October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may have already seen things like pink ribbons, walks, and campaigns for a cure.
We’ve indeed come a long way in terms of breast cancer research and general awareness, as well as early detection. But, hearing the word “cancer” at any stage is scary and overwhelming.
Thankfully, because of the awareness surrounding it, breast cancer is often treatable and beatable. And the survival stories are inspiring! Here are a few inspiring tips we can learn from those who’ve dealt with breast cancer head-on.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others
Breast cancer can affect different women in different ways. It depends on how the disease has progressed, the type of treatment you’re using, etc. It isn’t fair to compare yourself to other people who have gone through it.
This approach to life is one we should all follow—we’re all different, and that’s okay. From Nancy Reagan to Sheryl Crow, each breast cancer survivors all have a unique, compelling story to tell.
2. It’s Okay to Be Scared
While fear surrounding a cancer diagnosis shouldn’t take over your life, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared or overwhelmed. That’s a normal response, and acknowledging it can help others around you to be as supportive as possible.
Perhaps you think that you have to be strong all of the time—you don’t. You can put up a fight and beat your cancer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have moments of fear or weakness. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you naturally.
To this day, Christina Applegate shakes when she recalls getting the phone call confirming her biopsy results. The bottom line is that it’s okay to be scared. Courage means facing your fear, regardless of how you feel.
3. Ask For Help
Most breast cancer survivors know that it’s nearly impossible to get through this disease on your own. Again, you might feel as though you have to be strong. Or, maybe you want to prove to yourself that you can get through this without anyone’s assistance. This mindset is not uncommon for people to possess in everyday life, as well.
However, family and friends are there to help you. They’ll likely be more than happy to do everything from prepare meals on days where you’re too tired to mow your front lawn.
When Lea Renfro was battling breast cancer, she found it inspiring how much people cared about her. Don’t feel as though you have to keep up with the pace of life as you go through challenging times. Reaching out for help will give you time to regroup.
4. Adjust to Your “New Normal”
Breast cancer survivors (and all of us) can fearlessly live when they choose to adjust to the new normal of life. What does that mean? It’s a bit different for everyone, of course.
You might have to change everything from your eating habits to your sleeping patterns. Some people deal with “chemo brain,” which can cause your body to go through changes that you didn’t have to worry about before. These changes include graying hair, fatigue, etc.
You might also have to put more focus on rebuilding relationships and understanding your limits. Melissa Etheridge found herself toggling between grief and gratitude daily. She eventually chose to be thankful for her diagnosis, and she encourages others to follow her lead.
In many ways, once you’ve experienced a traumatic event, your life will never go back to being the way it was before. So embrace your “new normal.”
5. Seek Mental Help If You’re Struggling
If you’re in recovery and you’re having a hard time adjusting to your new life, you may benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist. Counseling for cancer patients isn’t uncommon. A counselor can help you from the initial diagnosis to living your life in remission.
Whether you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re going through treatment, or you’ve beaten the disease, you don’t have to deal with the ins and outs of how it affects your life on your own.
Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment, and let’s talk. Or, visit my page about counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones to learn more about how I can help.