October 21, 2012
Having breast cancer has made me stop and re-evaluate several aspects of my life.
I’ve always been goal oriented and ambitious. I thought if I reached certain milestones, that I could sit back and enjoy life. This experience made me realize that those plans are nice, but tomorrow is not promised to us. So, in consideration of leaving a legacy for my girls, I knew I had better change my way of thinking.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2011, shortly after I found a lump during a routine self-examination. I was surprised. The women in my family are strong and healthy, with few medical concerns.
My care from Cleveland Clinic Florida was proficient, efficient and absolutely amazing. It was refreshing that the team of doctors worked so well together and with me. I was impressed with the level of care.
My friends, family, church members and co-workers prayed with me, sat with me. They sent cards, flowers, edible arrangements, gifts, emails and even meals for my family and me. One girlfriend’s teenage son would make me ginger juice each week following my chemo treatments; it was the only thing that kept my nausea down and my appetite up.
I kept my spirits up by not closing myself off to the world. I prayed several times a day. I laughed a lot. My daughters and their friends would come and sit on the end of my bed and we’d talk, listen to music or sit in silence. I was very open with all the treatments, frustrations and fears that came with my breast cancer.
I would tell someone who’s just been diagnosed or is being treated for breast cancer to go ahead and cry, scream, or holler. Once that is out of your system, ask yourself where and how you see yourself in five years. It will help you push through the times when you won’t be able to see past the next few hours.
Surround yourself with loving people. Get plugged into a house of worship; there is a lot of love and support there. Find a community of breast cancer survivors like the one at Cleveland Clinic Florida or Gilda’s Club of South Florida. Breast cancer survivors can give you advice on the personal things no one talks about, but all deal with. And, steal away some time for yourself; call it a cancer-free day or week.
Now that I am cancer-free, my outlook on life is brighter than ever. It has reinvigorated my goals to continue [working toward] my master’s degree. I also want to complete the business plan for Sarah’s House, a residential program for families.