When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31, I was clueless where to begin. Should I go with the physician I felt most comfortable? Should I get a zillion opinions? What questions should I ask doctors? Should I tell everyone? Do I want them to help? I didn’t know, which cancer resource to read. In fact, I had never had any cancer conversations. AND on top of all that, I was a newlywed and wanted to be happy. There’s no one secret recipe on how to be happy in life during the ups and downs, however I’ve found some ways that have helped me find joy during my cancer journey.
Scanxiety – have you felt it? This week on “Happiness through Hardship” – The Podcast I’m dropping a mini-episode about scans and how to minimize the stress and fear around them aka “scanxiety.”
I never wanted to be known as “Caryn with Cancer” but the reality is that’s who I am. My cancer has made me a better version of myself and for that I’m grateful and want to share what I’ve learned in order to help others going through any hard time. Whether you have cancer or not, odds are you may have to get a scan at some point, so on this episode I share my thoughts on how to make it a little easier.
You get the phone call or email that a friend has just been diagnosed with [insert crappy diagnosis here] and you don’t know what to do. Do you call? If you call, what do you say? You opt not to call because:
1. You aren’t sure you should know.
2. You don’t know what you would say because you haven’t been in their shoes.
3. Or your friend must be swamped and you don’t want to bother her.
So, how then do you help a sick friend?
As a breast cancer survivor, I’m not sure whether I love October or fear it. Seeing the spectrum of pink colors everywhere can be overwhelming. It’s a constant reminder that I’m sick. And yes, I know that thousands of women and men are afflicted with this disease yearly, so the pink promotion isn’t about me being ill. But sometimes, I just get inside my head. My thoughts go to the scary places that we all want to push away. And sometimes, I just want to cry.
I’m not sure when to celebrate my cancer-aversery.
Is it the day we found the first lump (12/18/2004?)
Is it the day of my first official diagnosis (12/29/04?)
Now, that I’ve had a reoccurrence, should I commemorate the day when scan reports outlined the probability of metastatic disease (8/29/13?) Or, should it be the night of Friday the 13th (9/13/13) when my oncologist’s voice quietly gave me the official word – “It IS cancer.”
Throughout this cancer journey, I’ve stumbled upon amazing organizations that have helped my family and others navigate through this experience. So today, in honor of “International Day of Charity,” I’ve listed some of my favorite cancer charities and how you can donate. Their missions serve people in different ways. Some focus on research to find a cure, while others promote early detection to prevent it altogether.
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the Fall of 2013. The news was shocking and sobering, especially considering I knew very few people who thrived with it. Scared beyond comprehension, filled with sleepless nights and worries dancing through my head, I thought I knew what that diagnosis meant. At the same time, publicity ramped up for Disney’s “Frozen,” but I didn’t pay attention. The movie opened Thanksgiving weekend and after the holidays, the world knew it was not only a box office hit, but the key to a young girl’s heart. I didn’t realize, it would be to mine, as well.
As the world was singing “Do you Want to Build a Snowman, ” I was anxiously awaiting my first set of scans after being diagnosed. My mind was filled with wildly ranging thoughts:
Was this the calm before the storm? Would the results show tremendous growth and I would only have a few months or years left?
If so, would my child really know me? Should we tell him or not?
Will my new treatments debilitate me? Will I feel like myself? Will I be myself?