Breast cancer treatment can be challenging to go through. Even the most positive patients have days when they feel down. But, you have a community of patients and survivors to support you, and you also have hope.
For seven months, I underwent 16 different cancer treatments, including a one-sided mastectomy. During this season of my life, there were countless times when my strength seemed to fail me. I remember one day in particular when I was sitting in my car, and the weight of everything that was happening seemed to come crashing down on me. I just broke. I never knew I could cry like that before — loud, wrenching sobs from deep inside of myself.
Why me, I thought. What did I do to deserve this? I screamed about how unfair this was. I cried for myself, my body, my femininity. I wept over the emotional strain I had placed on my beloved family and friends. I had never let myself break like that before. And as I calmed down and the blasting AC dried my tears, I felt cleansed.
I was alive. I was breathing. And although there was a war to fight, I wasn’t alone in the battle. From the moment I found out I had breast cancer and throughout the entire chemo process, I was surrounded by a wall of love, and my family was always there to help. They were the strong soldiers standing by my side. Not only did this thought give me strength, but it also helped me remain positive, reminding me that I had plenty to wake up to.
It’s not easy to fight cancer, but on those days when you feel like it’s too much and you might break, remember that you’re not alone. It’s important to keep the following facts in mind when the fight gets especially tough.
1. You Aren’t the Only One
When you go through a difficult experience like breast cancer, it can be easy to feel alone. You might not know anyone else who has breast cancer, making you feel more lonely than you have to. Did you know that one in eight American women get a breast cancer diagnosis? You have a large community of patients who know exactly what you’re going through. Look into local breast cancer support groups to find solidarity with patients like you.
2. It’s Okay to Break Down
We affirm that breast cancer patients have hope and strength. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel good 24/7. In fact, it would be unrealistic to expect yourself to. You’re still human, and we all feel upset from time to time, especially going through a difficult experience like breast cancer. If you need to cry, then cry. That breakdown in my car was just what I needed at the time. Then, seek out your loved ones when you have a hard time feeling like you can fight.
3. Your Cancer Doesn’t Define You
People dealing with cancer sometimes feel like it defines them. The recovery process takes a lot of time and hard work, making it hard to remember that you are so much more than your illness. Cancer patients like you still have plenty of individual characteristics that make them unique. Focus on the activities, causes and people you love so you can remind yourself of everything you have to offer.
4. The Odds Are Better Than Ever
Breast cancer patients have better treatment options than ever. The United States has over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors, so you have a great chance of joining their ranks. If you detect your breast cancer early, you have a 98% five-year survival rate. Plenty of women survive the fight against breast cancer — you can too.
5. You Have Tons of Resources
In addition to treatment options, you have an unprecedented number of support resources. Online guides and communities can educate you about your cancer and help you socialize with others just like you. You can get similar benefits from in-person support groups and educational events. Also, plenty of events like charity drives and galas are specially made for women with breast cancer.
Products like Pink Perfect prosthetic nipples, designed to help patients, can allow you to feel like yourself again. Many of them can also get reimbursed by non-profit organizations and insurance.