10 truths I’ve learned these past 5 years and what I would do differently if I had the chance.
1. It’s okay to grieve. Cancer changes everything- physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. From the diagnosis to the 7 surgeries, 16 rounds of chemo, 33 rounds of radiation, years of hormone therapy to the loss of friendships, marriage, fertility, and the life I had pre cancer. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a different life and abandoned life plans. It’s okay to grieve the loss of physical traits such as hair, boobs, eyebrows, eyelashes, and a strong physique. It’s okay to grieve the loss of friendships that you thought were rock solid. It’s okay to grieve the loss of your first love (or what you thought was love). It’s okay to be sad. You don’t have to be strong ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Be a fuckin human being and MAKE THE TIME to grieve.
2. Don’t use alcohol, other substances or lifestyle habits (i.e. excessively working out) as a means to cope with trauma after cancer treatment. I’ll elaborate on that on another post. That’s a lot to unpack lol
3. Don’t compare your journey with others. Your path through cancer treatment is as unique as the genetic makeup of the cancer that has infiltrated your body. It was awesome to have so much love and support from friends and family during such a difficult season of my life. I’ve always been open and honest about my journey and struggles, but for those who are more private may feel as if their journey isn’t as significant or as supported. It’s okay to be private about your journey. You don’t need a parade or a party at every chemo to have your feelings validated and that know that you are loved.
4. Get your eyebrows microbladed and eyeliner tattooed prior to chemo. Just trust me on this.
5. Find a therapy that works well for you to work through trauma. Cancer is traumatic. Let’s stop pretending it’s not. I have found that non traditional therapy works best for me. Reiki and other modalities work better for me to work though my issues.
You have to be your own advocate.
6. No one is else is going to fight this battle for you, and it’s easy just to become just another cancer patient in a large healthcare system.
7. Give yourself time to be sick. I didn’t have the luxury of having FMLA so I worked throughout all my my treatment. And on my off days I worried too much about not being a good wife or a good mom, that I ran myself ragged. My husband left anyway, and my daughter loves me unconditionally. I regret not taking more time for myself during treatment.
8. Don’t play in to the victimhood of a cancer diagnosis. This is a slippery slope. It’s easy to #yolo hard after cancer, but the reality is that you are still an adult and you have responsibilities. It’s easy to throw caution to the wind and just say f*ck it to a lot of it because “I had cancer”. And it’s also easy to say a lot of “no” to opportunities out of fear because of “I has cancer”.
9. Girl, take your meds. If your doctor prescribes you medication to help with mental health issues such as anxiety/depression during or post treatment. Just do it. You’re not a hero or strong for trying to do it on your own. You’re actually hurting yourself (or others) by letting your ego convince you you’re above needing help.
10. You are enough. Don’t give up.