Nazanin Derakhshan is a Professor of Experimental Psychopathology, a cognitive and affective neuroscientist, and Director of the BRiC Centre (Building Resilience in Breast Cancer) at the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck University of London, UK. She has conducted extensive research into the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying anxiety and depressive vulnerability with a keen interest in developing neurocognitive interventions designed at reducing vulnerability and promoting resilience. She has published widely in top internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals in her field and has been the holder of prestigious fellowships at the Royal Society and at the University of Oxford, as well as winning multiple awards in teaching and research. She has a passion for running. She is a breast cancer warrior.
When I think of the how breast cancer has affected me, the most imminent questions that come to my mind are: 1. Should the cancer have changed me? 2. For the worse AND the better? 3. What should my 'profile' look like? Stronger? Weaker? Both? If both, then how can weak and strong live together in harmony?
Today, I tried a new route. Along the river on the crisp icy grass, the sun glazing on my cheeks, I ran, my mind taking me forward, my feet following, slower on the bumps, making sure I was firmly grounded in the mud. Finding my balance, I wanted to protect myself from falling.
When IS the right time to drop the breast cancer bomb? A breast cancer diagnosis can shatter relationships and put younger children at risk of vulnerability. For a woman who is encouraged to 'move on' a simple track does not exist.
Today, my friend revealed to me that her breast cancer had metastasised to her spine and pelvis. I felt like I had been thrown off a cliff, yet I was standing. I wanted to turn back time, but is that resilience? I wanted to scream and cry but I had promised my six year old daughter to practice her dance moves. 'Mummy, let's start dancing', she said. But how could I?
Three years down the line, I still continue to be haunted by my cancer. Like the background music to a movie it's always there, singing the trauma that I have endured. Approximately, two-thirds of women with a breast cancer diagnosis suffer PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and this can make them prone to anxiety and depression later.
23/03/2016 16:20 GMT
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