Groundhog Day Comes Twice a Year
Every time August rolls, around, I see myself recoil; from everyone and everything. It's a slow process. As the days’ tick by; the black hole, I found myself in 2013 is slowly swallowing me back in. Except for that day, there was a bomb inside that exploded and blew my world to pieces. It wasn't always like this. After my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, August became my ”Groundhog Day.”
Advice for someone newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer
I'm often asked what advice would I give to someone newly diagnosed with MBC. I wish I had profound information to pass on. People are as unique as they are similar. There are books upon books written about this subject. We will all move through this in our way; there is no perfect path. There is no right or wrong. For example, I would go back and tell "newly diagnosed me” that under no circumstances am I to Google the terms: "prognosis", ”survival rate,” or "mbc and death sentence.” I would explain that anything I read isn't necessarily speaking to me. Each person responds to their treatment differently; that even though there's no cure, there are some people that live longer. (Wasted breath). I know for a fact ”newly diagnosed me” would tell present-day 6 yr mbc patient me, to go straight to hell.
- Be prepared to lose some friends. Some people aren't equipped to handle the fact that mbc has no cure. The words "terminal", "stage 4" are scarier than cancer. Don't be angry with them. It's more important to know who you can count on when you're going to need help with meals, babysitting, transportation.
- Do not feel obligated to put on a happy face 24/7. Experiencing all of your feelings IS healthy, and there's no scientific evidence that non-stop positivity cures cancer. It's ok to be sad or mad. Nothing good comes from bottling up feelings. A helpful exercise is writing. Keeping a diary to excise the shitty feelings from whatever happened during the day is cathartic. I've taken something I've written and then burned it. Watching the paper burn gave me a sense of freedom from all of the emotions that felt like a strangling grip.
- Don't forget to take care of YOU. Self-care is essential, and it will be easy to forget. At least once a week carve out a few hours a day or better yet an entire day just for you. That can look like whatever you want it to as long as it's what YOU want to do. Quiet time, a bubble bath, going to the movies, date night, time with your friends, memorable family time. Do something that recharges your soul.
Living despite metastatic breast cancer
Those are my pearls of wisdom as I mentally relive the events of this month from six years ago. I refuse to call it a ”cancerversary.” It implies it's something to celebrate. Still being alive is cause for celebration; however, it's despite cancer not because of it; therefore, I reject the word.
On the 28th of August, I will be raising my glass to my oncologist, my treatment plan & Lady Luck; and I'll be crossing my fingers for another year.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?