A Grateful Five-Year Breast Cancer Survivor – Part 3

 

If the fear of cancer keeps you from moving forward,

enjoying life, being with loved one, laughing,

then the cancer won, even if it never comes back.

But if you reclaim your life, then even if the

cancer comes back, it didn’t win, because YOU, the PERSON, survived.

Lisa Weissman, Hematology/Oncology

October 1, 2013 the beginning of Breast Cancer Month, I made the choice to eliminate the fears about MY condition.

For more than five years, after a diagnosis of Breast Cancer, I lived in fear of the unknown —–

  • Fear of monthly self-breast exams;
  • Fear of periodic mammograms; and
  • Fear of appointments with the oncologist.

Since MY diagnosis, these unknown fears always ended with “no sign of cancer recurrence.”  A  welcomed, temporary reprieve until I had to undergo the next monthly self-breast exam, mammogram, and/or oncology visit.

Last month, as I prepared to write this four-part series on MY Breast Cancer Journey, I visited a number of blogs written by breast cancer survivors as well as breast cancer organization websites. These blogs and websites served as MY first introduction to Metastatic Breast Cancer and a new fear to deal with.   The question is why MY oncologists never once discussed this condition with ME.   Rest assured, on my next scheduled visit in December this will be MY first question to the oncologist.

While, I am Grateful for the excellent treatment provided by MY oncologists; I am a bit disappointed that they failed to discuss and explain Metastatic Breast Cancer.   I may have made different lifestyle choices if they had shared information like the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance facts:

  • Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body:  bones, liver, lungs or brain.
  • early detection does not guarantee a cure.  Metastatic Beast Cancer can occur 5, 10, or 15 years after a person’s original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
  • An estimated 155,00 Americans are currently living with Metastatic Breast CancerMetastatic Breast Cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  • 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop Metastatic Breast Cancer.
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer is not an automatic death sentence.  Although most people will ultimately die of the disease, some will live long, productive lives.

Despite the above-information, I overcame the FEARS of Breast Cancer.   How?

Rather than focus on fear, I seek information, encouragement, and self-empowerment by connecting  with:

Rather than focus on fear, I seek spiritual uplifting, inspiration, strength, serenity, happiness, and peace through MY daily readings:

  • 100 Perks of Having Cancer – Plus100 Health Tips for Surviving It, Florence Strang, B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed. and Susan Gonzalez, R.N., B.S.N.
  • The President’s Devotionals  – The Daily Readings that Inspired President Barach Obama, Joshua DuBois
  • Simple Abundance:  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
  • Simple Abundance Living by Your Own Lights (Audio Book), Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin
  • The Pink Bible an Invitation to Hope

I have chosen to “eliminate the fears” and “embrace the present”……..

  • “With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future, I live now.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • “Forever is composed of nows.”  (Emily Dickson)
  • “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” (Buddha)
  • “We are always getting ready to live but never living.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • “Today is life – the only life you are sure of.  Make the most of today.”  (Dale Carnegie)
  • “We steal if we touch tomorrow.  It is God’s.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • “If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” (Morris West).

I am Grateful for the positive changes in MY lifestyle since the Breast Cancer diagnosis.

I am most Thankful to the Divine Spirit for guiding ME to write about MY Breast Cancer Journey.

A GRATEFUL FIVE-YEAR BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR – PART 2

 INTRODUCTION

I designated October as the month to read everything MY 70-year-old brain could absorb on Breast CancerAlso, the goal was to write a four-part series about MY five-year journey as a Survivor.   

Relying on Google searches, I visited Breast Cancer:

  • Organizations
  • Personal Blogs
  • Support Groups Online
  • Support Groups for Family
  • Forums and Discussion Groups

But, before I could finish Part 2 of the series, a bout of bronchitis entered MY space and gained control.  For almost three weeks, I was totally out of commission.   But thanks to an excellent primary care physician, nebulizer inhalations, antibiotics, and cough medicine; I am bronchitis-free, feeling great, and ready to complete what I started.

###########

PART 2 – SURVIVING AND OVERCOMING BREAST CANCER

In the beginning of my Breast Cancer journey, I was frustrated, depressed, anxious, fearful and just plain angry.

Without warning, this “unwelcome” and “unfamiliar” condition, Breast Cancer, invaded MY body and changed MY life.  There were so many unanswered questions about life expectancy, diagnosis, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Did I really want answers?  No, denial and rejection of any topic related to Breast Cancer served as MY safety net I chose to make Assumptions rather than face Reality.

Assumptions:

  • MY Five Year Survival Rate for Stage 1 Breast Cancer was 97%.
  • Stage 1 Breast Cancer was serious but not life threatening. 
  • After five years, Breast Cancer was no longer a risk.

Sadly, for more than five years, I relied on these Assumptions.

But I was left with no choice but to face Reality as I prepared to write this four-part series on Breast Cancer.  After reading a number of blogs written by Breast Cancer survivors and caregivers as well as visiting different Breast Cancer organization websites, I confronted —

Reality

  • American Cancer SocietyThe five year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live after their cancer is found.  Of course, many people live much longer than five years.”
  • Oncology Practice, Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer:  A Global Patient Survey – “Worldwide, one-third of patients who present with early-stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease.”

Now, I must face the Reality that MY

  • 98% five-year survival rate has ended; and
  • despite an early diagnosis of Stage 1 Breast Cancer, I may be among the one-third who develops metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer.

As I continue down the path of this Breast Cancer journey, I will strive to improve the quality of MY life, on a daily basis, through:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Pacing
  • Distractions
  • Sleep Health
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Massage Therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Spiritual Growth

I plan to put forth an extra effort to remain optimistic and stay positive in preparing to write Part 3 of this series on metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer.    It’s a topic that I fear but I no longer will rely on Assumptions to avoid Reality.

Expressing Gratitude for the positive changes in my life after Breast Cancer.  Everything happens in accordance with God’s Plan.  

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Also, Appreciation and Thanks to Amanda, Living in Another Language, for creating the new blog design.

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