I feel good about myself today because I helped someone who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. An old friend revealed to me that her doctor found a malignant tumor in her left breast. More tests have to be done, but I knew her head was spinning and I gave her imformation that I believe helped calm her down.
She was worried about her job but I assured her that she was protected by law. The management at my company was incredibly supportive last year as I underwent treatment--the chemo, the mastectomies, the radiation. With each surgery, I could always count on a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my company to arrive at the hospital. I've already lost six weeks of work in 2009 due to my reconstructive surgeries. I told her not to get ahead of herself and project the worst. Then I gave her the phone numbers of my oncologist, breast surgeon and radiation doctor--just in case.
Reaching out to another person who has been diagnosed with the same disease as you has a soothing effect--for both the person offering help and the person needing help. It's the same dynamics that occur in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. A person shares their pain with the group, than a person who's been through a similar situation, shares their wisdom on how best to handle the problem.
That's why my breast cancer support group at the Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center, in Fairfield Connecticut, became such a safe haven for me. There was always someone there to offer concrete advise on how to handle my angst about my cancer diagnosis. As I mentioned yesterday, it's crucial to surround yourself with support, but do it on multiple levels. Your family can help you at home with meals and cleaning after a surgery. Your best friend can hold your hand during an MRI, like my friend Dawn did.
But they haven't been through breast cancer. So seek people who have been through the disease to give you answers and assurances your friends and family just aren't equipped to give. You'll feel like you're not alone. You'll feel better because as bad as it seems, there are always people that have it worse than you. And that makes your battle all the more easy to handle.
That's all for now,