Tag Archive | Breast Cancer Survivor

DP ~ Transforming My Life

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You have Breast Cancer

On New Year’s Eve 2001, at 1:15pm, the above words were barely out of the mouth of the breast surgeon who had taken 17 biopsies of my lump when my life was forever changed in an instant.  A single piece of paper confirmed the pathology of the lump and my life was immediately mapped out by science and not by me.  All of the plans I had laid with such good intentions went down the drain in that single moment.  My life, my body, my relationships, my future were suddenly not as I’d expected them to be and surprisingly, I was not that surprised.

For you see, I found the lump in November, but between doctor appointments, mammograms and life, the biopsy was not done until the day after Christmas that year.  The day after I hosted Christmas dinner with my husband and our families.  My last non-cancerous Christmas.  And the night before the news was given to me that I had Breast Cancer, I had dreamed that I had it and so when she told me the next day, I wasn’t really surprised.  In fact, I was so calm that she told me I was in shock and that I needed to come back the day after New Years so that she could deliver the future plans of how the doctors would proceed in treating me.  But I was calm, I knew. I heard everything she said and what hit me most was that I was not going to be able to return to teaching.  That’s what stuck in my head.  Not the lumpectomy and subsequent double mastectomy, not the ACT type of chemotherapy which makes all of your hair fall out, not the 6 weeks of radiation to follow.  Nope, it was that I wouldn’t be finishing out the year in my school.  Strange isn’t it what we think when confronted by this type of news?

My life took on a surreal aura after that ~ one that included many tears, much anxiety and a deeper understanding of myself.  I had never been the strong type or so I thought, but when confronted with the possibility of not being around for my boys ages 1 and 3, like an angry Mama Tiger I launched into fighting for my life.  Most of my family didn’t believe I could endure the journey of what I was about to embark on as I have always been a bit weak with pain.  But somehow, knowing that my husband believed I could do it and knowing that he would stand by my side and endure it with me, I was able to conjure up the inner strength needed to live and to supersede all expectations.

It is that priceless gift that my hubby gave me that changed us in an instant as well for this cancer journey hasn’t been easy for either one of us.  The patient has a tough time enduring the treatments, but it’s the spouse/significant other/caretaker who is the silent unsung hero.  It’s my hubby who knows what goes on after all of the family goes home.  It’s HE who holds me when I cry and I’ve just had enough.  He’s the one who understands and it’s to him that I look to for strength when mine is depleted.  It’s HIS face that I search for when I wake up after every surgery (and I’ve endured 15 so far with more to go).

Life goes on for everyone else after time which is good because who wants to be constantly reminded that you’ve endured Breast Cancer?  It’s bad enough to be reminded every morning when I shower and dress or when I have to be tested every 6 months or when I have health complications from it.  Breast Cancer affects life daily after diagnosis ~ it’s in every part of my life ~ even though I try very hard to ignore it.

I refuse to say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me ~ there’s been a bit of a scuttlebutt in the breast cancer world recently with that line.  However, I will say that it enriched my life.  It made me dig deeper into my soul.  I can never go back to the girl that I was on 12/30/01, but I don’t think that I’d want to now.  This girl of 8/6/2013 is a better person ~ psychologically, emotionally, spiritually ~ a better parent, a more loving partner and a most grateful human being.  I am still in the process of accepting the new me ~ it’s a challenge some days, but it’s one that I will continue to work my little Tiger Mama ass off in order to triumph!

You have to find the good in every situation.

Who knew ~ sometimes change is necessary!

Shine On!

xo

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Daily Prompt: Everything Changes

Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRANSFORMATION.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/daily-prompt-transformation/

Shine On!

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The strongest action for a woman is to love herself, be herself

and shine amongst those who never believed she could. ~ Unknown

In response to the Daily Prompt, breast cancer’s journey taught me about myself.  I never believed I held so much inner strength, so much inspiration within my soul.  I never knew how much my life could be affected and therefore could be so effective when I allowed myself to look inside to the glow of loving light and to allow it to shine on the outside as well.

There were many who didn’t believe that I would make it as I am a huge wimp.  But I have survived 15 surgeries thus far in my life and I’m still here.  Still trying to shine this little light o’ mine ~ to light my own path and to light the path for others.  We all have our own special light inside ~ now’s the time to let it shine!

