This is an excerpt from my own personal diary, in which I tackle the challenges of having a potential life changing diagnosis.
4 May 2023 – Diagnosis Cancer
So, let’s put this day to bed – it was a biggie today. I got the news that my breast biopsy showed a large cluster of calcifications that were significant enough to warrant a full mastectomy, with hopefully a reconstruction. I have been referred to the surgical team at Chichester hospital, who will contact me and organise an appointment to go and discuss the options. The left breast will be removed, sent to oncology and the calcifications sent to histology. Once we have the results they will then decide if I need further treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy, or medication.
I have yet to tell my friends and family. I am scared to do this because I know they will view me differently. Perhaps they’ll think twice about talking to me about their problems in case it worries me. They won’t hug me in the same way in case they hurt me or are afraid that I will feel different. I worry that they will see me as ‘less than’.
Life will not be the same. I will forever have a little nagging doubt at the back of my mind that this cancer will return or appear in the other breast, or the cancer will appear somewhere else in my body - as it has with skin cancer in the past.
I know that I am luckier than a lot of people - those who may have received the message today that the disease is too far along, or that there is little that can be done. I watched women go into the appointment with no support and they came out looking shattered. I am a lucky person, I have my husband who will do what he can to support me, but today even he said he didn’t know the words to say that would make me feel better.
There are booklets to read that were given to me today – I can’t bring myself to look at them at the moment. One is on the reconstruction process, and one is on the ‘why’ and the stages of cancer. I have had to remove them from my bedroom out of my view.
Recovery physically is between 6 – 12 weeks, so many questions pop into my mind - how will we manage financially if I can’t work? How can I see clients if my mind is not 100% able to compartmentalise what is happening? What will I be able to do? Will it stop me doing the things I love like going to New Zealand? How will it affect me when every day I see myself in the mirror? How will it affect my relationship with my husband?
So, I have cried today at the thought of what I will lose – how it will affect my relationships, how it will affect me. I don’t feel very optimistic at the moment, and hope that this doesn’t drag on too long waiting for the call to the appointment…..
Those were some of my thoughts in the Spring of 2023, It is now Autumn
We are seeing the life cycle of the changing seasons, from the first shoots of new life to the beginning of our winter here in the UK. As I travelled to yet another hospital appointment yesterday, it made me reflect on how I might have felt if I had been told that the cancer was life limiting.
I’m considered to be one of the lucky ones, with no follow up treatment required, but what I and my family hadn’t appreciated or realised is that to some degree this diagnosis is still life limiting. Having left me with nerve pain and needing further surgery, all my plans and goals are on hold - including (but not limited to) my business and financial goals.
As one of the ‘lucky ones’ this diagnosis has taken away so much and having the mindset that these things are sent for a reason, it is taking a lot of internal searching to try and find out what this might be. What I normally do is push through, find options, set myself goals and intentions - not necessarily big goals, but small ones every day that will take me to a bigger version of what I think of as achievement. But that isn’t happening now, and it has left me feeling rudderless, bereft, less than.
The things that have driven me in the past such as expectation and compromises that I have made no longer serve me, my world has shrunk as it accommodates living with pain, and being unable to do the most mundane daily tasks such as laundry and cleaning as my body heals from the procedure(s). Although my condition is not life limiting in the true sense of the word, it is life limiting for me in my world as I know it. I feel so incredibly tired as I struggle to find the energy to put my life back together once again. This has triggered so much of what I repressed about the emotional journey back from CFS and Fibromyalgia, which I am now having to sit with and work through. I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people who love and support me, who want the best for me and I know that if and when I reach out that someone is there with just the right words of encouragement to help pull me through some of those darker thoughts.
Figuring out my next steps – September 2023
The intentions that I have set for myself going forward are:
To put some fun into my life, gently live in the moment and appreciate what I have now at this moment in time.
Fill my life with adventures, nothing too earth shattering but something that would be meaningful for me. I’ve always fancied house sitting and hiring a camper van to go off exploring.
Pursue things that interest me, like writing, or having the energy to cook. This will require me to change the flow of my day.
Live my life with passion and curiosity, a switch to enjoying the journey instead of setting goals for myself. One thing I have discovered through this part of my journey is that all the goals you set for your business and finances can come completely undone in a heartbeat. Also, that the world continues to turn, even if you think your part of it has ended.
Nurture the relationship with myself, stop valuing things and achievements over people and relationships. I want to reassess the expectations of self and how I will compromise what my needs are, in order to meet how I perceive other people’s expectations of me.
Ask for help when I need it – this will require me to be open, honest, and vulnerable not only with myself, but with others. In the past not being seen as professional has caused me to overcommit, which has created overwhelm and culminated in stress and an eventual breakdown.
Although am still struggling with nerve pain and I know I have more operations on the horizon, I absolutely can’t do any of this without support, and I have the most amazing people in my life who I know will help me to succeed.
This quote from Rumi speaks to something deep inside of me and has helped me through some of the challenges that I have had to work through, I hope it also helps you too.
“When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,
what I need flows to me, and without pain.
From this I understand that
what I want also wants me,
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret here
For anyone who can grasp it…”
If you or anyone you know have been on a similar journey, or if you are still going through your own journey and want to speak to someone who will understand, then please do contact us using the link to book a FREE 30 minute Discovery Call.