Learning that you have breast cancer can be one of the most shocking and life altering moments of your entire life. The initial diagnosis can bring on feelings of not only worry, but life’s fragility. The idea of time being precious no longer seems like something that you just say in passing when talking to friends. Your time really does become precious and your sense of purpose kicks into overdrive.
Breast cancer is affecting more young African American women each year and the ages continue to get younger and younger. But the diagnosis, the treatment and the recovery do not have to be a grim experience. Yes, it’s extremely hard and will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to go through in your life. Questions may arise, such as: How did this happen to me? Why me? And what am I going to do now?
I had all of these same questions. After all, I was only 31 years old, African American, and in good health. These are all common concerns among women who have been diagnosed with this disease, but more important than the initial shock and the treatment and even surgery is the mental state of the woman after she learns that she has the disease.
For every woman who has just learned that she has breast cancer and for every woman who knows another who has been diagnosed, there are five rules that we must all follow in order to ensure that our lives and the lives of our loved ones will be fulfilled while we take this journey.
Focus on getting better. Spend very little time thinking about the disease itself; rather, spend time thinking about your life after you get better. I had a nurse to admit to me that people get sicker when they spend too much time in the hospital worrying about their illness.
Avoid morbid, pessimistic people. Even people that you love and who love you can become a drain on your spirit when they spend too much time treating you like your diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. Many people recover from cancer and go on to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Change your diet. Don’t accept any of the soda, sweets and other junk foods offered to you at your cancer treatment center or anywhere else. A low/no dairy, low/no sugar, no alcohol and junk free diet helps your body to fight against the tumor while you are going through conventional treatments. Drink plenty of water, eat extra servings of fresh vegetables and add extra fiber to your diet to cleanse your body.
Keep doing what you do. The initial diagnosis will be a serious blow and the chemotherapy treatments and surgery will knock you off your feet for a while, but keep your eyes on the prize. Staying focused on your family life – especially your children – helps you to maintain a positive and healthy mental state. A positive and healthy mental state also helps your body to fight against the cancer and to recuperate from the toxicity of chemotherapy. The entire time that I have been going through treatments, I have been a single mother, a sociology student, a freelance writer and author, and a small business owner. I never missed a beat – except the days when I was ill from the chemo – because I chose to continue living and thriving.
Pray, meditate, chant or whatever it is that you do. Your mind needs to be cleansed when going through a battle with breast cancer. Your spirit should always be nurtured so that you may receive divine guidance. Spend little time sobbing in prayer and more time focused on what you want your outcome to be. Love yourself, visualize your body healing and trust that things will work out as they should.
As a breast cancer patient and self proclaimed “survivor” of the disease, I know all too well what a woman goes through after she gets that call from the doctor’s office. Some women choose to immediately join support groups and notify their family members. There are other women who decide that the best way to deal with the disease and the forthcoming recovery is to cope in solitude and in silence. I was one of those women.
As a breast cancer patient enduring the most toxic of chemotherapy treatments in conjunction with a few naturopathic treatments, I have learned that my immediate state of mind and wellbeing contribute greatly to the way that my body has responded to the treatments and how well I am doing physically while on the road to recovery. Throughout this transition, I came up with five ways to cope with the disease so that may have the best outcome while on the road to recovery.
Zekita is freelance writer and the author of “YourStory Book One.” Her articles have been published by many national and international publications and she has been featured by ABC World News and the Roland S. Martin radio show. To learn more, visit www.zeniampublications.com.