Come take my hand, Come with me…and Let’s Sing!

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine!

Shine On!

xo

Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught!

Tell us a moment or an incident that you treasure  – not necessarily because it brought you happiness, but because it taught you something about yourself.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/daily-prompt-learning/

Pink Once A Week

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Lately I’ve been just going with the flow in my life, but I’ve been dabbling in writing a book or two as well.  It seems to me when we breast cancer patients finish treatment, we are sent out into the world with less than nothing in order to rebuild our lives.  As an 11 year survivor, I’m finding that there are so many women out there who are asking as I did, “What now?” because quite frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming.

First there’s the simple grieving process of being diagnosed, with the subsequent surgeries ranging from a lumpectomy to a full double mastectomy which is enough to depress the happiest of souls followed by the reconstruction surgeries which may or may not take place at the same time.  Most times we endure chemotherapy which as the meds designed to kill cancer cells, slowly changes our body chemistry as well, we endure hair loss including baldness, depression, nausea, aches, pains, weight gain and hot flashes, none which are sexy or fun.  Afterwards, we may have radiation treatment daily which tires us out and gives us a mean sunburn among other things.

And then, we’re set free ~ off to a world filled with pink ribbons and we are handed a survivor sign to commemorate our cancer journey.

But what about the new normal that we’re trying so desperately to find?  It’s a hard road to get used to implants or being breast-less or multiple surgeries.  It’s a process to accept our new bodies with the restrictions surrounding them.  Self-esteem, self-confidence and self-acceptance need to improve so that we can feel good about ourselves and that’s simply NOT just a breast cancer thing either!

So that’s what I’m writing about ~ I want to give a class on it ~ I want to help women who are looking for a friend  to hold her hand as we travel along this road together.  It’s the beautiful thing about women who’ve endured breast cancer.  None of us have wanted to join this group, but since we are all here, we bond.

You can meet a stranger who has breast cancer and instantly, there’s a bond of knowing and understanding which forms quite literally in moments.  We’ve been there and we understand each other.  Have you found that happens to you?  I think it’s human nature to bond with others of similar circumstances.  I know I’ve bonded with others who’ve been grieving over the loss of a parent since my dad passed away last year.  It’s when we open up and connect with each other that healing can take place.

So if you’re interested, let me know because I’d like to write a bit more about it here on my blog.  But I’m testing the waters first because many of my readers aren’t breast cancer survivors ~ but since we’ve all experienced sadness in our lives (at least most of us), I thought it could help others as well since I like the glass half full approach!

What do you think?  Would you appreciate just once a week breast cancer help? 

Please let me know!  Just click on the Poll below!   Thank you!

Shine On!

xo

Miss America’s Mastectomy?

http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2013/01/11/16463704-miss-america-contestant-gets-hate-mail-over-mastectomy-plans?lite

Dear Miss District of Columbia,

You don’t know me, but when I saw the article on you yesterday, I just knew I had to write to you.  Please accept my deepest sympathies as I am so sad that you lost your mom, your grandmother and your great-aunt to breast cancer.  My heart goes out to you for the difficult decisions you have to contemplate at the tender age of 24 in order to reduce your risk of enduring breast cancer.  As an 11 year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 34, I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this decision is for you.  My heart goes out to you.

Although my story is different from yours, I wanted to share in hopes of letting you know that there are those of us who understand.  My journey began with a lumpectomy.  Originally I had wanted a bilateral mastectomy instead of the lumpectomy, but my surgeon denied my request, citing his philosophy to save the breasts and keep them intact.   However, when the pathology results revealed there was further breast cancer invasion to the lymph nodes and outer margins, I was scheduled for a second surgery which was to remove only the cancerous breast.  And that’s when I started listening to myself ~ just like you are doing now!

I called my surgeon back and scheduled a double mastectomy even though nobody agreed with me, least of all my surgeon.  But I know me, and as I began listening to me, I  knew in my heart that it was ME who was going to inhabit my body, day in and night out and it was my comfort level which had to have first priority.  There were shady calcifications in the other breast which to me, would eventually lead to breast cancer again, so I wanted that out of the equation in my life!

