Day 10: Guilt

When you know someone that has a terrible illness and think about what they’ve been feeling, would you identify guilt as one of those emotions? During my breast cancer journey, I felt guilt about what everyone else had to sacrifice or did for me. It’s nice being the center of attention when you’ve accomplished something good or when you’re celebrating a special day, but when you need a ride to your appointments, ask someone to sit with you, need them to cook, clean and take care of extra responsibilities, that’s not the kind of attention you’d wish for.

In many ways, guilt was the flipside of gratitude. I appreciated every little itty bitty thing that someone did for me. At the same time, I resented that they had to do it because my treatments made me weak and needy. It was self-induced guilt. I didn’t do anything bad or wrong that warranted my guilt. It simply happened.

Here’s a grand guilt-inducing example. Jeff loves traveling internationally. He’s been to South Korea, China, Peru, Scotland, Morocco and Australia. He travels for work, presenting at conferences and universities, and the presentations are included in his body of work for his job as a professor. After giving the presentations, he takes time to explore, meet people and enjoy new places. I’m not much of a world traveler, so I’m glad he has these opportunities. When I had cancer, Jeff gave up his travel for a year to help me and be with me. He missed getting credit on his vitae for the work he would have done. He spent less time doing many things that he enjoys and would have done if I’d been healthy in 2016. It made me sad that I made him alter his life so much. I felt guilty.

I know that Jeff has no regrets; it’s silly to think that. I’d do the same for him, except I’d be giving up going to craft shows, shopping for clothes, and lunch with friends rather than flying to exotic lands. I felt the same guilt about whatever nice things my sons did for me, like grocery shopping, helping with meals, or being my chauffeur. I loved the meals friends dropped off, yet I felt badly that they went through trouble for me. You get the picture: I’m a person who can carry a lot of guilt.

It’s hard to accept help, to admit that you need it, to realize you can’t do things yourself. Pride gets in the way, along with embarrassment. It’s important to push past the negative feelings and feel lots of love and gratitude. Likely, you’ve helped other people and will again in the future. It’s just your turn.

If you have cancer or another serious illness and are in need in of help, someone will step up and give you a hand. Sometimes, family and friends know you can’t cope alone, and they’re ready on day 1 to support you. Other times, people don’t know your needs. You have to work up the courage to ask for help. It’s okay to ask. There’s no shame in needing help, and, if you’re a more self-assured person than me, no guilt.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 9: Compassion

I don’t know where I’d rate on a scale for compassion. Sometimes, I’m so caught up in my own world and family that I don’t see other peoples’ hurt. I wish I did, and I’m working on it. As I went through my cancer battle and appreciated everyone’s kindness, I was exposed to more people in pain than ever before. I made a leap in compassion through my breast cancer journey.

Being compassionate first takes recognition of another person’s suffering. Beyond awareness, you should attempt to understand it at least at a basic level. You can feel compassion and then you can act compassionately, the full expression of the emotion.

Pain can be caused by many events, characteristics, and conditions in life. Having a horrible disease is just one of them, but it’s my frame of reference. During my journey, I met quite a few people, mostly women, with cancer. Some I met in the treatment room and many through a nonprofit organization, Compassion That Compels. In addition to meeting people with cancer, I’d also found out about others I already knew that had experienced the disease.

Here’s a little story to show how my sense of recognition came awake. A year or so ago, Jeff and I stopped to eat at a local restaurant in a little town. We enjoy doing this. A mother and older teenage daughter came in and sat at the table next to us. You could do that in those days! The girl wore a headscarf like what I had worn. The unaware, old Denise would have seen someone with a headscarf or bald head and thought, why are they making that awful fashion statement? On that day, I recognized someone in treatment.

Recognition of suffering is good, but not enough for compassion. You must try to understand and feel something for the person. Concerning the girl in the scarf, all I could think of was how terrible it was for her to go through cancer so young. The disease, treatments, hair loss, and whatever else she was experiencing. My heart hurt for her and her mother, who I’m sure shared in the pain.

