Dear Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patient

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on November 4th, 2016. I thought I would share some of my reflections with you.

Dani3.jpg

The absolute fear and shock you feel right now will pass. One year ago today, I felt it too. I know it doesn't seem like it will ever go away, and you will keep thinking, “What on earth did I have to worry about before!”. You will talk, sleep, dream, and think about nothing but cancer for quite some time.

Telling your family and friends is heartbreakingly difficult. They don’t know what to say, because nothing seems enough with the enormity of the situation. All they want to do is make it all go away for you, and they can’t. All your family and friends need to know, is to just be there.

Dani2.jpg

The hardest part of a cancer diagnosis is the not knowing, and the worst part of that is at the beginning. You are facing an illness that can take your life. You are facing multiple treatments, putting your trust - and your life - in the hands of a medical team you know nothing about. You don't know how you'll feel, how you'll react, how your family will cope with it. That first week or two after diagnosis will be a flurry of tests, procedures, scans, appointments and decisions. You will start to feel like a human pincushion.

You may be on a google hunt/overload for weeks - scrambling to find sense of all this. Trying to find out what will happen to you and what you can expect - some kind of reassurance you are gonna get through this and be OKAY.

Dani1.jpg

I hope that you receive the support of so many people - advice, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on when you are at your wits end, beautiful meals cooked for you, your dog being walked when you are recovering from treatment, thoughtful, special and practical gifts, or perhaps some financial support from your very generous family. I hope cancer will make it clear how very much loved you are.

You might lose your hair if you go through chemotherapy. That part is hard, I won’t lie. But remember, it means the treatment is working at its full potential. Losing your hair will teach you a lot about inner beauty. And it won’t be forever.

A diagnosis of cancer will change you. You will not walk out of this the same person. Things that used to be important, may become unimportant. Your focus in life may shift.

Dani4.jpg

And, here's the thing: it's up to you whether cancer changes you for the better or not. It's entirely in your control. You can't change the fact that you have the disease, but you can choose how you react to and deal with it.

I want to tell you that I'm so very sorry that you have to go through this. I want you to know that you should not ever blame yourself. You can be the healthiest person in the world and still get it - cancer does not discriminate. But, as horrible as it seems now, you will come out the other side of treatment and go on to live your life again - however that may turn out. You will need every ounce of physical and mental strength you have. But you WILL do it. Because there is no other option.

Trust the process, have faith, have courage and lean on your loved ones - or, lean on me.....always here for you.

Dani 
Stage 2, grade 2 breast cancer 
1 year on cancer free, surviving and thriving 💜💜💜

Kristin PatersonComment