Updated: Feb 5, 2021
When I look back at photos of myself pre-diagnosis, I see a thinner, care-free, long hair, smiling cancer-free girl. Knowing that I had this growing for 3-5 years is hard because in some of those pictures and memories I already had cancer. I just didn't know it.
What I would tell myself pre-cancer is...
You are beautiful today; your body is fighting hard for you and you need to treat it right to survive. Don't worry about how you look or what others think of your decisions, parenting, or relationships. Find what makes you happy and try things. Guess what? You like to journal, do yoga and meditate. Believe me! Your life will be exactly what it is meant to be. You have a story and each hurdle or celebration is a chapter, as you know there are many chapters to every book. The life you live now will change to reveal you're true purpose.
Slow down, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Remember you aren't too young for cancer, it won't care you are 37 with two little kids. Make the most of your minutes, hours, and days, no one is guaranteed tomorrow.
Let other people help you, you don't have to do everything yourself. It helps them too. Take time for yourself, you can't help others if you aren't taking care of yourself. Appreciate how much love you have in your life, nothing else will matter. Be happy with everything you have; you will want or need nothing more.
Your husband loves you. You think you know how much, but you have no clue. That man will be your rock through tough times to come, you have no idea how capable he is of taking care of the kids, house, and you. He will always make you feel beautiful and loved. Your marriage will become even stronger. He meant every single word of his vows.
Your kids are more resilient than you can imagine, they will be just fine. The boys will show you unconditional love and the true bond between mother and son(s). You will cry for them and laugh at them, they will continue to get crazier and bolder, also sweeter and kinder. They will learn so much from you and how incredibly positive you can be in some of the toughest of times. This will build a foundation in your family that will confirm you four can take on anything.
Beautiful strength will grow and you will be supported by friends and co-workers (even strangers) who will show you kindness beyond what you could ever imagine. Don't be afraid to say yes, they love you, they are feeling the feels right alongside you.
Your role in your family will shift, you as the oldest child will be the one who needs them to look after you. They will exceed this new opportunity and the bonds and connections will grow and grow.
New connections will arise, you have no idea the women you have yet to meet. The amazing, beautiful, strong, and supportive women that are going to become your lifeline. Your circle has room for them, embrace this opportunity to re-discover making friends and the value they will bring to your world.
Continue letting things go. Go with the flow, the plans and blueprint for your life will be scary but fabulous in the end. Don't focus on the outcomes, what-ifs, or ending, you will never know those answers.
Save money and then save some more.
Keep doing what you’re doing, take a few things up a notch;
Don't avoid situations because they make you uncomfortable
It's okay to say no
Be intentional every day
You are brave, you are fierce, you are a fighter and can do this. I believe in you; you will be fine!
There are many ways to tune in and begin to process your thoughts and feelings around a cancer diagnosis. I experienced that timing is everything. I couldn’t take a step back and see all I had been through until I was almost through active treatment. It was then, that it all hit me and the weight on my shoulders was very heavy. I felt like I had been asleep for months and awoken to memories of treatment, surgeries and it was so surreal. My social worker explained that our minds are very powerful, coping through the trauma will shut down. Once it was time, I accessed help to start processing all that had happened.
I believe that writing pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can be very therapeutic. I have included some ideas about what kind of letter you could write.
What do you want to say specifically to yourself, your cancer, tumour, or breasts?
· What have you learned through your experience?
· What has cancer taught you?
· Are there lessons you’d like to share?
· Are you grieving the loss of your body parts or pre-cancer self?
· What can you do to help yourself heal?
· Can you permit yourself to write about your feelings?
· Are there people you’d like to thank for their love and support?