Two years ago today I completed my 8th and final chemo treatment for breast cancer. Some days it feels like so long ago. But most days it feels like just yesterday.
My hair has grown back. It’s short, but no longer looks like I’ve been through chemo.
My energy has come back, for the most part.
My chemo brain still lingers, but no where near what it was during active treatment.
I’ve even gotten used to my new breasts. But I have to say, I don’t think I’ll ever get over loosing my natural breasts. Fake breasts just aren’t the same. For so many reasons.
While I’m grateful that I’m a ‘survivor’ (I hate that word, but that’s a blog post for another time), a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about all I’ve been through in the last two years. It’s hard to move past a breast cancer diagnosis when you’re reminded of it every morning when you get dressed and see the mastectomy scars.
I do feel like I’m acting more like my pre-cancer self – going out with friends, regularly exercising, taking trips, not completely freaking out every time I feel an ache and pain. But as most people feel who have had a cancer diagnosis, the fear of recurrence is always in the back of my mind. You try to live as much of a normal life as possible, but it’s sometimes hard to quiet those dark thoughts in your head.
In the last two years since finishing chemo, I’ve joined a support group through the Young Survival Coalition. This organization focuses on supporting young women – 40 and under at diagnosis – with breast cancer. It’s so helpful to talk with other women who have gone through and are going through similar experiences as you. It makes me feel less alone and more understood.
I’m also trying to pay it forward a bit. There are newly diagnosed women that come to the support group every month. I remember how I felt at that time – scared, worried, nervous, anxious, etc. So I try not to sugar coat it and to tell these young women that breast cancer sucks. But I also tell them that we’ll be here to help her through it. Sitting and listening was the best help for me, so I’m trying to do the same for these women.
As I mark another milestone of one more year past my last chemo treatment, I’ve noticed that I’ve made other changes in my life too. Some are deliberate, some just happen after going through a traumatic event. I find myself spending less time doing things I don’t want to do. More time with people I want to be with. Going to places that have been on my list to visit. I used to be a person that read magazines cover to cover. Now if there’s an article I’m only mildly interested in, I’ll turn the page. No time for that now. Even if I am lucky enough to be alive for 50 more years, that’s a good life lesson, cancer or no cancer. I just wish I didn’t have to be diagnosed with breast cancer to learn it.
That is awesome
Thanks for reading and for the support.
hey Stacey! congrats on putting another year between you and treatment. I’m glad to read about how your life is getting normal again but how it’s different, too. I relate to all you wrote–scars, choices about how to spend your time, the term “survivor” (please do write that blog as i’d be interested to hear your take on it)….and more. I haven’t sought out a support group yet but figure it may be good for me to try again (I went one time and got scared off). Anyway, keep on keeping on! I’m routing for you. xox
Hi Jo! Thanks for reading this post and for the encouraging words. I hear you on the support group. I went to another one before I found the one that worked for me. Being with young women really made a difference for me. (We’re still considered young!) This group also meets at a bar and isn’t support group-like at all – no sitting in a circle, no facilitated conversation, just hanging out and talking. Hope you’re doing well and feeling good. xoxo.