One of the hardest things with my cancer diagnosis was what tends to come to mind with the terrible disease, it’s deadly. But it doesn’t mean that’s always the case especially if it’s caught early. Treatment continues to make great gains, further improving outcomes.
The extremely difficult thing for me related to cancer is that my mom died from the same disease I was diagnosed with. So it was hard not to associate death with the disease but I had to realize that’s not the outcome for everyone.
This was hard to initially get past but I knew I just needed to focus on the next steps and doing whatever treatment was required. Even though cancer can be deadly, if caught early and with medicine today, outcomes can be good.
What is amazing is that my mom first had breast cancer in 1984 and she made it 30 more years after that diagnosis with the limited knowledge and treatment of cancer then. One of the doctors in my ob/gyn practice called after he heard about my diagnosis to tell me how his mother in law had breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes and it didn’t look good but she lived quite a few years beyond this and died from a non-cancerous condition. I appreciated the story as well as him taking the time to offer support following the news of my cancer. (He and another doctor who had breast cancer herself are one of many reasons I love the practice I go to. The doctors go above and beyond and truly care.) But enough about that.
When we hear the word cancer the immediate reaction is often a negative one. It’s scary and overwhelming but we don’t have to go right to death. There are many survivors and not just survivors, thrivers out there. There are people out there fighting who aren’t frail or tied to their beds but are still living pretty normal lives (minus the fatigue and hair loss etc). That is one of the things I wanted to convey throughout my battle. Cancer is frightening and scary but it’s possible to beat the terrible disease despite the diagnosis. It’s possible to look relatively healthy despite undergoing chemo and treatment.
I am grateful to my oncologist, breast surgeon and ob/gyn who all stayed positive which helped me focus on getting through with a good outcome. I still remain incredibly fearful of a recurrence but that’s why there will continue to be a lot of follow up and appointments to make sure it does not happen again. That is why I was absolutely getting a double mastectomy to further limit my risk. That is why my ovaries will eventually come out to even further reduce my risk.
A cancer diagnosis is one of the hardest things to be faced with but instead of focusing on the negative, staying positive helped me through and helped me to kick this cancer’s ass. The disease is deadly and affects way too many people but I hope one day there will be a cure and that treatments continue to improve so there are more and more positive outcomes. When faced with the hard news we must rise to the challenge and face it head on and know the experience while difficult will only make us stronger.
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