A routine breast cancer screening shows something that needed further examination. A biopsy reveals that the “something” is breast cancer. Hmmmm. There it is. The “C” word, and this time you’re not hearing about someone else’s diagnosis, but yours. It’s pretty shocking – almost hard to believe. Experiencing a million emotions all at once, you desperately want to know what happens next… and after that… you want to know everything right now. You won’t remember most of it anyway because so much adrenaline is coursing through your body, you will leave the doctor’s office with only an appointment card for more tests. You start to realize this process is one thing at a time and you should probably get used to it. But, luckily, you brought someone to your appointment. Your medical appointment “co-pilot” brilliantly thought to take lots of notes and can relay the information back to you later. You didn’t even know that’s what you needed, but someone else did and was there to support you. What a relief. Remember that feeling; you’ll want even more of that support moving forward.
Treatment for cancer affects everyone differently. You are no doubt strong and resilient, but having breast cancer and going through treatment can affect how you feel both inside and out. The challenge of treatment is only part of it. We all have everyday responsibilities that require our attention, like children or other family obligations, making a living, grocery shopping, taking care of the house, cooking. The list can be long. Having a partner in the home to assist with physical tasks is helpful, but even so, help from friends, family, or other volunteers can be meaningful to your journey.
Not only should you reach out for help with everyday tasks, but for emotional support. It is a fact that everyone needs someone or somewhere to turn when things feel stressful or overwhelming. Support is not one-size-fits-all, but rather something to try on and see what fits best. Some people turn to friends and family, join cancer support groups, find comfort in religious or spiritual settings, in online support groups, or prefer one-on-one counseling. The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Helpline is a toll-free number, and they can put you in touch with a group or resource if you’re not sure who can help.
The most important thing to remember is not to walk this journey alone, but gather people or resources that can be a source of strength and comfort during this critical time. Perhaps once you can finally call yourself a survivor, you’ll be there to support someone else.
For more information, please visit our partners at the AK Breast & Cervical Health Partnership Website.