Trust me, I am NO psychotherapist, but I have helped many women (including myself) through one
of the most difficult times in their lives, as a survivor and as a RN working for a breast surgeon.
I tell all newly diagnosed women the same thing: In the next few weeks you will make a conscious decision--choosing
to look UP or choosing to look DOWN. I don't mean this in a religious manner, although that is absolutely true as well.
This decision will greatly impact the way you go through this entire breast cancer experience (and LIFE,
in general). I have become an expert at "putting perfume on a pig." It is STILL a pig, and it STILL stinks--but it stinks
BETTER! Try to find the BEST thing you can in your situation. But first we will take a look at dealing with the WORST.
It is SOOOO easy to find the worst in this situation, in ANY bad situation, actually. The initial shock,
the "oh my GOD, I could DIE" feelings... You need to work BEYOND these to really get into the frame of mind you need to KICK
I am NOT telling you that you can't freak out--absolutely, you NEED to do this. I am not telling you not
to cry, scream and beat your chest. We have ALL done this.
What I AM telling you, is that you can let yourself do all these things--but limit yourself. Once you get to
that 45 minute-mark and your eyes are so swollen that no more tears can come...perhaps it is time to STOP crying...for now.
I will also advise you to allow yourself all of these emotions--don't try to constantly put on that brave face.
If you NEVER allow yourself to feel and cry, the emotions will eventually make their way to the surface (when you least expect
it) and you may not be ABLE to control them.
I didn't always want to cry in front of my husband or my children. It felt (to me) that they were ALWAYS
seeing me crying. I decided that I would wait until I was alone (or in my locked bedroom with the stereo blasting) to
let loose. I looked at the clock, started thinking about my situation and fears and felt the emotions well up. I let myself
weep until there were no more tears...until my throat was parched...until that "white-hot" feeling in my chest was GONE.
I splashed water on my face & rejoined my family.
Now, families aren't stupid! (well....MOST aren't ;) My family could tell I had been crying (I am a fair-skinned,
semi-redhead whose nose stays like a strawberry for HOURS after I cry). My eyes were puffy slits. They would ask if I was
sad, I would tell them I cried & felt better. They would hug me & nobody was traumatized too badly.
Now, how to find the BEST thing about your situation. This may take some searching, especially depending upon
where in the cancer's progression you were diagnosed. It is ALL about keeping your perspective. And remember...there is ALWAYS
someone who has it worse than YOU.
I don't mean to sound trivial about any of these things--this is just MY way of dealing with things. IT ALL
You can look at your Stage--put it in perspective. Gee, stage I is better than a II is better than a III...
And Stage IV, at least we have an opportunity to choose to no longer do what we DON'T want to or spend time with stupid people...get
the idea? We still have an opportunity to tell our families that we love them (unlike that neighbor who just dropped
dead). I am really reaching here...but I am trying to show you a way of looking at things differently.
If you require a lumpectomy, be thankful that you don't need a mastectomy. If you need a mastectomy, be glad
it isn't a bilateral. If you need a bilateral mastectomy...be glad that you don't ever need mammograms or bras again... See?
It's all "perfume on a pig."
Above all, once you have gone through the initial trauma, choose LIFE again!
Find humor in EVERYTHING you can...if there IS none, MAKE some!!
Make a decision to spend time with those you love...doing only things that you love doing.
Get rid of all the baggage that may have been holding you back...including relatives who suck the oxygen out
of a room when they visit.
TAKE CONTROL of your life. You really DO have the power within!
OK, I am off my soapbox now LOL
Another thing to remember: Just because you have cancer, does NOT mean that cancer has YOU. You are STILL the
same valuable, loving, lovable human being. You may even become a new and improved model (or not), once you have gone through
this. But only YOU can decide that.
Also--just because you have cancer, does NOT mean that it is your "job" to make people comfortable with you.
If you want to go around bald-headed--DO IT. If you want to walk around without your fake boob--DO IT. You don't have to be
a cancer teacher, unless you WANT to be. If people stare (they might), smile...or stare back...or make a face ;)
Don't forget to ENJOY yourself--find joy where you can. Sunrises, sunsets, flowers, a pet's soft fur, hugs &
kisses, waking up everyday...
Remember that you are part of a unique sisterhood. None of us ever planned it, but we ARE richer
having known each other--even if in cyberspace. And we understand each other like no others.
"While the pessimist may be proven right
eventually, the OPTIMIST has a better time on the trip!"