Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 years old was probably the worst day of my life. My world crashed in around me, and I immediately went into fight mode. Although my outcome was good, I would like to share seven things I wish I knew before my diagnosis.
1. Everyone will have an opinion.
People that never had cancer but are close to you will want to offer very intrusive and often non-solicited advice. They believe it’s well-meaning, but when I was diagnosed, my world crashed around me, and I only had enough bandwidth to deal with my doctors. I had to be okay telling people that I didn’t want their advice.
2. I would have to advocate for myself.
It’s sad to say, but I had to be stern with many healthcare workers I came in contact with. To them, it’s a job, and they don’t think twice about it. They have lost the human factor completely. But, it’s my life, and I take it seriously, so I needed to remind them that I wasn’t there to joke or play around. It’ was all business for me, and that’s what I expected in return.
3. My life will be forever changed.
It changed in so many ways, and many things I will probably never talk about. For example, now I worry about all lumps, bumps, even if I know they are not cancer, clothes no longer fit the same, and I also worry about what my life will be like in 5 or 10 years.
4. I would feel scared and alone.
This is normal; everyone I talked to felt this way. I had to develop and become a pro at my coping skills to get through the day.
5. Care and Treatment options are between my doctors and me.
I was probably one of the rare people that did not solicit much outside advice. I asked thoughtful questions to my doctors, who were well informed about all of my other medical issues, and then gave myself time to think and decide.
6. The scars and disfigurement will not bother me any less as time goes on.
It’s something I am still working on, and will most likely never get over. However, I am working with a plastic surgeon to get a more desirable outcome.
7. Support from friends and family is critical!
I would not have made it through breast cancer without them. They were my lifeline and kept me going every day! I’ve told them how much I appreciate them, but I often wonder if they know just how important they were to my survival.
Everyone will have a different cancer journey and their own ways of coping. I wanted to share what I learned along the way, so maybe it can help someone think about something they haven’t before. Cancer is all-consuming, and I hope that, however, you decide to tackle it, that you will find what works best for you and have people that love you to help you!
Lisa Marie is a Freelance Writer. She writes about Health, Fitness & Mental Health and is also
an editor, blogger, curriculum writer and Certified Personal Trainer.