Today I would like to take you back to the beginning of my journey with cancer. Maybe someone who is reading this post has found him or herself at the crossroads of Cancer Ave and Where Do I Go From Here Lane. Or maybe someone you know is facing the treacherous hike with cancer. Either way, there is one thing that all cancer patients have in common...the moment of diagnosis.
There are a few things that I have learned in regards to my own moment of diagnosis that I would like to share with you. Hopefully my words will make that terrible moment just a bit lighter for you to bear.
The Date: August 19, 2011
As those words were spoken, time seemed to stand still and I entered an alternate universe. It was a place that I never dreamed I would be. Cancer happens to other people, right? I was only 33 years old with no family history. How could I possibly now wear the badge of "breast cancer patient."
But sadly, I did have to wear that badge and continue to wear it today. Although the words have shifted from "patient" to "survivor", I still feel the weight of it on my heart. My soul weeps whenever I hear of someone else who is given this badge to wear, and it is because so many badges are still being handed out, that I continue to write and talk about my experience. If I can help even only one person on their journey, then it will all be worth it. My hope is to help many, but I am only one person and will try to do the best that I can.
1. You are not going to die immediately, or the next day, or even the day after that. There is time to breathe and think and process the information. So my advice for step number one is...continue to breathe. One breath at a time. In and out.
2. It's okay if you don't know what to do. Every single person is different and every single cancer diagnosis looks a little bit different from one person to the next. If you are a planner, like me, then you will probably want to know immediately what "the plan" is to take care of the cancer. But the truth of the matter is, "the plan" generally requires some patience and careful consideration. Find a doctor that fits (and believe me, you will know which doctor is right for you. Intuition is a powerful thing) and then trust him or her to help you take the next steps.
3. Continue to live...one day at a time. Because I am a planner, the unknowns were killing me. I wanted all of the answers at once and I wanted to know exactly what I needed to do to kick my cancer to the curb. The only problem was, I started having tunnel vision and the only thing that I could see was the fact that I didn't have any answers. It took a few days and some wise words from my mother-in-law, but eventually I realized that I needed to continue living my life- eating, breathing, laughing, you name it. Just remember that you are alive and life is still good.