November 10th, 2017
| Survivor: Breast Cancer
It was Father’s Day of June, 2014. We were going to celebrate with my dad at my sister’s house and I was thinking, “Why do I always wait until the last minute, to wrap the gift, to write out the card, to get myself ready? Why am I ALWAYS late?” I jumped in the shower and thought, “I’ll just hurry up and get ready, it will be o.k., and we’ll make it on time.”
As I frantically washed, my mind raced with all the unfinished tasks that still needed to be done. Suddenly, I felt something on my body that didn’t feel quite right. It was a thickening in my right breast and I had an overwhelming feeling that this was probably not going to be good. That day, I told no one; after all, it was probably going to be nothing.
The next morning I called my doctor. She got me in that day and verified that yes, it was a lump, not just some figment of my imagination like I had hoped. Still, I clung to the idea that it would be nothing. I was perfectly healthy. Actually, I had just lost some weight and was exercising and drinking tons of green tea, so I believed there was little chance of this being anything serious.
What followed was an ultrasound, biopsy and an appointment with the breast cancer specialist.
My biopsy results were not even back and this doctor looked at me and said, “It’s going to be malignant.” Just like that, with no hesitation. I told him that he was probably going to be wrong, and he said that I could think whatever I wanted, but that the biopsy would show malignancy.
I felt a huge weight pressing down on me. I felt weak. I was there by myself and it seemed like no one understood. Really, cancer? Me?
Turns out he was right: It was cancer. The next 18 months were a whirlwind of medical visits and procedures. First surgery, then chemotherapy, and last was radiation.
I wondered if I would survive. I wondered if the chemo would lower my immunity and I would catch some dreaded infection. I wondered and wondered until I realized that my mind could continue to wonder, but that it wasn’t going to change a thing. So the question then became: What exactly could I control with all of this? I knew one thing: my mind was a mess. I knew stress, but this was ridiculous.
I started searching for answers. I began a self-study course on how to decrease stress and anxiety, and in that course, they recommended some supplemental reading. I randomly chose a book off the list titled What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter. This book turned out to be truly life changing. I finished it in one day and realized the key to any hope of well-being for my future was in this book. And the answer was free and was already within me!
The answer was my own self-talk and what I was telling myself for the last 50 years or so. I knew that much of what I was living was based on those old, familiar stories in my head that kept playing over and over again. What I didn’t know was that I could change those negative thought patterns and with that, I could change my life!
Instantly I felt a rush of energy, excitement and hope. From that day forward, my life started changing. I got through my treatment and the doctors say that I am now cancer-free! This new found self-talk has moved me from panic to power and for the first time I can truly say that I am living each moment of my life to the fullest, with joy and anticipation.
I’m sad that it took cancer to bring me to where I needed to be, but nonetheless I am grateful for the journey. I am on a mission now, as a Cancer Journey Success Coach, to help people navigate their way through the cancer journey. Because when it comes to cancer, we must believe that there are answers.
What are some thought patterns that you have changed since your journey with cancer? Share in the comments below!
Image courtesy of Vladlane Vadek
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