Don’t Let Cancer Define You…You Are More Than Your Diagnosis

Cancer can be a debilitating disease to one’s body. But the real battle is most often fought and won or loss in the mind!  Almost every cancer survivor will tell you that before they won the battle physically against cancer, they won the battle mentally and emotionally first.

What we think and how we think definitely determines how our emotions and our physical body will respond to cancer treatments.

Attitude is everything!

I found it helpful to create a routine. Or as close to a routine as possible. I would focus on my appointments, follow-ups, work, G-babies, daughters and hubby. I set aside specific allotments of time to write on this page. Every hour had a purpose. Every day had a goal. I didn’t answer my phone unless it was family, doctors or work. I did not want to talk Cancer or treatment. And if we were face to face and I didn’t want to talk about it, I’d say, “I am choosing to have cancer free time at the moment. Is there anything else you would like to discuss?” Most understood. This gave me some level of control of my situation.

First, we have to get over any body inhibitions we have. We have to strip down at almost every appointment we have with a doctor who will be touching you. It’s part of protocol. This might be harder for some women than others, especially if your upbringing, cultural background, or religious beliefs make it taboo to have your body naked , much less your private parts, viewed or touched by anyone other than your spouse. But it is part of the breast cancer drill. Your breast will be touched. If you are uncomfortable, have someone you trust accompany you to the examination.

Second, get in touch with your own body. You will need to read any and all signs of changes as you go along and be comfortable discussing them. One of the most difficult things is learning to look at your new body in the mirror.

Although the disease takes its toll physically, the mental strain of chemotherapy, oncology appointments and not knowing if the cancer will return can be even more taxing on survivors. The moment of diagnosis is a profound moment for every person with cancer.

This is the moment your life changes forever. You begin to ask questions that you never thought of before.  You begin to feel things and experience emotions that you never had before this moment. The stress and mental anguish is beyond belief. And then there is the dread of “what if?” – what if I don’t survive?

It’s not easy keeping a positive attitude when the news is negative. But it makes a difference. It is normal to be angry, sad, confused, depressed, and heartbroken. It is not good to remain that way. Cancer is not contagious but moods are. How you convey your emotions will impact how others feel around you. I promised myself that every negative emotion I would work on a positive one. Cry and then call a friend that will make you laugh. Play with your child, g-baby or pet. Hug your hubby, who is undergoing just as much emotional stress as you are and may need reassurance. Negative energy is exhausting. Blue is not your best color right now.

You have a choice. You can wallow in misery and be sad or you can say to yourself, “This is a minor inconvenience, a detour I did not plan to take; but I will focus and get through it the best I can.” Use meditation and creative visualization to free your mind and feel better.

Let people treat you. Allow yourself to be indulged for once. But remember, be very clear with everyone if you need quiet time. I kept working, which kept me distracted and therapeutic since my work was something I could still control in my life.

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