Saturday, January 31, 2009

10 Breast Cancer Survival Tips

Right now I have upper body awareness thanks to a group of breast cancer survivors. (This is my way of saying, "Ouch!") I spent the morning on Estero Bay paddling—aggressively paddling—a canoe.


A sister breast cancer survivor hooked me on this weekly Saturday morning event, with other breast cancer survivors. See


This is the first time since my cancer adventure began in 2004 that I have participated in a collective breast cancer survivor activity. The painful truth is that I could not emotionally deal with it. This summer I will round the corner to my 5th survival-year. I pray I'll be released from my daily drug dosages and experience how life feels without chemical side-effects.


At night, when sleep escapes me, I recall what I did to make it through the day I found the lump, the day the biopsy was performed and the subsequent call that began, "Charmaine, I'm so sorry, but…," the day I marched into the hospital for surgery, the day I celebrated in the halls of the Santa Fe Cancer Center after completing six weeks of radiation, and finally the night I broke down into inconsolable sobs with pillow bashing and bad words.


But like my survivor sisters in that canoe this morning, I'm okay. Maybe changed, but okay, nonetheless. So here are my Top 10 Breast Cancer Survivor Tips

  1. Faith and hope. Prayer/meditation in any form is good.
  2. Dignity. I dressed up and wore make-up for my daily treatments.
  3. Knowledge. I read and researched.
  4. Trust. I acknowledged that my medical team knew more than I ever could.
  5. Willfulness. No excuses. Just keep moving toward the goal of health.
  6. Acceptance. Any woman of any kind or type can get breast cancer. It wasn't my fault.
  7. Rest. I spent at least six-months sleeping.
  8. Avoidance. Avoiding negative people, places and moods.
  9. Walking. Not power walks, but admiring the countryside, the passing pooches, and the sky.
  10. Humor. So maybe some of the ensuing breast jokes got bad, but it relieved my anxiety when I could laugh, even at myself.

There is one other element that I didn't realize until the night I bashed pillows. The support of family and friends was the secret ingredient to my recovery. Those people in my life remain golden forever.

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