“Remember: Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
When faced with your mortality, you find yourself in a whole new reality. It changes you. You see things differently, are more aware, and…. Suddenly, I was becoming aware of what the word “mortality” really meant. Was this the thing that was going to destroy me? I did not know what my future held other than that I was going to go through a battle like I could never have imagined I’d go through in life. I have always been a positive person, but that first week of not knowing what was going to happen was debilitating. There was fear and anger. The dark side.
I suppose everyone has a different reaction when they are faced with a terrifying medical issue. On top of being upset, I reacted by thinking and thinking and thinking. I am an introvert, so I think A LOT! What I couldn’t do was to go online and read about breast cancer and the potential treatments I’d have. I just couldn’t do it. So, I had a week of thinking over and over about what was going to happen to me and I swear I went through every possible iteration of what may happen. How bad was it? Did I sign a death sentence by not getting a second opinion right away when I first found the lump? How would this affect my daily life? Will I be able to work and function normally? Would it turn out to be as simple as removing the tumor and I wouldn’t have to tell anyone? That’s what I hoped. I did not want to tell anyone what was going on with me.
What I learned was that my journey was not going to be that simple, however. I was relieved to find out that my cancer was not in an advanced stage. THANK GOODNESS. I had some light back in my life. However, my treatment plan included chemotherapy and then surgery. Then, depending on the type of surgery, possibly radiation. Chemotherapy, though… I was not expecting that. My tumor was both estrogen receptor positive and HER2 positive. Like, thanks A LOT estrogen for turning against me!! Not cool!
What I also learned in those first moments, days, and weeks was that I had to let myself be upset. I had to go through those emotions of being afraid of what would happen to me and angry that I was having to go through it. Clearly, I had a right to be upset! But one thing I would not let myself do was pity myself. Yes, this happened. There was really no reason for it to happen, but it happened… However, I wasn’t going to allow myself to sit there and think, “Why me, why me…” I think that would have been the worst thing I could have done. I HAD to accept that this happened to me. I HAD to tell myself that I would survive this. This acceptance and the positive attitude I regained helped me focus on getting better and powering through all the difficult things that were happening and going to happen. I truly believe that has gotten me through this journey so far.
Side note: My hope for this blog is that people will read this and find that there is positivity and hope to be found even in the darkest of circumstances. I have cancer, but this could be applied to a billion other situations. This is something that I will continue to address in my blog posts. Do. Not. Give. Up.
Coming up – Episode 2: Attack of the Chemo