cancer survivor from Castro Valley, California. She was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time on her 40th birthday in 2013 and has been NED since March of 2018. Each diagnosis required different treatment - and each treatment had different side effects - but there was one common theme through her recoveries: Nature was her inspiration. She used her science background to figure out what worked and coached herself all the way through each recovery using nature as a backdrop. Christi is a nature geek. The windows are always open in her house, and hiking is her excuse to heal and go on another adventure. She also loves bad puns, slapstick comedy and making theme songs about her cat Miss Hershey Kiss. When she’s not taking care of her teenage boys or hanging out with her hubby, Mike, she’s reading books, drinking coffee, listening to music or creating her Think Outside (the boob) Breast Cancer Recovery Program. You can learn more about Christi at www.thinkoutsidetheboob.com.
I’m not sure what it is, but only the weirdest of the weird ever approach me. It’s been like this for decades. Personally, I think I was pretty cute in my twenties, but I never got hit on by guys -- unless they were well over 65. Now I’m in treatment and homeless people sitting on the streets of Oakland will randomly chat it up with me or they’ll yell at me and tell me I’m too skinny.
Normal people tend to avoid me. I’m now even more unapproachable with my 5’10” physique and my stark baldness. But if they’re brave and they do decide to ask me a question, it’s always the very safe “How are you doing?”
Conversations I have about breast cancer are almost always with weird people (If you’ve had a convo with me about cancer, then yes you too are weird, and I bet you already knew that). They often take strange interest in my missing eyelashes or my new change in hair fashion.
The strangest one yet happened a couple of weeks ago when a Native American Shaman approached me. Oh, excuse me, she wasn’t just a Shaman, she was the world-renowned Shaman.
Let me start from the beginning. Mike and I were in the hospital cafeteria getting lunch. This was the day where I was feeling ridiculously ill but was determined to get my PET scan no matter what. I was sitting at the table with my head down when an older woman sitting near our table began to look at me. She had short gray hair in a “faux hawk” style. She wore Southwestern Aztec-looking jewelry. She seemed kind.
Then she began to speak. With her raspy smoker’s voice, she asked me if I was feeling OK. It was obvious at this point that a) I had cancer and b) I was totally not feeling okay. I told her I was having a rough day. She told me all about how she was the world renowned Native American Shaman and how she’d like to help heal me.
I’m a healing whore, so I said I’d take anything I could get. She stood behind me, put her hands over my eyes and said nothing for two minutes. Remember we were in a hospital cafeteria. Then she told me to follow the warmth in my body. When she was done, she asked, “Where do you feel the warmth”? I said, “In my diaphragm” (it’s true, I really felt it there). And coincidentally or not, she said, “Ahhh, yes. That’s where I sent all the healing energy. But only what your body can withstand. You’ll begin to start feeling better and better.”
Then she tried to do it to Mike, but that was a total joke and was going nowhere. So, she told us that her being in the hospital when we were there was more than just a coincidence. “I don’t go on the interweb and I don’t advertise. I only work with people I know, so it was meant to be that I’m here with you today.” Mm Hmm. I’m sure she wasn’t scouting for sick
people in the hospital. Positively sure of it.
You might be wondering what came of her world-renowned healing powers. Well, it turns out that my “heated diaphragm” turned into a 103-degree fever and an enlarged spleen. I was put in the ER 3 hours later.
Of course, we all know now that I was having an adverse reaction to one of my chemo drugs – my spleen was enlarged, and my bones were “on fire” in my PET scan results. But the joke will forever be on us. It was that Shaman.
Watch out, Shaman. Mike’s gonna kick your ass.