Real compassion involves action. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture as it was with CTC when we delivered wonderful gifts and prayers to women in treatment. The restaurant scene was a small gesture moment. I decided to simply be friendly. Fortunately, Jeff was friendly that day, too (wink wink). We smiled and talked to our table neighbors, and the mother mentioned about her daughter’s cancer. I told her that I recognized the signs, and I talked to the girl about how I’d been through breast cancer and was doing well. I said positive things about her life ahead to try to cheer her heart.

I have more stories, such as talking to an older couple while she was getting treatment. He got called away, and she broke down, telling me that he had terminal cancer and wouldn’t live long. I sat for an extra time after my treatment to listen to her until he returned. It was 30 minutes of my life with a woman who grasped my hand and desperately needed it.

Any of us can practice compassion. Instead of judging someone, as is a bad habit of mine, consider what might be going on with them. Even if you’re going through the disease, you can develop compassion and show it to others. Look for moments to support someone else, to show a smile, talk with the person, or to help them in a big way. Compassion will lighten your heart and make you feel love in a new way.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 8: Sadness

When you or someone you care about has a serious illness, sadness is inevitable. All the feelings that pop up settle into your chest, into your heart. You’re forced to figure out what to do with all that emotion, and it often leads to sadness.

I felt sad about my breast cancer situation and about what the future held. I experienced sorrow for what was changing in life and how it affected my family. After treatments, I was very weak and sick, leading to a sad day or three. For one event, my sadness culminated, and I felt the full force of its blow.

When I learned I needed chemo, I figured I’d lose my hair. My oncologist confirmed it, saying that the combo of drugs I’d receive would cause complete hair loss after the second treatment. I took a few deep breaths after that. I needed an action plan.

To help me prepare, I wanted a wig. Honestly, some women look pretty without hair and are bold enough for that, but not me. (On later reflection, I looked like my dad!) I found a wig place in a nearby town, had a fitting, and ordered a $300+ wig to match my hairstyle and color. It was a strange process but I felt compelled to go through it.

Next, I got my haircut shorter than usual. I thought it might soften the blow to lose shorter hair. It made me a little sad, and the stylist and I talked through tears. My mom said how much she liked my new style. She was sweet.

My first chemotherapy session was on January 27, 2016. As the days went on, if I ran my hands over my hair, small clumps came out. Every day, there it was, in the sink, on my clothes, and on my pillow. It was hard to see it happen, little by little. I was always fretting over it.

After my second treatment and much deliberation, I said, “Jeff, shave my head!” My hair was going to be gone soon anyway. He was more than willing, of course!!! The power I put in his hands … not really. It was a heavy responsibility for him because it was my choice, and I had asked for it. Still, it threw me into a great deal of sadness.

As Jeff shaved, I cried. The hair fell on the floor, I cried. I was shaking with grief. It was so hard to take. I saw myself in the mirror, and, well, you know already. I didn’t want to accept it, but it was the right thing to do. Why was hair so important compared to lifesaving treatment? All the weeks and months of emotional events bubbled up like a volcano of sadness. I let it flow out, my tears were my lava.

Within the next day or so, I accepted life as a baldie. People had started to send hats and headscarves, and I’d wear one each day. I joked with my boys that I looked like famous bald people like Uncle Fester. I posted on Facebook and we laughed some more. I giggled over being bald. I can’t ever say I liked being bald or without eyebrows and lashes but I made light of it and found ways to deal with my appearance. I was going to be okay with this!

Remember about that wig? I never wore it. I don’t know why. I took to headscarves, mostly. The expensive wig is in my closet, acting as a talisman, some odd form of protection from recurrence, and I can’t get rid of it.

If you’re facing a disease or sad situation, acknowledge your emotions. Feel the sadness, it’s okay. Cry. Talk it out, or do whatever you need for release. Just don’t let it turn into a full-blown state of depression, a well you can’t climb out of. Get support from friends or family members. Talk to a counselor, if needed, to put your sadness in proper perspective. Up on the surface, there’s still life to live and moments to enjoy. I don’t want you to miss any of them.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 7: Gratitude

If you’ve read all my posts so far, thank you! The posts, like the subject, have been pretty heavy. You might be surprised to know that not every moment of every day was sad or filled with a negative emotion. Starting early on, I experienced a lot of gratitude.

