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Brest cancer treatment was a scary experience, but thankfully a survivorship support group helped me heal.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, I had no idea what I was in for. My son was 9 years old, and to be truthful, I was scared.
I underwent a partial mastectomy on the right breast, chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy was a challenge for me mentally and physically. I had eight chemo treatments and 33 radiation treatments.
I remember after my fourth chemotherapy treatment saying I wanted to stop because I felt so sick. I had double eye infections, was terribly dehydrated, had a chest infection and a rash that ran up my wrists from my palms to the middle of my forearms. To say I was a mess was an understatement.
I finally made it through treatment and began taking the post-cancer hormone treatment of tamoxifen.
As I proceeded with the tamoxifen, I began to notice that I was very emotional — happy one moment and crying the next. I remember sitting in front of my refrigerator eating a box of Hostess ho hos crying hysterically. That was when I knew I needed to have support.
I created and co-chaired two cancer support groups with my nurse practitioner, Karen.
The support groups provided educational and healing practices, along with a community of survivors who supported one another. This is when the true healing began.
I learned how to meditate, breathe and relax. We learned how to embrace the new us and found fellowship within the group to help each other through our journeys.
One thing that is noticeable when you are diagnosed with cancer is that people think once you have surgery and go through treatment your journey is over and life goes back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth, for me anyways.
The support group gave me a safe place to share my concerns and be educated on what survivorship means. It provided me with the healing I couldn’t find elsewhere.
As a group, we would attend Camp Good Days and Special Times in upstate New York and where we found fellowship with other survivors. We participated in local cancer walks and Relay for Life events as a group.The support groups helped in the healing and gave me space to feel normal with other survivors.
It was about the five-year time frame that I finally felt I had moved on from being scared of recurrence to being able to enjoy life fully. I began writing my book,“Hope: An A-Z Guide for Cancer Patients, Survivors and Caregivers.”
The process of gathering other cancer survivor stories and writing out my journey was very therapeutic for me. I published my book in 2011.
Along with being an author, today I am a certified life coach, an Optavia health coach, an inspirational and motivational speaker and a licensed massage therapist.
Through my own healing journey, I have been able to help many other cancer patients thrive through their journey.
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