It’s been a rocky road for me with the reconstructions, but I have never once regretted my decision to take both of my breasts and I can happily tell you that I feel that I am here because I really listened to myself.  I think our bodies know what we need to do and it is just a matter of our listening to our own bodies which helps to heal and not hinder our lives.

I am very proud of you for listening to yourself and to your body and for having the courage to stand up and speak about it.  Please don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you because it is YOU who has to live in your body everyday and it will be your healing or your fight in the end and nobody else’s.   It is not easy to live without your breasts and it is a painful decision to make ~ however, I stand firmly beside you ~ for it is YOUR rightful decision to make and no one else’s.  Surely your mom, your grandmother and your great aunt proudly applaud your courage as do the rest of us.

I love your quote, ““I’ve been thinking how powerful that might be to have a Miss America say, ‘I might be Miss America but I’m still going to have surgery. I’m going to take control of my own life, my own health care,’ ” she said. “So I guess it’s up to what happens on Saturday night.”

May you continue to be a shining example of  light, of hope  and of taking control of your own life,

your own healthcare to the millions of women and men in the world!

Shine On Miss District of Columbia!

Long May You Reign!

xo

Bonding with Strangers

14090_I awoke this morning at 3am which isn’t that unusual for me for it happens often.  In fact, when I have these in the middle of the night awakenings, they are often accompanied by insightful messages and ideas which I use to write about in my blogs.  Last night’s 3:33am thought has flourished into an idea which I hope to expand upon another day.  But for now, I wanted to talk about connections.

Have you ever met someone and immediately felt a connection ~ felt like you’ve known them, immediately begun to tell them things that not many others know about you and felt safe doing it?  Just knowing it was right to share?   I have enjoyed that gift in my life many times ~ and a few have been life altering in a good way and for JAngel (you know who you are) I am very grateful.

Yesterday my phone rang ~ the head coordinator of the American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery Program called to ask for my help with a newly diagnosed 32 year old woman who had just had a double mastectomy.  I had stopped being a R2R volunteer this year as I had so much on my plate already that I didn’t think I could help anyone else.   However, as we talked yesterday, I realized that it’s time for me to return to volunteering and to helping others travel this journey.

And as BAngel (the coordinator) and I spoke on the phone, it was like we were old friends even though we’d never met.  Both of us are 10 year survivors and as survivors often do, we bonded within moments and began to tell our respective stories to each other, easily asking and answering questions of how the diagnosis was made, what doctors we had (and we shared one!) and joked about some of the funny things that had happened to us along the way.  We shared how we found our breast cancers, what surgeries we endured, what types of chemotherapy we had, how much radiation and how we are feeling today since we’ve hit the 10 year marks!  We also shared the sad side of being a part of support groups where our friends passed away and how gut-wrenchingly scary it is to hear of the death of a breast cancer survivor sister.  Nobody else can understand that sadness except another woman who has lost a friend to the same disease you share.  It is something that just stays with you.  I shared about my friend Jenn https://misifusa.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/spirits-and-music/  and it was a great relief to me to be understood ~ for BAngel to know and understand how I felt in losing Jenn…because she’d lost a friend as well.  I went on to explain that out of our original support group, Jenn was one of 3 women with whom I was close who passed away.  After losing Jenn though, I wasn’t able to return to the support group.  It was just too sad for me which was how I eventually became a R2R volunteer.

We talked for 2 hours on the phone, oblivious to all else except to getting to know each other, and by the end, it felt like we’d been friends for a long time.  In a word, we simply understood each other because we’d walked similar paths.  That part of the journey never gets old for me because I always feel like I learn something new with every survivor I speak with and I hope that they do as well.

I think there’s a lot we can teach each other if we would only be open to listening and learning.  I recently read a quote from someone which said we have 2 ears, but one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak…wouldn’t it be nice if we used them that way?

I love our blogging community because of the connections we continue to make ~ to me, it’s such a gift to connect with all of you.  I want to thank you for all of the lessons you’ve taught me, the inspiration you’ve given me and for the prayers and smiles you’ve blessed me with this year.

Thanks for being you!

Shine On!

xo