Scars on the body and soul of a cancer survivor
In this week’s stories, we read about the scars on the body and the soul of a cancer survivor. We also witness a woman’s efforts to deal with the stigma of breast cancer and we learn what we can do to protect ourselves from a rare type of breast cancer.
“My scars are the badge of my survival”
Sometimes, surviving cancer can leave scars, not only on the body but in our soul as well. As Beverly confesses: “the scars that you cannot see are often the hardest to heal”. Despite the many scars cancer has left her with, six were so deep and changed her life. The first deepest scar was “the Loss of Innocence”, as she calls it, meaning the innocence of ignorance lost after her diagnosis. Her second deepest scar was “The Big Bad Wolf of Recurrence” or the fear that the cancer might reappear. This scar led to the third one, “The Research - Based Paralysis”. This scar relates to the fear of changes and limits to the lifestyle, based on statistics and research. The next scar was “Chemo Brain”: the fact that chemotherapy treatment affects the brain and may result in memory loss. Her fifth scar was related to “Early Menopause”, and the last but equally life-changing one concerned the financial repercussions coming from expensive treatment and medicines. In her story, Beverly describes the scar left after her cancer diagnosis and how she managed not to leave them take her life away. Despite their impact, Beverly has found a way to deal with scars and “wear them proudly, like a badge of survival”.
Cancer can make people want to help and support each other
Being a guest on a Radio/TV show Barbara Jacoby talks about her award-winning blog on breast cancer “Let Life Happen”, which has been recognized by patients and healthcare professionals worldwide. She explains the reasons behind her decision to create a blog on breast cancer, and the important role of her husband in make it happen. For her, cancer not only makes people “suffer”, but it can actually make them help and support people with the same condition.
Never thought I'd want to be identified as a breast cancer survivor …
Becky had never thought that she would want to be identified as a breast cancer survivor, and in her blog, she explains how she deals with the stigma linked with breast cancer. In every occasion, she examines other people’s reactions to find her own image; sometimes people call her Becky, her name as a breast cancer survivor and blogger, another time they called her Rebecca, as she is known in professional settings. People’s attitudes towards her depend on whether they are aware of her condition or not. Sometimes, she feels ready to tell the world that she is a breast cancer survivor, sometimes not. As she reveals, “one of the biggest challenges for me is the sense that people are “happy to see me well” and “glad to see that I’m strong”. The problem is that I don’t feel that well or that strong.” In the end, she realizes that the only thing that matter is how she feels and that she should not be afraid to express her feelings and wills.
No cause-and-effect relationship between cancer and lifestyle
Eileen is a five-year breast cancer survivor, and she describes her journey on her blog, while also sharing some advice. She specifically points out that people tend to believe that cancer is created by unhealthy diet or bad lifestyle. They sometimes try to find a “cause-and-effect relationship” between cancer and lifestyle, just to reassure themselves that by avoiding some things will make them immune to cancer. However, she explains that she was a person with healthy eating habits - she just got unlucky. However, she is not complaining. She feels grateful and wiser than ever before.
Spot the signs of inflammatory breast cancer early
There are several different types of breast cancer. Among them, one type called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is among the most aggressive. In general, it is diagnosed in women at an older age (50 years or older), without excluding diagnoses at younger ages as well. Despite the aggressive nature of this condition, there are many treatment options like mastectomy or chemotherapy. However, as always, an early diagnosis can help save lives. These are the signs that should make you go straight to your doctor.
In conclusion: never-ending search
Breast cancer patients engage in never-ending searches. Some try to understand why the condition knocked on their door, looking for the exact cause. Others try to find ways to overcome the many scars of cancer, while some look for opportunities to help other patients. But this is a search we should always do: the search for signs and symptoms, with calmness and balance, and always with the healthcare professionals on our side.