There were so many emotions that I experienced in 2003 when the doctor confirmed I had Breast Cancer; I was overwhelmed. That was a point in my life that seemed to play out in slow motion. I was in a perpetual state of emotional turmoil. I had so many different emotions surfacing then, some of them I couldn't even identify.
There were many days when I was bombarded by questions for which I didn't have the answers; and in some instances, I had answers but no questions. I sometimes felt like I had been punched by a world class boxer in the middle of my stomach; all the air was knocked out of me.I couldn't catch my breath, and for a little while I allowed this to be my reality.
I certainly felt that I was entitled; poor me. I wallowed in my self pity, my anger, my frustration, and my zombie- like state of total helplessness- for a little while; but soon self pity, and anger, and helplessness- to my surprise- became my licking stick. I was being hurt by the very emotions that made me feel validated. I was being betrayed by those same feelings that gave me a sense of safety. I was a prisoner of all my fears. In reality I was spiritually exposed, my emotions were raw; I was vulnerable.
I remember thinking, how dare cancer invade my breast? I remember thinking no one in the family ever had cancer, so how could I get breast cancer? I remember trying to pin point a time when I may have done something to attract breast cancer. I remember trying to figure out why a vegetarian, health conscious nut would get breast cancer?any cancer.
This was not supposed to happen to me; it had to be a mistake. They were all legitimate, reasonable thoughts and questions for which I had no answers.
I was scared, I was angry, I felt alienated, I was proud, I was determined, I was in shock, I was depressed, I was sorry for me. I was suffering and I wanted to suffer alone. I wanted no assistance because no one else understood. I was adamant in my efforts to lock everyone who cared about me out of the circle of my conflicting emotions; so I kept all those emotions under cover. I couldn't show it to anyone. I was stalwart in the presence of adversity?and the pressure kept building, silently.
I rode this emotional rollercoaster for what seemed like an eternity. I was too scared, proud, angry, shocked, and confused to break down in front of anyone, or so I thought.
One day, I came to an emotional/ spiritual impasse. The pressure was building on both levels, and when it erupted, it did so unexpectedly. It did so with great pizzazz.
I was all alone when the lid blew. I threw an emotional tantrum. I was praying and I thought I was doing great until all hell broke loose. Somewhere during my praying, I started reasoning with God and cancer. Then unknowingly I moved on to pleading; I was scared. I was so scared. I could barely move. I was overcome by the fear of being ravished and dying a horrible death. I was overcome by pride of not wanting anyone to see me physically debilitated and withering away. I was hot, I was cold?I felt trapped in a multitude of emotions?I couldn't breathe?I started hyper-ventilating. My head was spinning from all the conflicting, confusing emotions that surfaced that day.
Fear soon became anger and frustration. I stood in front of the Dresser mirror and I started a conversation with Breast Cancer- like it was a real person; I found myself calling it DeMon. I was tired of being scared to the point of immobility on all levels. I was pissed it chose to set up residence in my little breast. I had had enough; it was time to face my demon; time to handle my business. It was time for cancer to feel my true inner strength. I decided at that moment to fight back - I don't even remember going into the shower, but that is where my daughter and my granddaughter found me screaming, cursing, and beating the stuffing out of the shower walls I had a cry to end all crying.
They both came into the shower with me and we all had a good cry together. When I stepped out of the shower that day, I affirmed my intentions to cancer- You want a fight cancer? Well, you got one on your hands now. You don't know the half of it. I am going to kick your a**...and, I am going to do it in the name of my God.
It was therapeutic. It was cleansing. It was refreshing.
After that episode, I felt better than I had felt since I got the ? you have aggressive breast cancer- news. I was able to tell my daughters why I was crying, why I had suddenly become a recluse, and why I was so moody and aloof. I was able to explain how I really felt- no holds barred. Somehow, in the midst of all the turmoil I found a way to deal with my breast cancer issues; no more cowering in the dark, no more hiding from the reality of my situation, no more intimidation from DeMon .The time had come for me to set my parameters for this disease. I discarded reactive for proactive measures. I started writing my feelings down in my journals.
I made a list of my expectations-wants/needs, and I made concrete plans to defeat breast cancer. I replaced the fear of suffering and death with the will to live a happy productive and healthy life - cancer free.
I am a breast cancer survivor. I continue to write and counsel survivors about keeping a positive attitude and enjoying all that life has to offer. Mastectomy is not the end of our world...the spread of cancer can be and I truly believe that a positive attitude helps. I have claimed my quality of life back and despite all the side effects of Chemo and Radiation treatments, Neuropathy and Vertigo, I am as sexy and as vibrant as I want to be. I have to make adjustments on a daily basis but I am still here...alive and now living cancer free. I kicked breast cancer's butt and you certainly can do.
Remember- the best protection is early detection. Put cancer in it's place under God and under you and move forward on faith confident in God's promise that He will come to your aid if you ask. I am living proof of it.