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I have radically accepted my breast cancer


Breast cancer has been through my body A LOT:

  • Eight rounds of chemotherapy
  • A lumpectomy
  • Nine lymph nodes removed
  • Six weeks of radiation
  • A year of medication to prevent the cancer from coming back

After all, my body was different.

There was the dip of my right nipple from my lumpectomy, numbness in my upper right arm, a circular scar where the lymph nodes came out, and the fact that my left breast would always be larger than my right breast – and not by a bit.

I got to a point where I accepted it all. I even blogged about it for a breast cancer support organization.

“I see a body that has triumphed. I see a body that has declared victory over cancer. I see an incredibly happy woman who loves her life and loves the body in which she lives, ‘ I wrote Then.

It was all true. Or “quite true”, to quote Olivia, the imaginative pig in the books my children loved.

But ten years later I see it a little differently.

I learned that the radical self-acceptance of anything – not just breast cancer- is not a destination you come to, get the trophy and take your victory round. It’s a process.

I’m still working on it. And I think my cancer has helped me oddly enough.

What does radical acceptance even mean?

Radical acceptance is about accepting something. You do not have to like it or even feel good about it, but you accept that it is real.

It’s: “This is where I am now” or “This is what’s happening right now”, even if you hate it.

For example, if you are caught in a downpour outside and get soaked, you accept the reality of the rain while seeking shelter. Radical acceptance does not mean “It does not matter” or “I’m fine.”

I now go whole days and weeks without ever thinking about having breast cancer. I would never have thought of that in the first few years after my diagnosis.

It just became another part of who I am and was, like brown hair and brown eyes and such ridiculously short body that I look like a Despicable me minion when I try to wear an overall.

But even though breast cancer is almost always in my rearview mirror, there’s one more thing I did not quite accept: aging.

Cancer lesions? OK. Gray carrots? Neeeee.

I come down the stairs in the morning, mumbling, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch” while the stiffness in my ankles overcomes the night. And where does the strange streak in the middle of my neck come from?

I’m definitely not on board with it all.

I understand: I am happy that I have lived long enough, and I see signs that I am getting older.

But I can not say that I completely accepted it.

I color my gray. I want a cream that can do something to my neck.

I exercise daily to get healthier and stronger, but also on how I look in jeans and a shirt.

Am I stressed about these things like I was in my twenties? No. I now have more perspective.

But do I accept my body 100% if I still try to change it? Probably not.

Prove what I can see

The longer it has been since my ‘Cancer Year’, the more it fades. Sometimes it almost feels like it happened to someone else.

But my scars say, ‘No, it was all true, it was you. You endured it. You got it right. “They tell me that I am vulnerable and that I am strong.

And it’s worth a lot more than just accepting.



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