You might wonder what I was grateful for, considering my situation. Most of my gratitude, quite simply, was for people and their support and actions. You may be in that number! If you said even one kind word on Facebook, then I was grateful, and in reflection, I still am.

My gratitude first and foremost was to Jeff and my boys, Jared and Tristan. Jeff was always there for me. He went to 99% of my appointments for doctors, tests, treatments, and even one blood transfusion. Jeff helped with cooking, cleaning, managing the dog, medicine, shopping, checking on me endless times, and keeping the house quiet as needed. He even shaved my head! He gave endless amounts of emotional support. There’s no way I could ever show enough gratitude or love to him.

Tristan was home during the whole experience, a busy high school senior. He helped a lot, too, with the house, the dog and food. He’d check on me a lot. Jared did the same when he was home on winter break and in summer. Both had to experience me crying and bald. They made me laugh with a lot of success! I’m so glad they have their dad’s strength. Their love propelled me through.

My extended family was there to cheer me on with countless calls and messages and sent some very touching gifts. My two closest friends in Denton brought me lunch often and talked with me, a wonderful diversion. Others invited me out when I felt good. It all meant so much, making both my bad and good days better!

Unexpectedly, people I knew from various situations, mostly as school, sport, church, or Scout parents, reached out in various ways. I received beautiful gifts containing hats, scarfs, and mementos. I received quite a few dinners for our family as people dropped by home cooked meals or restaurant food. It made life so much easier to have ready-made meals! I was so thankful and felt blessed.

A few Facebook friends reached out to me with their own cancer stories. I hadn’t known of their experiences and it made me feel less alone and able to ask a few questions from those with shared experiences. One special gift came from a pink sister I’d never met and it connected me to her and to a nonprofit group for women with cancer. She and the group were great resources for body, mind and soul.

I prayed during my illness, asked “why me” and thanked the Lord for all the love I experienced. I appreciated every kindness shown toward me, making life cancer and treatment bearable. It was truly an amazing experience, and brought me much happiness at a difficult time. Thank you, one and all.

Lastly, I am so grateful for the wonderful doctors, nurses, and all the medical personnel and their support people for getting me through this process. They provided the best medical treatment and showed a lot of kindness.

If you’re going through a cancer journey or another difficult time, don’t forget to notice all the small and large gestures people make to help you, to comfort you, and to show you they care. I was often surprised and always touched and cheered. It would have been easy to wallow in pain and sadness and not notice the good. In the long run, it made me appreciate people more and encourage me to show more kindness toward others. I encourage you to do the same.

P.S. I’ve been trying to keep these under or around 500 words. If the one of them had to exceed that number, I’m glad it was this one on my gratitude!

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 6: Anxiety

I woke up this morning to thoughts on how yesterday’s post didn’t do justice to the concept of fear. Fear can be debilitating. It can stop you in your tracks. It can paralyze you. It can block you from feeling other things. Untempered fear can keep you from living the wonder of life, no matter its length.

This morning’s thoughts about fear led to musings on today’s topic, anxiety. I read a quote yesterday, “The artist doesn’t create to express herself; she creates to discover herself.” (Steven Pressfield via Jeff Goins) Bingo! I’m discovering a lot about myself by looking back and writing about it.

Fear created a long-term, simmering worry for me. I was afraid of what my body and emotional state could handle. I feared the changes chemo and radiation would make in me, whether they would work, or if the cancer would return anyway. In specific situations, I felt more of what I’d called anxiety. I was so afraid of what was happening at that moment that I’d couldn’t handle it. My stomach felt sick. I was shaky and cried. I certainly wanted to run in the other direction of whatever was causing the full-blown panic attack.

Some anxiety is easy to run from. When my family visited the Grand Canyon, the anxiety height brought on was counteracted by not going close to the ledge and not standing too close to my guys who would bump me toward it to be funny! Some anxiety you just deal with, like a botched oral surgery when I cried and shook and couldn’t continue for a while. I had to find a way to keep going.

