All of us who are breast cancer survivors (and even those of you who are not) could always use some inspiration. Right?
I receive inspirational quotes and messages every day from various sources. Some of these really hit the nail on the head; it feels almost like reading your daily horoscope (which of course, I do as well).
How many of us can relate to that? Do you remember when you received your cancer diagnosis? Did you even have time to think about what the words “You have cancer” actually meant?
Of course not.
You had to schedule a biopsy, have the biopsy, hear the diagnosis from your doctor, find a surgeon, have surgery, find an oncologist, visit your oncologist, schedule your chemo, buy a wig, begin chemo, have a blood test, have a shot, recover from chemo #1, prepare to start chemo #2 several weeks later…and so on.
At the same time you had to try to live a normal life and go about your regular daily activities, like working, paying the bills, feeding yourself and your family, etc., etc., etc.
For over nine months, your routine is pretty much the same. If it isn’t chemo, it’s radiation. Every single day for 33 days, except for weekends, you lie on the table in a very cold room and watch that very big machine shoot X-rays into your body. Not much time to think about being afraid there, either.
So when does it happen – being afraid?
My fear came after it was all over and I really had time to think about what just happened to me. That’s when I felt it was safe to take a deep breath and pat myself on the back, because before that I needed all my energy to fight the cancer demon. Nothing could stand in my way of fighting the demon – absolutely nothing!
Today I am more afraid, but I also have had more time to think about my cancers. I am anxious every time I have a test. I worry with each new ache and pain, because you never really know what it is. And I am more fearful when I learn about someone who has had a recurrence.
I still have not fully embraced being a cancer survivor. Even though I display all the outward signs – I raise money for the cause, I am a team captain for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, I walk in the Komen races and I wear my pink and purple bracelets – I still don’t really believe I had cancer. I feel fine.
The only times I feel like a cancer survivor are when I walk in the survivor walk at Relay for Life, or when I walk in a Komen race, or I attend a Day of Caring event, because it is then that I am surrounded by the reality that I am a member of the sisterhood. I am a cancer survivor and I am very proud and happy to be included in the category. I also work very hard to avoid a recurrence, but if it should happen, I am prepared.
But as Lady Bird Johnson suggests, I have become so wrapped up in other things, I forget that I am afraid.
Muriel, the editor, five-year survivor
PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION
As a part of our mission to make The Journey a powerful voice for everyone in our community, we invite each of you to consider joining the conversation and sharing your journey with comments and feedback. You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor, you can be a caregiver, or a friend, or a concerned citizen. What we are looking for is meaningful and helpful conversations that will encourage other people as they travel along their journey. Sharing is caring and very cathartic. I sincerely urge you to take part.