Living with Breast Cancer

I’ve spent my life in the shadow of this disease. In the 60s and 70s it seemed barbaric what they did to my mother and many of her sisters as they continued to fight on for the last five to 10 years of their lives. My mother’s doctor refused to increase her pain killers as she lay dying during the last seven months. His reasoning: she’ll become addicted. Become addicted!? And then when she passed away he wrote her death up as caused by malnutrition. After all she didn’t eat. Right?  It was barbaric then. It is not now.

We have hope and longer lives and easier passages. We have early detection and surgical as well as therapeutic advancements. I live in a small community and I have several female friends of a certain age who are surviving breast cancer. In a small town it is odd to know more than a handful, but I do and none of them live with it as a definer. I think that’s the key.

Once the verdict is in and you decide to digest it, tell the kids, get your ducks lined up in a row, you have to grit your teeth and agree to the path. That changes your perspective. Even about yourself. It can also change your family’s direction. The women I know have met this head on and to quote Fran Drescher, ‘cancer shmancer’. Get on with it. Have your life- take time out to pay attention to the good people and good things you live amongst. B R E A T H E   There are the 5 common steps: detection, biopsy, chemo, radiation, surgery.  You’re scarred and amputated. Even if you have reconstruction, another seemingly endless journey, you have doubts, renewed body awareness, sexuality confrontations internally and with your partner.  As alone as you think you are, you aren’t alone.  And that can make a remarkable difference in your healing.  It’s ok to lean on friends and family.  Just ask.  We’ll be there and help spread and share the burden.  It might be then you recognize the shift in identity and loss.  You pray it’s temporary and that when it’s done and you’ve made it, the value you and your choices bring to this world matter.  You can see things better.  You recognize what’s worthy.

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