Doris Cardwell received a life-changing diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer in 2007. While undergoing treatment, she co-founded a mentor program for the cancer center treating her. She also created community events to educate, encourage and empower people regarding cancer. Doris was the first Survivorship Community Outreach Liaison for her local cancer center. She is an advocate, educator and encourager on issues facing cancer survivors. Doris is a wife, mother, empty nester, survivor of life and lover of all things coffee. An avid speaker and blogger, she is available at www.justdoris.com.
Many people don't realize they are putting pressure on those walking though cancer to keep a good attitude. There are days we all need to be able to acknowledge that it can be difficult.
Many people have asked me how I dealt with inflammatory breast cancer so well. That is an interesting question. Dealing with something well is a subjective issue. How does one determine if you are dealing with something well? It could mean so many different things to many different people.
If it means not being rude to people who say I thought you were dying but "you look so good" (it happened), then yes. I was handling it well. If well means not sleeping some nights because of gripping fear, I had it covered. If it means a resolve to enjoy the little things, I purposed to do it well. If it means laying in the floor crying your eyes out, yep had those days too. Yet most would say I handled it well.
Dealing with cancer and its related life changes is very individual.
Outlook, attitude and emotional stability are all related to so many things. There were days I cried, days I laughed, days I wanted to talk about it and days I didn't. There were times I avoided people, times I wanted to be around people, times I hated and times I loved. There can be a lot of pressure for patients and survivors to keep up the "fight" to have a happy face and to respond and act how others think they should. I realize I have been guilty of that, too.
No one should have pressure to handle cancer in any specific way. We are all different people and what seems like "handling it well" to one may be detrimental to another. If someone you love is walking through cancer, please, allow them to be where they are. Let them process what they are feeling without the pressure of doing it well. If you are dealing with cancer, give yourself permission to be where you are. It is not healthy to be in the pits every day. It also unhealthy to think you have to make lemonade out of life giving you lemons each day. In a perfect world, we would all know how to handle hard things with strength. But if the world was perfect, there would be no cancer, no hard things and no need for strength in facing cancer.