I talk to lots of ladies who are at various stages in their breast cancer journeys. I make no secret of the fact that my mission in life now is educating anyone who will listen to me on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I have learned so much through my journey, how to navigate, how to research, and how many tips, tricks, and hacks are out there. I want to make this process more manageable for those who come after me. Sharing is the easiest thing in the world for me.
The area where I struggle is when to shut up.
Most of the time I think the advice or information is welcome. Sometimes it is just lending an ear to someone who has questions, and needs to talk it out. I could do that all day long (and I sometimes do). But there are times when I really have to hold back. When I know my advice or tough love will make things worse.
My biopsy was so painful, nothing can be this bad – I hate to break it to you, but that was the easy part. The good news is that you will get so used to needles, you’ll practically want to start sticking yourself to save time in the doctor’s office.
I just had my first chemo, and I feel great! – So, yeah. I personally didn’t have this experience (I was horrendously sick from my first infusion), but I know others who have. The effects of chemo are cumulative. Meaning that each infusion will hit you a little (or a lot) harder than the one before. Just because you are still going to your spinning class after your first treatment, does not mean you will still be that energetic after the tenth. And please don’t judge those of us who had a harder time. You may be one of us in another month.
I can’t wait until I’m done with treatment so I can have my life back – This is the cruelest lesson of cancer, which is why I try not to spoil the delusion. You need that dream to get you through the day sometimes. But the truth is you don’t really get your life back. You may go back to work, and get more involved with housekeeping or your kids again. But it will hurt. You will be tired, a tired I can’t describe and that I never believe existed in nature. You will still have constant doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and tests. You may be seeing a therapist to make sense of it all, and to combat the anxiety and PTSD. You will have to make a spreadsheet of all your medications. Your side effects will have side effects. You will realize that the life you fought so hard to get back is gone. But you know what? You will have a new life, fresh perspectives, and maybe even a new mission. All you have to do is embrace it.
These are things I would like to say, but I don’t. Because you have to learn these things on your own, and sometimes you just need to believe that your experience will be different. Sometimes the best way to help is to get out of the way.
Or just shut up.
Speaking of new missions, keep an eye out for our website, coming out later this week!