My worst anxiety attacks during my breast cancer journey came during my first few chemo treatments. On my first day, the area around my port was still very tender. The chemo nurses couldn’t easily get the IV needle inside. There were some very painful pokes and prods. My mind was freaking out, and I started to cry. I had come in so nervous about the treatment and now this. I couldn’t change it. 2-3 nurses and maybe 15 minutes later, someone made the port connection.

Next, steroids in. Restless legs with the Benadryl – not helpful! I settled a bit for the first chemo drug, then out came the Red Devil, the first time I was seeing it. I wanted to scream, “NO! STOP!” It was delivered quickly, so that made it easier. Then I had about 30 minutes of fluids-time to settle.

The nurses tried to be comforting and reassuring. It became a nervous joke among us, who gets Denise. One time, I went to another treatment center, and the new nurse was not gentle. I had my worst anxiety attack, my biggest breakdown. Jeff held my hand through most of it because I couldn’t stop that heavy sobbing, couldn’t get control of my emotions.

My port problem – most people don’t go through that. But people experience anxiety for other reasons. I saw a young girl refuse treatment; she couldn’t go through it. She had just moved here after graduating from high school and probably felt so scared and alone. Her mom wouldn’t stay in the treatment room. She got through it at some point, just as I did, and carried on.

My biggest advice is to look for things that might help you. The nurses asked the oncologist to order a lidocaine numbing cream and a longer needle. I asked for anti-anxiety meds and started taking Xanax before visits. I tried to get the nurse I liked best. And I had someone there for me at every visit, if not Jeff, my son or a friend. Not everyone can have this; try your best to find someone and prepare ways to help yourself manage anticipated anxiety.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 5: Fear

Many of the emotions felt during my breast cancer journey coexisted. I’m sure that fear formed part of my feeling of shock. When you hear you have a potentially deadly disease, it’s normal to feel fear. However, there was a specific incident that threw me into full fear mode.

After returning from our visit to PA for Christmas, I met with the oncologist who had more information to share. I thought we’d plan for 7 weeks of radiation treatment followed by hormone blocking pills, and I’d be done. I told everyone that. I was wrong. One of the test scores showed the likelihood of breast cancer returning unless I had chemotherapy, too. Chemotherapy was a word I had dreaded hearing ever since I was diagnosed!

Next, I went to the radiation oncologist, who used a lot of big words as he was known to do, to tell me this: to decrease my chances of recurrence greatly, my choice was mastectomy or chemo. They’d have similar outcomes. I’m sure which word was worse to hear!

I hadn’t had anyone close to me that suffered through breast cancer and treatment. I felt panicked. I didn’t want either of my choices. I had to choose, and since I preferred to not have a mastectomy, my only option was chemotherapy. Ironically, my cancer was already gone, removed by the surgery, yet I had to go through a full course of treatment.

I want to pause here to give a virtual hug to all those women who have had mastectomies. No doubt it’s an emotionally difficult road to travel, filled with fear and other emotions. You’re beautiful and amazing, through and through.

Chemotherapy can be a formidable adversary as well as a life saver. It’s flat out destructive. Although my three chemo drugs’ benefits targeted my breast cancer type, they destroyed many cells all over the body and caused problems throughout. One of the drugs was called the red devil. I had to have a port put into a large vein because the red devil would burn the smaller veins. Nice. I was really looking forward to the that.

My oncologists wanted me to start treatment as soon as possible. My surgeon scheduled port surgery and in less than a week, I started chemo, sore surgical area and all. That was probably the scariest day of all.

How did I get through it? By taking it one day at a time. There’s no magic. The love and support of family and friends was critical. Sometimes, I just needed to talk. Jeff was with me every step of the way, acknowledging but not feeding my fear. I relied a lot on getting answers to my questions – the fear brought out my questioning nature – from my oncologist. I researched and read. I prayed, asking God to see me through this. I never convinced myself to not be afraid, and, frankly, fear never fully went away. But most days, I learned to overcome it.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 4: Resignation and Acceptance

At some point in the journey of telling people I had breast cancer and meeting with the doctors about what’s next, I gave into the belief that I was sick with this impossible disease. I felt resigned to the fact that my body held cancer and that the next few months would be scary and challenging. I was sad and confused that this was happening to me, but my mind was more settled.

