Breast cancer taught me to slow down… We are all so used to getting up and being on the go all the time. Often our success is measured by how much we can accomplish in a day. Our world rewards speed, doing, and multitasking. You will often see on social media how early people get up, and how much they can get done before most of us even wake up. It is hard to see this and not compare yourself to others. I remember before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2019 being the same way. Charging through my day fueled by stress and caffeine. I would go to bed the night before already stressed about everything I needed to get done the next day. The funny thing now, is over two years later I don’t remember any of the tasks that I was stressed about which makes me realize that they clearly were not that important, to begin with.
I remember talking with my friends and all we discussed was how busy we all were. I would rush through tasks, not even focused on what I was doing but always thinking about the next thing I had to do. I remember thinking the more I got done the more valuable I would feel. All of that changed after my diagnosis. Like many of you, I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. This massive surgery required me to slow down and do things much slower than I was used to for months. I remember my surgeon telling me that in order for me to properly heal I had to behave like a sloth. This was the complete opposite of how I had lived my life up until that point. However, something deep down appealed to me about taking a break.
Adjusting to slowing down
This was the first time in my life that I could just rest and take care of myself. So instead of trying to get back to my usual routine too quickly, I took the opportunity to slow things down. My mornings that were always "get up and go" became slower, and have remained that way years later. I moved through my day slower and started to actually pay attention to what I was doing while I was doing it instead of thinking about what I had to do next. I realized when I slowed down and paid attention to each task that I was even more productive than I used to be. This was so fascinating because I had always associated speed with success. It wasn’t until I was healing from breast cancer that I saw this whole different side of myself. I took my surgeon's advice and became a sloth for 3 months post-surgery. What surprised me is how much I enjoyed having that downtime. I make sure to build downtime in each day now where I behave like a sloth… even if it’s just 10 minutes. In a world that is so fast-paced and we are always rushing, I am reminding you to take some time to slow down. Everything that needs to get done will get done and if it doesn’t then it wasn’t that important, to begin with.
How have you changed since your advanced breast cancer diagnosis?
Has metastatic breast cancer affected your ability to start or maintain romantic relationships?