My mother was visiting with my family and me during the time that I had all of the medical appointments and tests. So, after peeling myself out of the cocoon of covers that provided solace after receiving the news that I had breast cancer from the doctor, I went and told my mother the devastating news. She pulled me close, held me tight and we cried. For the next seven months, my mom lived in my home and become my full-time caregiver and homemaker while I underwent cancer treatment.
I called my husband at work and shared the news with him. He came home as soon as he could. He sat with me, hugged me and told me that he would be here for me. He reassured me that we would get through this TOGETHER. Not having a clue as to the toll that a prolonged illness could have on our marriage, we began our journey innocently, boldly, blindly and quickly. (Rest assured that I will write more about the impact that breast cancer had upon my marriage in a future post. So, stay tuned! ;-))
My Dad and step-Mom were out of the country when I delivered the news. Their deep sadness, love, and support spanned the distance of separation. My brother was crushed to tears with the news, and my sister was numb with shock. Despite the painful blow that the news of cancer dealt with my family and me, we remained STRONG and UNITED. This disease has brought us closer than we have ever been before. Although my children were too young to understand the full extent of the diagnosis, they were perceptive enough to know that something was wrong. My husband and I explained to them what breast cancer is. I requested that they give me lots of hugs, kisses, and love because this would help the medicine to work better. They agreed and began the regimen immediately!
One of the hardest things about telling others that I have breast cancer is having to actually say, “I HAVE BREAST CANCER.” These are FOUR BIG WORDS that no one ever imagines that they will have to say. Because there is such fear associated with the word CANCER, it is only natural that those who know and care deeply for you will be fearful for you. They are fearful for your survival.
The news was shared with other family members and friends throughout the days and weeks to follow. Everyone reacted to the news in different ways. Some people lamented, while others simply dropped off the face of the earth! One thing I discovered during this phase of my breast cancer experience is that people deal with stress, adversity, and grief in very different ways. One way of dealing should not be favored over the other. We are all different and should be allowed to express ourselves emotionally, in whichever way we see fit at the moment. So be patient.
After sharing the devastating news with family and friends, I made a vow to myself that I was not going to allow cancer to change who I am as a person. I am an OPTIMIST. I am one of those individuals who see the glass as half full, as opposed to half empty. I enjoy LAUGHING. I delight in ENCOURAGING others. Overall, I am what you would describe as a HAPPY person.
I made a purposeful decision to embrace a positive attitude and outlook during my breast cancer experience in 2011. I know that this helped me tremendously. I experienced fewer bouts with depression and my vision for the future, post-treatment, was bright. There is a scripture in God’s love letter that says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
As you know, I had a recurrence of breast cancer in 2016 and am currently undergoing treatment. This time around, I have come to realize that in addition to embracing a positive outlook and attitude, it is of EQUAL IMPORTANCE to embrace the negative emotions that come as a result of experiencing this disease. There are days when I am happy, and there are also days when I am sad or feeling depressed. Unlike in 2011, this time around, I am not only showing the HAPPY me, but I am exposing the SAD and DEPRESSED me as well. I am very transparent about how I feel at any given moment. I owe it to myself. I owe it to those who actually care about me. Breast Cancer Ain’t Pink, and the only way that others will truly know what I mean by this is if I share my emotional experiences with them in LOVE and true TRANSPARENCY.
My challenge to you is to be TRANSPARENT this week. Try to let others in. Tell your friends and your family the TRUTH when they ask how you are doing.
Please be sure to comment or email your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time, Ciao!♥