How I defeated two cancers during menopause
– “You have cancer”, The young doctor, with the bedside manner of a robot, told me outright. I defeated two cancers
– “You will have your hair back in a year”, she continued.
I wanted to run out of the hospital, but I just walked in a daze, got into the car, and drove the 100 km to work with tears streaming down my face. Just before reaching my office building, I parked on the side of the road to fix my makeup, now streaking down my cheeks. I looked like a mess.
It took all my strength reserves to pull myself together and pretend that I was having a normal day. I should have won an Oscar!
Eventually, I decided that I was not going to let cancer rule my life or my thinking, and especially not my feelings. I was going to beat this, and I was not going to feel sorry for myself. I wasn’t going to ask the question: “Why me?” because why not me? It was not as if I lead the perfect healthy lifestyle up till then.
I had smoked for at least 20 years of my adult life. I quit a few years back, but who knows what damage I had already caused to my body. My weight had done the yo-yo jumping jacks over the years which was an additional risk factor for cancer. Fortunately, I didn’t indulge in too much alcohol, but my guilty pleasure, my drug of choice, was sugar.
I decided to focus on what I could do, rather than feel sorry for myself:
- Get a second opinion to decide my next course of action.
- Change my habits into life-enhancing ones: better diet, exercise, meditation, etc.
- Help my loved ones deal with the illness because they were likely to take it worse than I did.
- Be positive even when I didn’t feel like it!
I defeated two cancers
It makes a huge difference when you catch yourself going down the negative “thought” path and decide to reverse your thoughts in the direction that serves you. In fact, Harvard Medical School underlines the importance of positive thinking in overcoming illness and maintaining good health.
I was not going to be a sick person, a patient or to think of myself in those terms — being ill.
The one good thing was that we caught the cancer early. I was vigilant and disciplined enough to go for a mammogram or ultrasound every year religiously. The tumor was still small, and it had not spread; at least according to the MRI report.
I decided on having the surgery to take the wretched thing out of my body. We needed to find out what type of cancer it was — was it a slow-growing or an aggressive one.
After the surgery, the verdict was in: It was stage 1. I sighed a huge sigh of relief. The cancer was not very invasive. I was lucky; very, very lucky!
I defeated two cancers
All over again
After 8 years, the cancer came back.
Although I had a double mastectomy, the surgeons left a very thin layer of tissue in order to reconstruct my breasts. The cancer attacked that thin layer of tissue under the skin.
Again, we caught it in the very early stages, thanks to my discipline in getting regular checkups.
The whole process was on repeat.
When I was told that I had cancer again, I fell apart again. I had to summon all my energy and resolve to pull myself together and deal with it, again!
By telling you this story I am reminding you that you may not be able to control the circumstances in your life, but you can choose how you react to them and what you do with your life – in sickness and in health.
I am not any different from you. I stumble and I fall, but I choose not to stay down. I choose to be a winner, not a victim.
You have the power to determine your attitude and mindset even in the most challenging times.
I defeated two cancers
Your own best friend
When things are not going well, try being your own best friend. Take the advice you would give to your best friend.
Would you say: ” Oh, you poor thing. Yes, you should feel helpless and sorry for yourself and wallow in your despair!”?
Or are your advice to her would more likely to be something along the lines of: “Oh, honey, you can beat this. You know this too shall pass. I will be with you all the way. Let’s see what the options are”.
Be your own best friend. Find the quiet in the center of the tornado and do your best to think about all the things you can do to make the situation better or easier. You can change how you think. That is in your power.
Try not to become a victim of your own thoughts and feelings. They, after all, are fleeting; they come and go. You do not need to be their prisoner.
When all is not well, put your imaginary Superwoman cape on and be your own hero. It works; many other women and I are living proof.
Read more about how you can take better care of yourself in menopause.