“You have invasive Breast Cancer.”
Eight years of struggling with infertility and the moment I was waiting for was happening….yes it really was. My DAUGHTER was about to be born! My husband and I decided to go the route of adoption after failed infertility treatments, psychics talking to “spirit babies”, swallowing rocks from Bethlehem and more…..but first let me just get my routine mammogram because God knows I am not going to have time for doctors’ since I will be taking care of a newborn. Ummm……that didn’t happen the way I planned. I literally got the call on the way to the airport…Breast cancer, BRCA gene, surgeries and chemotherapy….fabulous. But I just want to be a mom and take care of my baby…sound familiar?
Going through surgeries and treatments while raising a family is not easy. Babysitters, mommy sitters for us to help when we just couldn’t do it….but the second shock I got was how I felt once I was given the fabulous news that the cancer was gone and I had completed all the treatments and surgeries. “Good news Keri, I don’t need to see you for awhile. You are doing well.” So….Did I do a HAPPY dance? Did I celebrate? No, none of that. Instead I felt depressed, tired, guilty and nuts all at once.
My body was soooo different. My fake boobs were a total downgrade from what I had, my hormones were gone, my long locks were gone, I was heavier than ever, I was quite simply exhausted, I felt guilty that I wasn’t happy and finally I was sure I was certifiably insane for not being HAPPY with this news. And…all the well meaning people in your life saying, “OMG you must be thrilled with being DONE!” Ugh….yes I am so freaking fabulous thanks! And if one more person told me I was brave or strong I think I may snap. I did what I had to do to be with my kids, to survive, to be here longer period end of story no “battle” and no “award” to win. Just taking it a day at a time and getting through. The medical community did their job and my “body” was cancer free, but I just wanted to be back to who I was BEFORE cancer.
I spent months in this place of longing for the old me and it just caused more suffering. If you had a car accident and broke your leg and arm even though they would heal you still wouldn’t be the same person after, no matter what. But somehow after breast cancer I really expected to be “back to normal”.
The piece that really isn’t addressed is the emotional parts that are damaged during this horrific time. Support groups are helpful, but I couldn’t find a group without a fatalist and/ or someone covered head to toe in pink. Cancer “happened” to me, but it isn’t what defines who I am. I found it hard to find a community of women I could relate to so I started on a very personal journey of healing the emotional pieces still largely damaged.
What really helped me is exploring the piece of what emotions are linked to breast cancer.
It is like the wall street trader who has a heart attack from the stress, well breast cancer may also be related to certain emotions.
Reflecting back on the time around diagnosis and what was going on for me “just before” the diagnosis really set light bulbs off for me. And healing those parts of me are just as important as what the chemotherapy treated. Our internal landscape of our mind and thought patterns are hugely important to live a healthy life. We all have good and bad days but after this process of self discovery I see the new me and can be at peace and be so grateful that I got a second chance to not survive but to THRIVE and Got my HAPPY Back!