I had dealt with multiple family members with cancer, but didn't think it would happen to me.
To any of my pink sisters and their families out there, please remember that you are never, ever alone. You got this and you will make it through! My advice to anyone newly diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer is to do the following:
1) Take a deep breath.
2) Let out your emotions (and they could range from crying, shouting, weeping, screaming). That is very much OK and healthy to do.
3) Seek professional mental help from a psychologist, mental health counselor, family counselor, clergy, etc.
4) Don’t be in denial and start meeting with your oncology team (may include your surgical oncology, surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, dietician, social worker and breast cancer navigator) to evaluate options for your treatment plan.
5) The treatment plan may be very brutal. Know that you can take things one step at a time and follow your oncology team’s recommendations.
What I wish people understood about breast cancer diagnosis is that at first it is extremely overwhelming, and it almost feels like being hit by a never-ending and relentless storm of activities and emotions. Every single person I am encountering throughout this journey (from my clinical team, to the grocery store clerks, to my other pink sisters I have met through multiple breast cancer support groups, I say "thank you!”
I started my breast cancer journey in 2021. Prior to that, as a woman of African descent who had spent my last 30 years in the U.S., I had dealt with histories of multiple family members with cancer — including lung cancer, melanoma, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer.
I had previously worked as an oncology nurse, and nothing prepared me for the reality of facing my own breast cancer diagnosis, surgeries, radiation and hormone treatments. It has been intense, for sure. I am committed to spreading my testimony of the Lord's unwavering faithfulness, His healing power and His covering and staying optimistic and feisty, while continuing to raise awareness about breast cancer and building communities, particularly in disproportionately affected communities.
I have noticed a few differences in side effects (hot flashes and initial grief with the double mastectomy), quality of life (I have overwhelmed with deep gratitude for this journey! It’s weird, but so true) or insurance coverage between the originally prescribed regimen and the new one. My initial treatment plan given the right ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) was lumpectomy. That plan quickly changed after my subsequent MRI and biopsies on the left. I decided and was at peace with double mastectomy (my strong preference) and subsequent radiation post-op.
Some of my challenges during this journey have come with needing to come to terms with the diagnosis initially, and once treatment began, it’s been coming to terms with and embracing my new normal every single day at a time. My life changed after finding breastcancer.org because I have found it immensely helpful to read the stories of my other pink sisters and as I noted earlier, it really does take a village. Every pink warrior’s story matters and makes a big difference.
This post was written and submitted by a CURE reader. The article reflects the views the author and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.