An Introduction From a Two-Time Cancer Survivor

Breast cancer and melanoma survivor Barbara Tako introduces herself.
PUBLISHED July 02, 2015
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.

I recently realized that I leapt in to blogging here without an introduction, so I am going to back up a little and introduce myself. I have been a breast cancer survivor since 2010 and a melanoma survivor since 2014. I do motivational cancer talks in the Midwest and articles here at CURE and cancer.net. Beginning in 1998, I have been a professional seminar leader, speaker and published writer on clutter clearing and home organizing. I have been fortunate to be on television, radio and other media venues across the country. I live, survive and thrive (most days) in Minnesota with my husband, daughters and dogs. My books are available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. I'm also at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com, or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.

I try to approach my cancer diagnoses with a blend of spirituality, inspiration, simplification and humor. As a breast cancer and melanoma survivor, I want to help others diagnosed with cancer to see me here worrying away at topics that address the emotional, mental, spiritual and relationship aspects of a cancer diagnosis. I am not a doctor or a psychotherapist. I am a cancer survivor. Some days I am a cancer survivor who simply thinks about cancer too much.

When I went through cancer the first time with my breast cancer, I felt that doctors were there to address the medical aspects of cancer, but that I needed to find things to address the other aspects of cancer — the anxiety, fear, worry and sleepless nights. My journaling and research resulted in my book “Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools — We’ll get you through this” and my desire to participate in this online community. I am grateful and happy to be here — in more than one sense!

I am still on hormonal therapy for my breast cancer — surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments were completed a few years ago. I still see my dermatologist every three months and find things to biopsy that I would rather not describe. I am struggling with arthritis issues and ongoing fatigue (more about that in an upcoming article). I also work to manage, to varying degrees of success and depending on the moment, my fear of recurrence.

Life has continued to speed forward since my initial breast cancer diagnosis, though many days I wish it would slow down a little. Three years ago, as an only child, I moved my parents up from Iowa to be closer to me. My father passed away two years ago after struggling with dementia and other issues. My mother, at age 80, was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. At least I knew the drill and had great doctors lined up for her to see. My daughters went off to college and one of them has graduated and gotten a job and, more recently, a home near us. Wallpaper removal is my current project!

Cancer has enhanced my gratitude and appreciation for life, but I will never be one of those folks who says that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. Cancer is cancer. Cancer is a disease. Cancer is bad. I would love to have the fear of recurrence not be part of my daily life, but that will never happen. On the other hand, I will say I am grateful for some of the people connections that came through my cancer experiences and I am grateful for some of the life lessons too. That said, yikes! There has to be a different way for, hmm, “personal growth” to happen, right?!

Thank you for reading, and I wish you humor and hope on your own cancer journey. More to follow soon!

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