That resignation turned into acceptance. I knew what I had and that I could handle it. I needed that acceptance to carry on, to move forward with educating myself so that I could understand my cancer and to help myself make decisions.

In everyday life, I call myself information obsessive. If someone says, “I wonder what…” it almost doesn’t matter what information they’re looking for. If it’s something no one in the room can answer, I am on my phone or laptop looking it up. I go above and beyond the call, digging deep until I’m satisfied with the response. You can imagine Jeff being confused when, at first, I didn’t really want to read the doctor’s information sent home with me or to review my medical file. I wasn’t ready. I was still in shock and hadn’t fully accepted the situation as real. After a few weeks, when acceptance kicked in, I was able to read and learn about navigating cancer with a clearer mind.

Acceptance of my breast cancer was a hard pill to swallow. Now, I was able to listen to the doctor a bit better and make plans. I was told I’d probably just have surgery followed by 10 weeks of radiation, based on my tumor size and no lymph nodes affected. I decided I could handle that and scheduled the tumor removal surgery. I also decided to travel to PA to visit my family for Christmas not long after the surgery. I was told it would be okay to travel, but I think my family members here and there were surprised that I still wanted to go.

When in PA, my acceptance of the situation made it easier to talk to my mother and others about it. My attitude was, this is the way it is and I’m going to be okay. I became stronger emotionally at that time. Acceptance got me through that short period. After I returned from PA, I received some additional news about my tumor and my cancer, and the journey changed. That’s when I developed the emotion for tomorrow’s blog post: Fear.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 3: Anger

Thinking about anger threw me for a loop. I had an image of someone in a movie ranting and about cancer, how unfair it was, and how they were so mad and pounding their fists on someone else. Some people do have strong anger episodes. Surely, I experienced anger at my diagnosis, just not the ranting-raving kind. My anger came out as crying in frustration. I was angry to have cancer. I was angry to lose control of my circumstances. I was angry to have my activities curtailed, especially with it being Tristan’s senior year in high school. I was angry to need treatment when I was originally told I probably wouldn’t need it. And I was angry to lose my hair! Still, I didn’t rant and rave as I imagined someone might.

I asked Jeff about this. I said, “I don’t remember feeling really angry.” He looked at me like, uh, yes you were. He said I was angry when he wanted to tell people about my diagnosis. I thought he was mad about it, not me! Jeff also said I was angry that he said he understood what I was going through – I told him he couldn’t understand how it affected my self-image as a woman. I don’t remember expressing myself in anger, but he does. And that’s okay. It happens in communications. Likely, I felt justified in what I was saying, so it came out in an angry tone; I was directing my anger toward him.

I see a connection between what I was angry about and the situations he mentioned. Other than anger toward having this disease and going through horrid treatments, I was angry about losing control of my life. Cancer would be in control. Doctors would be in control. The effects of treatment would be in control. They’d cause me to lose so much. It wasn’t fair to have my life changed. Losing control was the source of a lot of my anger.

So many other emotions mingled with anger that my moods were all over the place. I remember putting on the brave face for people outside of my husband and sons. I tried to play down what I was experiencing. I’d say, ”I’ll be fine,” although I wasn’t sure if I believed it. I reassured friends and extended family because I didn’t want them to think the worst. I wanted them to feel okay about me.

Have you experienced anger from being diagnosed with cancer or another serious condition? Can you relate to my way of dealing with it, or was your experienced different? It’s natural to be angry and good to express it. There’s a fine line between expressing anger ABOUT the situation and AT the people around you. When you’re angry, it’s easy to take it out on loved ones, and they think you’re mad at them. I learned that today, and I hope I remember to focus my anger on the situation, not the person, in difficult times.

