In August of 2020 I was diagnosed with stage two, invasive Her2 Positive breast cancer.
I’d had some iffy mammograms in the past that had all turned out to be nothing. I’d soon find out I was headed for cancer treatment.
Because I have dense breast tissue, my mammograms are impossible to read.
So my doc ordered a biopsy on a suspicious area which I really didn’t think was necessary as no one in my family has ever had cancer of any kind. But I’ve always gone off the beaten path.
Thank God my doctor was persistent or I may have waited another year and my diagnosis would have been far more dire.
I haven’t wanted to write on my blog about my cancer journey but I did finally write a post on Facebook just to let people know why I was MIA.
I was both touched and surprised when a few FB acquaintances reached out on DM to tell me they too had had cancer and that my post was really helpful for them.
With that in mind — this is what I posted:
What I know about how to get through cancer treatment after six rounds of chemotherapy, one surgery and 20 rounds of radiation.
First, think about what you want “after” cancer treatment.
I had my first film produced and selected as a Sundance Film in 2019 and I wanted to get another movie made. So I brought my computer to every chemo infusion (usually when I was feeling best) and wrote like crazy.
I found out a few weeks ago a script I wrote for Lifetime will go into production in June as long as no new apocalypse is nigh. I directly correlate this to my intense focus on what I wanted post-treatment (and great producers!)
Second, practice gratitude.
My kind of cancer was a death sentence 10 years ago. Really smart people created medications that now make it curable! The radiation machine alone blew me away! It’s remarkable what humans have created and I am fortunate to reap the benefits of that genius.
Third, allow yourself room to be a miserable wreck.
Not constantly. Not overridingly. But certainly in the roughest pockets let yourself cry and be self-pitying so those emotions can pass through and not get stuck.
This is hard stuff. It’s okay to be weak and fall apart when you need to. I didn’t want to over-identify with being a cancer patient. But I did have to accept the days it was kicking my ass and come to some kind of peace with that.
Finally, don’t allow cancer to define you, rather how you choose to walk through it.
I surprised myself by never being in denial or asking “Why me?”
When I learned of my diagnosis, I immediately thought “Why not me?” Everybody has something hard they must deal with at some point in their lives regardless of how things look from the outside. “Why not me?” allowed me to move into the cancer treatment process without resistance.
I still have a stretch of road before me, but at this moment I feel hopeful and so grateful to my beloveds, Henry, Clare and Bridget.
Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to know what I learned about managing chemotherapy. Because that, my friends, was a cataclysmic shitastrophy that I’d love to help you mitigate, if possible. xxoo S