I know this is a serious topic. Believe me, when I first felt that lump in my breast, there wasn’t a single lighthearted emotion anywhere within me
My partner nicknamed me “Rocky,” as in Balboa, not as in how rocky so many of my days were.
Those of us who fight this battle have to find a way to get in touch with our inner warriors. In my experience, if ever there’s a time for a war-like mentality, it is when you are going through breast cancer.
From what I experienced, and what I learned, five major tips follow.
1. ASK FOR HELP
If you are anything like me, this will be one of the hardest steps. When my former sister-in-law offered to fly from Washington to California for every round of chemotherapy I underwent, at first I demurred. Then (after my partner asked what I was thinking), I called her back and admitted that I would need her help. She flew down every other week, for eight rounds of chemo. My partner, my children and I would have been in such rough shape without her. Take it from me, swallow your pride and ask for help.
2. ASK QUESTIONS
Ask everyone: your doctors, your nurses, your family and friends who have fought this fight. No question is too insignificant – all of it matters. Write your questions down if they come to you at odd hours, otherwise you may forget them.
3. TALK IT OUT
You may want to try to hold it all in, to keep it together. You don’t have to literally talk about your feelings and fears, but you do need to get them out of your head. Write them down, even if just within the pages of a private journal. I started blogging within two weeks of finding that lump, and the shared stories of others were so uplifiting.
4. FIND ENJOYMENT
Yes, this sounds crazy. Breast cancer treatment is no small matter, and you need to find things to do that bring you joy while you go through this. It can be something simple, like a gentle nature walk. Depending on how you feel, you can do what my mother did and paint the entire interior of our house.
5. PROGRAM A PLAYLIST
See, I wasn’t kidding there. Music can soothe our moods, and lift our spirits. Program a playlist for chemo sessions, or for post-surgical recovery. Visualize yourself, healthy and strong again. I treated my surgeries and chemo sessions as if they were the Olympics: I trained mentally and had a soundtrack to go with it. It sounds silly, but it really did help.
Do not give up. There will be days when you may want to. Lie down, rest, but realize that you will overcome and triumph over this disease. It is never as strong as you are. You are a fighter, and this is a battle you will win.