Next up: Resignation

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 2: Shock

You hear the news, “You have breast cancer.” You can’t accept that it’s true. Disbelief and shock go hand-in-hand. Maybe shock causes disbelief. I remember crying before the nurse even said the words. I heard her say them. I may have asked a question. Most likely my husband, Jeff, asked them, while most of my time was spent trying to absorb the fact that I had cancer without completely collapsing in sobs. The memory of the meeting is somewhat of a blur with vague images of certain moments floating through a curtain of tears.

It’s important to NOT be alone while dealing with a shock like this. It’s hard to grasp any information or instructions when your mind is blank with shock. You can’t take it in. The questions about stages, types, and next steps blend in with, Why did this happen? Why me? Am I going to live? Although Jeff was upset, he was more focused, comforting me and listening to the nurse. He says that he recorded the meeting on his phone but I don’t think I could listen to it. Please, take someone – a friend, family member, spouse, partner, coworker – any kind person into your early appointments to help you hold it together and to hear, to gather information as Jeff did for me.

The feeling of shock mingled with disbelief for a couple weeks. I had a tough time deciding when and how to tell people about my diagnosis. I coped by making a plan. I spoke to my high school son, Tristan, right away and notified my other son, Jared, when he came home from college a week later. I had to take some deep breaths and get mentally ready each time. The hardest call was to my mom. I asked my sister to be with her. I knew she’d take it hard in a shocked state of her own. We all cried, we all got through it. I told my in-laws and other sister on the same day as mom, then moved on to friends, and slowly releasing the news into the beyond.

As I think about it now, this was my way of letting the facts sink in and letting go of the shock slowly so I could handle my new reality. I couldn’t rip the bandage off all at once. I needed that measured approach to manage my own mental anguish. It frustrated Jeff. I made him wait to tell people. It gave me some control over a small aspect of the situation, and I think that helped.

I’d advise anyone who gets a serious illness diagnosis to allow themselves time to absorb the news. Give yourself a break. You’ll have a long road ahead and a lot to deal with. It’s your body and your mind. Let your loved ones know what you need to do, how you need to handle it. If they love you as mine love me, they’ll understand.

Next up: Anger

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks

Day 1: Disbelief

Until 2016, I went into every mammogram just knowing that it would be clear, and I could go on with my daily life as usual. In November 2015, a different story emerged that would change my life forever. I received my first indication of possible breast cancer.

My first reaction to the possibility of breast cancer was disbelief. I thought, Oh, they see something, but it will turn out to be nothing when I come back for further testing. A blip on the radar. A benign tumor. During the sonogram, the doctor had a look on her face that said I was in trouble. She explained that she saw a small tumor, and it had calcifications. I knew from my son’s previous diagnosis of thyroid cancer that his tumor had calcifications. I required a biopsy.

After my biopsy, a nurse lead my husband and I into the head nurse’s office. We were quietly ushered in. I knew what was coming, yet I couldn’t get my head around it. How could this happen to me? None of my direct line of family had breast cancer, only one aunt who developed it in her 90s. I told myself, This has to be a mistake. I was in total disbelief.

Many women experience disbelief in their diagnosis. I’ve talked to other women with cancer. I’ve read about it online and in books. I experienced it myself. It comes from believing certain things about yourself and not wanting to accept this new reality.How do you combat disbelief? As long as you continue to seek medical help, you don’t have a choice. You move forward with the appointments, information, and treatment options. Disbelief is overcome by the facts that are presented to you. Know that it’s normal to feel this way and allow yourself to work through it. Look for support in family, friends, and medical professionals.Whether you believe it or not, a positive diagnosis means that the breast cancer is in your body. Get a second opinion if you can’t shake the feeling of disbelief. For many of us, it settles into tomorrow’s frightening emotion: shock.

#breastcancer #cancer #breastcancerawareness #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #cancersurvivor #chemotherapy #survivor #chemo #cancerfighter #breastcancerwarrior #cancerawareness #health #breastcancerfighter #cancerwarrior #breastcancersupport #pinkribbon #covid #pink #womenshealth #cancertreatment #breastcancercare #breastcancersucks