I used to be an average mom living a cozy life in the suburbs of New Jersey. Nice neighborhood, a quaint house, a loving husband and two teenaged kids. Life was perfect. And then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer! I am sharing my real story with all of you as a Cancer Survivor.
The Day I found out
It was a blustery March afternoon. I was in the living room, browsing through Spectrum Internet Plans to find one with enough bandwidth for the entire family. The phone rang, and even though I couldn’t possibly have known, I was filled with trepidation. It was the clinic, calling about the results of my breast exam from last week. I had thought it was a pretty routine thing. I had had breast exams before but this was different. From the moment they said “Mrs. Clark, can you come in to discuss the results of your breast examination?” I knew the worst had happened. My life was never the same after that phone call.
Grief, Anger, & Pain – An Endless Loop!
I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer has gone through the seven stages of grief:
- Shock and Denial
- Pain and Guilt
- Anger and Bargaining
- The Upward Turn
- Acceptance and Hope
It was no different for me.
Shock & Denial
At first, there was shock and denial. I sat through the initial meeting in numbed disbelief. My husband held my hand while the doctor laid down our options. But I barely listened. In my head, all I could think was that our summer vacation to Hawaii would have to be postponed. It is kind of irrational, being told you have a life-threatening disease but all you are able to think about is vacation plans, but that’s how it was for me.
I used to read the cancer survivor story to get motivated or to get the power to fight against cancer.
Pain & Guilt
Then came the pain and guilt, when I questioned my faith and myself over and over again. I felt guilty for not being more careful about my health. When I was sitting alone then I felt guilty that I was going to become a big burden on my loved ones. I felt guilty for the amount of money that was going to go into my treatments. All this along with the pain of the reality that I had breast cancer, and it had to be dealt with fast.
Anger and Bargaining
After that, there was anger at fate and God for subjecting me to this torture. I had always done my best to be a good person. Somehow, I had thought that would be enough to live a peaceful life. How wrong I was! I tried bargaining with God… A few more years, enough to see my grandchildren born. Enough to soak up as much of the world as possible. Anything to delay the inevitable. But nature had other plans. I ended up having a double mastectomy!
Depression was the toughest part of dealing with the diagnosis. I became listless, lethargic and very mean. Myself lashed out constantly at my family and friends despite their good intentions. I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t look beyond my own suffering to see how it was making those around me suffer. It was draining not just me, but my family as well. I was in a deep depression, stuck in an endless loop of despair, anger, and pain. I had tried many ways to get rid off from depression.
The Upward Turn & Reconstruction
I would never have found my way out of it if it weren’t for my husband. He stood by me, attentive and caring, through my darkest days. He remained the sole ray of light in an otherwise uniform darkness. Without Jack, I don’t know if I would be here writing my story. He was the upward turn in my life. He helped me find the strength to start reconstructing my life. Throughout it all, he was a constant support system at every step of my treatment. Even when I lost hope, he helped me find it again.
Accepting my role as a Cancer Survivor
With his constant help, I began to adjust to my new life. Cancer had ravaged my body. I had lost 50 pounds, most of my hair, and a lot of my willpower along the way. But my husband never left my side. Slowly but surely, he helped me not only physically but also emotionally. There was a positive upward turn in my life for the first time since my initial diagnosis. The treatments, surgeries and constant tests had slowly chipped away at who I was.
Now, I was ready to start dealing with it. There was an acceptance of my new role in life. Sure it was not what I could have imagined, but I prepared myself to be a survivor. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting my family through any more than they’d already suffered. This is what started me on the road to recovery. I started to become more functional and looked for possible solutions to my problems.
After the End
I have lost track of the number of oncologists, specialists, clinics, and hospitals I tried. Some have made a difference, some haven’t. Today, I am happy to say I am in recovery, browsing Spectrum Double Play again back in my living room. But I never could have been where I am now, without my family. The doctors tell me to be constantly vigilant for signs of the cancer returning; I’m not necessarily cancer free for life. I have made my peace with that. As long as the people who matter stand by me, I’m ready to fight cancer whenever it decides to take me on again. I have decided that I will share my story with the world like a cancer survivor.
I am sure that this real story of Breast Cancer Survivor will motivate you to fight against each stage of treatment. This Cancer Survivor story will empower you all and give you the learning about how to live your life while fighting against cancer.