For Breast Cancer Awareness Month….If I had the luxury of hindsight here is a letter I would write to myself about my breast cancer journey:
Today is a Monday in 2002 and it is not going to be a normal day or a normal week. In fact your life will not be the same again. Your yearly mammogram looks like textbook perfect breast cancer. Your Doctor is going to send you to a surgeon.
You are going to feel numb, mad, impatient and go into denial. That’s OK. Realize you are lucky because there is no gray area. No need for a biopsy, no need for a second opinion, no waiting for additional results, it is very clear breast cancer.
By Thursday of the same week you will find yourself in the hospital having a lumpectomy. The outcome is not great. The tumor is big and the cancer is invasive to the lymph nodes. This isn’t what you wanted to hear and you will cry a lot. That’s OK.
Your doctor recommends an oncologist that she thinks you will really like. He is smart, has a sense of humor and nerdy. This is great advice. You will really like and trust him. Taking advice from Doctors is something that will help you in your recovery. You have been in pharmaceutical sales for decades and you can speak medical jargon. You are familiar with medical protocols. You are lucky to have this background and this knowledge and it will help you in dispelling stupid comments and myths from people who think they mean well.
I know you want to maintain semblance of your normal life but taking a leave of absence from work would be helpful. Part time work while it seems doable will wear you out. The chemotherapy will knock you down. You will be thrown into menopause at age 48 with drenching night sweats and horrible hot flashes. Your coping skills will be tested.
Yes it sounds horrible but there will be some major positive experiences. Your husband will be with you on every appointment. Your sister will call you every day. Your friends will take you to lunch when foods don’t taste like metal. You will feel loved. You will be able to maintain your sense of humor when your drawn on eyebrows are heading south down your face or when you notice your wig is sideways. You will help friends with their breast cancer diagnosis. You will become a breast cancer advocate. You will crave fish and yogurt.
You will become thoughtful about your future. You will take your strength from facing down cancer to a new career path. Your cancer experience will lead you to become an entrepreneur. You will start your own company helping other women cope with night sweats. You will give your company your values and you will donate a percentage of every sale to breast cancer research. You will use other cancer survivors and their daughters as models. You will build a career legacy. You will survive. You will still crave fish and yogurt!
CEO Haralee.Com Sleepwear
Monday in 2013.
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