You have breast cancer.
No one wants to hear those words, ever. But when you or someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer, your world changes. Something about it will never be the same. When you hear the “c” word, your first instinct is to break down and cry, and then anger sets in, and you are ready to fight, just as Sally tells us in how she coped with her diagnosis. After a clean mammogram, she found her breast lump only 4 short months later.
One of the hardest moments is waiting to hear if a test is positive. Waiting for the radiologist to read your mammogram results can feel as though days have passed. Amy sat in the waiting room wondering if her suspicious markings were cancer. As she looked around, she told the two other women there, she would take one for the team. Not knowing the statistic, she assumed 1 in 3 would get breast cancer, and so she just knew it would be her. Rather than be angry or mad, she knew she had to choose to be calm and positive because no matter what she wanted, it was a reality she had to face.
When she was first diagnosed, Ginger was a fitness instructor and pregnant. Her first reaction was the fear of the unknown for herself and her unborn baby. “We all go into it not knowing. It is the unknown that just scares you.” Choosing not to do chemotherapy until after her child was born, she had to hear the word cancer again after nine years of having a clean bill of health.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of patients that hear the “C” word more than once in their lifetime. Each time it does not get easier. I think no matter if it is the first or third time your heart sinks, you almost gasp for breath, and you fight with all your might to not let the water drops spill from your eyes. At first the feeling is disbelief. And then it floods over you.
For Lydia, she received the call while she at school. Stepping out of a meeting to take a call to speak with her doctor, she immediately felt overwhelmed with all of the questions and instructions of everything that needed to happen next. All she wanted was to speak with her husband and take a deep breath.
Toni found her lump the day after Christmas. She went and and got checked and cancer was confirmed. She found her strength through her husband, daughter and her teacher of twenty years who urged her, “don’t worry about it, it is what it is. Just get your treatment.”
The reality is, it is not just a breast cancer diagnosis that messes with your world. Any type of cancer diagnosis uproots your entire life. Many will go through even just the emotions of a cancer scare, or a breast lump that needs further testing. Nerves are high, and emotions can get the best of you before you ever know if cancer is the diagnosis.
Some will cope with cancer by taking it out in the gym, eating their feelings, or breaking down in tears. Whatever it is you need, take that moment to feel, and then start put one foot forward, one step at at time. Perhaps the best reminder is to not allow cancer to live “rent free” in your thoughts and to allow your loved ones to help.
Watch Cancer Horizons Breast Cancer Realities: How To Cope With A Breast Cancer Diagnosis here.