Looking back on my breast cancer experience, I contemplate what it means to thrive.
What does it really mean to “thrive”? I ask this question every morning as I get dressed and see the long mastectomy scar where my right breast once lived. “Earl” was his name and I have no idea where the name came from, but it just stuck with me.
Earl had one nice-sized lump that I could feel, and the biopsy confirmed there was another lump that I couldn’t see. This turn of events changed the trajectory from a lumpectomy to a mastectomy quickly! I was sold on the lumpectomy because for me it meant a bit of normalcy.
On Feb. 1, 2018, I had a unilateral mastectomy. Earl was evicted. Chemotherapy started shortly after, and I rang the bell on June 1, 2018 — a very momentous occasion that I celebrate every year. I am a survivor and now a thriver!
Thriving for me means getting up every day thanking God for life. I have neuropathy in my feet and hands and lymphedema in my arms, hot flashes, fatigue and the list goes on and on. Every potential side effect decided to be my friend.
I chose to embrace the challenges with a positive attitude and elude positive vibes every day. Do I get tired? Do I get angry? Do I ask “why me?”Do I wish family and friends truly understood? Do I wish that I didn’t have to be a burden on my caregiver daughter? The answer is a resounding YES! But guess what? No one ever said life would be easy and I have found that during my storms, God always shows me a way to cope.
I have shed a few tears on this road to thriving, but I intend to be the best thriver that I can be. I am great at researching and I join groups that offer support and experiences. As a thriver, it consoles me to read about how others are handling side effects and what works or did not work for them.
Most recently, I had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. My breast cancer was estrogen positive so I vowed to reduce the production levels as best I could to keep cancer cells from returning.
I recovered well with the help of my daughter and prayers from my friends and family. The first two weeks were lovely and by week three, the side effects of hot flushes and insomnia decided to join the party.
A hot flush has nothing on a hot flash! Actually, I would give anything to have a hot flash, but the way my life is set up, I go big or go home. So hot flushes take over like a tidal wave and wreak havoc for a good three to five seconds — just enough sweat to mess up my hair style! I have never experienced anything like it.
Thriving means you are constantly looking for ways to manage and cope with all the other life situations that stir up. When the fatigue kicks in, I lean into it. I have learned that your body will tell you when it needs rest. Thriving means that I am on a hormonal blocker Arimidex (anastrozole) for another six years. Thriving means that I can’t carry stress around and harbor ill will in my heart. Thriving means that day after day I choose JOY.
My morning always begins with “Thank you Jesus for this day.” Once I get up and shake the neuropathy loose and get my bones moving, I am unstoppable.
I would love to end with sharing that thriving for me can look the same for you. Sometimes we must look a little deeper and when all else fails know that joy comes in the morning.
This post was written and submitted by Felicia Robinson, the author of, “Surviving Pink: An Inspirational Story of How a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Strengthened a Mother Daughter Relationship.” The article reflects the views of Felicia Robinson and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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