By Grey Arnau
Photography by Diandra Dellucci
Geri Mason starts her day off with a pot of coffee. While it brews, she prepares herself for the morning and then heads into her prayer closet with her first cup. A mother since age 16, she didn’t always have this personal time to reflect, especially after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30. Yet it was this major turning point that changed her life forever and created the atmosphere for her to rewrite the youth she missed out on as a young mother.
Finding power in a diagnosis
Through self-reflection and her positive mindset, Mason was able to surpass the looming question “Why me?” She said she remembered thinking to herself, “Well, who else would I want to give it to? So, why not me? The strength and power came from the realization that surviving this would mean that I am here for a reason.”
Sure enough, five years after her diagnosis, she went from preparing to die to preparing to live. She became pregnant with her second daughter, bought a house and found herself joyfully following a new path in life, soon transforming into someone who spends time writing, traveling, and speaking about the power of positivity.
Learning to write about personal experiences is something that has not only helped Mason but thousands of other people. To date, she has written five books, the second featuring advice and testimonies about the blessings that entered her life as a result of remaining confident and faithful. Peace in times of chaos is what defines strength—and it is what Mason fills the room with.
New thoughts on femininity
The feeling of wanting to be alone after a traumatic event is natural. Mason said, “After surviving breast cancer, I didn’t even want to think about dating again. I didn’t want to have that difficult conversation about cancer. It was something that I honestly dreaded for a long time.”
Since it affected her sense of self, Mason feared that the changes in her silhouette would also affect the way others perceived her. She was unsure of how, exactly, potential partners would react when confronted with the fact that her figure was different after receiving a lumpectomy.
This led to apprehensions about being in a relationship and feeling comfortable enough with her body to share it with someone else. To work around this doubt, Mason had to gently walk herself down the path to self-love. She described how, in the years that she was fiercely battling her cancer, there was no one there to guide her in how to begin to accept her new self —a breast cancer survivor. But she realized that if she couldn’t accept herself as the extraordinary and beautiful woman that she had become, then how could she expect others to?
In true Geri Mason fashion, she eventually came to realize that the breast that was slightly smaller due to the lumpectomy was actually more reactive to touch, and it was something she could find humor in with potential partners. Being able to laugh at yourself proves true courage, and Mason admitted, “today, I feel sexier and more beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my life.”
She’s independent, she’s sassy, she’s flirty…and she’s celibate. For 12 years, Mason has abstained from intercourse, a decision rooted in self-love and a redirection of her energy. She clarified that this is not based on religious beliefs, but rather an individualized decision for her life. She recounted enjoying relationships—even being married three times—but now, she has reached a milestone where she said she is “okay by herself even if a man never shows up again.”
Mason refuses to lower her standards to avoid being alone, and is empowered by the idea that future potential partners must rise to these standards. She is enjoying being in her own skin and doing what she loves most—that is, writing, traveling and speaking. “I still have limitations and guidelines for intimacy, just like any other relationship,” she pointed out. She loves calling the shots for her own life and respects the time allotted for her to be alone doing the things she loves.
Defining a Woman: Before and After Breast Cancer
Mason’s view of what exactly it means to be a woman has altered immensely over the past 30 years since surviving breast cancer. She admitted, “Before breast cancer, my definition of a woman was just the better half to a man. Someone who is set in place to balance out society,” She used to view a women as the product of a social construct, being constantly reminded how to be appropriate and suitable for a man.
Today, Mason now sees women as visionaries who are able to set the standard and make things happen, with or without a man involved. Referencing the feminist icon Beyonce Knowles Carter, Mason asked, “Who runs the world? Women do. They’ve just yet to realize it.”
To young women who are still on the road to realization, she said: “you do not need anyone or anything to validate YOU. As long as you keep your inner vision, you will be directed by the universe. You are a whole person, all by yourself.”
This is something that Geri Mason had to grasp on her own terms, so she would certainly know.