First finding out you have breast cancer

When you first discover that you have breast cancer, the world stops and spins about a million times. Nothing can or will ever prepare you for hearing anyone tell you, "I'm sorry to tell you but we found cancer in your biopsy." Or how my oncologist put it, "We found a little bit of cancer." That is like saying that you're a little bit pregnant.  You either are or you aren't - there isn't a happy medium.

Even if you are the strongest, healthiest, beautiful, emotionally healthy woman that ever struck the Earth, hearing the words that you have breast cancer will make you feel things that you never felt before. I actually beat myself up for how I reacted to my phone call. I cried, shook, and couldn't speak to anyone about it for a few hours. I thought to myself, "come on, you can handle this! You handle everything else!" 

But, listen, when you have cancer, it is okay to feel whatever you need to feel and act however you need to act for the first day. Unfortunately, sooner or later, you will need to tell your family and friends. I know that you do not want to because you don't want to ruin their day or upset them. But trust me, they want and need to know so they can better assist you.

I'm sure that you'll hear people say, "You can fight this." As you will shortly understand, cancer is not a fair argument or battle.  No one initiated cancer into your body. I never saw myself as fighting cancer but fighting to find the right treatment, the right doctor, the right hospital and the right support services. Radiation, cancer medication, chemotherapy, and mastectomies all fight the cancer. You are the vessel that will make it happen.

After you find out the news, it is important not to panic and think the worst case scenario.  Treatments, doctors, facilities and research are ever evolving. You probably won't know exactly the stage or type of cancer until your appointment. You can try discuss it over the telephone, but they don't always do that. But chances are they will give you some indication of what you are dealing with.

You need to be proud of yourself that you took the necessary steps needed to discover the cancer. Without your actions, waiting would only make your diagnosis much worse.  Give yourself credit that you made it to the let's tackle the problem stage.

When I first found out that I had breast cancer, I discovered that taking control of the situation helped me a lot. You already feel out of control so by taking the reins in what you can control gives you the power and not cancer.

Listen to all of the options, get a second opinion, let well meaning advice from friends roll off your back and keep calm. I thought going through cancer with my children would be harder than what it was.  My daughter was nine at the time, and I found that being honest and open helped everyone.  I promised her that I would be honest and keep her in the loop.  Yes, we had our emotional moments and things were hard, but we did it.

Allow family and friends be there for you.  I was surprised when I went to the oncologist that my husband, sister and mother all came with me.  It meant so much to me and made hearing both the news plus the options easier.  Let people help even if you feel you can do it all.  Enjoy the joys in life that makes you smile. Cancer has a way of reminding you of what is really important in life.


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