The first thing I want to say to you is this; anything you feel right now is absolutely normal, acceptable, understandable, and is experienced by anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer. There are scores of thousands of us out there, who have experienced all that you are feeling, and have yet to feel. You are not alone.
Whenever things get really bad, and you feel shaken, dejected and afraid, just try to remember these four little words; I AM NOT ALONE. It doesn’t make your situation any better to be told so many others are suffering like you are but, in many ways, knowing that others understand what you are going through and exactly how you are feeling about what is happening to you will help to comfort you.
They can all empathise because they are all experiencing the same feelings and fears, or have done so in the past. And those emotions are unforgettable; all of us remember how we felt when we first discovered the lump or other abnormality in our breast, the anxiety of waiting for the scan results, the sheer terror of anticipating the biopsy result, then being told that we had been positively diagnosed as having breast cancer, listening to the doctor explaining how the cancer would be treated but not really hearing because it all seemed so unreal, knowing that we would lose part or all of our breast, dreading the prospect of having to endure the harsh, punishing treatment of chemotherapy in order to have the best chance of survival.
Who could ever forget how they felt when faced with all of this? Not you, and certainly not I. But because you are here with me now, I can call on those feelings and fears from my past and use them to try to help you. This might be a good time for you to go make yourself a nice, warm, soothing drink, then come back and sit with me, comfortable and comforted, and read on.
The fact that you have visited this site indicates you have an interest in breast cancer. You may be someone who actually has this disease, or has concerns about someone close to you who does. Your interest may be simply one of curiosity, or perhaps you are a member of the medical profession, or someone who is involved in the support and care of breast cancer patients. If you fall into the last three categories I’d like you to know that what you will find here won’t be a list of medical facts, or a generalised summary of the types and natures of breast cancer in all its forms. What you will gain is clear insight into what goes on in the mind of a breast cancer sufferer and, if they have one, their partner.
This is what my site is all about; making others aware of what it’s really like to have this disease. It’s a site for people having or living with breast cancer, by someone who has had it and survived. This isn’t to say it won’t be helpful to you; on the contrary, one retired nursing sister who trained student nurses in the palliative care of cancer patients read the book I have written about my experiences of having breast cancer, and wrote a review. If you are close to someone with breast cancer and are looking for ways in which to best support them, or needing a bit of understanding yourself because you are finding it so hard, seeing the person you love going through their ordeal, you will, hopefully, find help on this site. But if you are someone who has breast cancer, either newly-diagnosed or further into your treatment, this site is for you, and I want you to feel especially welcome here.
To be told we have cancer is terrifying. When we hear that six-letter word used in relation to ourselves, or someone we love and care about, we immediately fear the worst. We feel shaken to the very core of our being. Suddenly, we find ourselves merely existing, as opposed to living, because the old, familiar, happy little world we used to live in has vanished in the few seconds it took for the doctor to give us the bad news. In its place is a world of uncertainty, fear, doubt, despair and, it seems, unreality. A dark world, where the light that used to illuminate it appears to have been extinguished.
But, if we gaze steadily into that penetrating darkness, we can see one tiny spark. This little spark is that light, it’s still shining for us, still there to guide us back to the ‘home’ we once knew. It looks so small because the darkness has invaded the space between our light and our being. But, because it’s so brilliant, so unquenchable, the light penetrates this darkness like a star shining in the night sky.
We all know that stars are gigantic suns, just like the sun that gives life to our planet. They appear minute because they are billions and billions of miles away. So it is with your light. It’s always there, it will never desert you, and as you journey through the darkness so your light will become larger and more brilliant with each and every step you take.
It’s a long, tedious and exhausting journey that lies before you, on a road full of sudden twists and turns that will confuse you, rocks and boulders over which you’ll stumble and fall, deep pits into which you’ll sometimes tumble head first. But your strength and determination to reach the end of this road will help you to overcome these obstacles, and as you near the end of your journey that wonderful light of yours will be shining as brightly for you as it ever did before you developed breast cancer. Trust in your light, see it every day, and at night before you go to sleep look for it’s little spark somewhere in the darkness of your room.
Acknowledge that your light still shines and you’ve made the first, vital move in creating a positive mental attitude to your disease. This is your greatest asset, your most valuable and effective weapon. Use it every day and you’ll develop such skill in handling it that your breast cancer will stand less or little chance of victory over you. Or even no chance at all. Become, if you like, a warrior. Think and act as a warrior, always one step ahead of the enemy. Deal with the onslaughts as they come, one at a time, giving all to each individual battle in the war you’re determined to win.
Trust your doctors. Their skills, expertise and experience are your lifeline. Surgeons, oncologists, radiographers and nurses all form your army of supporters. These wonderful people will shield and protect you, giving you the things you need to help you overcome this formidable opponent you face. If at any time you feel confused about what’s happening to you, or there are things you want to know, ask.
Be aware of what is being done to help you, and why. If we’re on an unfamiliar road it’s often far easier to reach our destination if we stop along the way to ask someone for directions. Never be afraid to ask the doctors and nurses caring for you if there is anything you want, or need, to know. It’s usually the unknown that creates the most fear in us. Once we know the facts, once we are aware, we can deal with the reality instead of allowing ourselves to be frightened by our imaginings.