I was interviewed a few months back for an article that SHAPE magazine was working on for their breast cancer issue in October. The article is about words of advice from breast cancer survivors meant to inspire others currently in the trenches. I think it is a great idea because only someone who has been down in the pit where you have been will know just how difficult it can be and how hard it is to come up out again to see the light of day.
My advice was to not be afraid to date during breast cancer treatment. I am often asked why I continued to date during my mastectomy and chemo. I have to admit that I still pose that question to myself sometimes! More so in the frame of “What the hell were you thinking?!” And for a while I truly couldn’t answer that question when someone asked me back then in the thick of it. Now 6 years later looking back I realized that I did it to hold on to what felt “normal”. It was my attempt at feeling like a normal young, single woman. It was my attempt at holding on to my place in the land of the living. I had already given up so dam much to cancer …..my breast, my hair, and quite possibly my life that I was angry it was threatening to take away so much like doing the things that I found exciting and fun. Although I was feeling pretty low about myself at times I still kept putting myself out there. I continued to work as long as I felt ok, went out with my friends, and continued to look for love online. Even though cancer and its treatments were wrecking my body, my mind and more importantly my soul were still the same. Maybe that is what helped to keep me going. Going and doing as much as I could. I figured what did I have to loose? Cancer already threatened to take away my life, so anything else seemed alot less scary.
I think it is so important to keep doing the things that make you feel like you are still alive. That make you feel that you are still living life especially when going through something as frightening as the big “C”. Being a young adult going through it can be so isolating in itself since we tend to be the forgotten ones!
Think about what it is that makes you feel good, that makes you feel connected to yourself as well as the outside world. There can be comfort in the norm, comfort in routine. Embrace those things and look outside the box to find new things to focus on. During my treatments I found that some new hobbies I had discovered before I was diagnosed like photography and reading became a way for me to cope but more importantly a way for me to feel alive. (And of course there was always the standby…..retail therapy, which on some days came in handy. Cause you know, what girl doesn’t need a new pair of shoes?!)
What are some things that make you feel like you? What are some things that you do to keep your feet firmly planted in the land of the living?