Yesterday I got a message from a friend saying that a friend of theirs had be diagnosed with breast cancer, it had all happened suddenly and she will be having a mastectomy. She had seen the trailer for #GoodbyeBoobs and had asked my friend if she could have my number to talk to me.
I have never had breast cancer. I have watched 2 of the people I love most die of breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy to avoid it. I wasn't sure that i would know what to say but I of course said yes. I'm really glad I did say yes. It was an amazing 70 minute conversation with a beautiful, independent soul who is currently fearing losing her boobs more that she was processing the fact she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When we started talking we realised that she had same fears that i had had. The same things I had thought, she was thinking them too.
Sometimes its just easier to say stuff out loud to someone who has been there. To someone who knows how it feels. To someone you don't have to be strong for. To someone you don't have to worry about. I want everyone to know that if you ever face this situation or any other like it, it's ok to seek out counsel in someone else who has been there. It is AMAZING to talk. It's ok to think, wonder and worry about how you will feel about your body after the process is over and how the changes will impact your future. From my experience it's hugely helpful to reach out and talk to other people because you realise that the fears you have are normal, you realise from others that the fears disperse with time and that you can learn to love you body maybe more that you ever have before.
It's easy to tell someone who has been delivered a massive blow to 'think positively' but to actually do that is in that situation is something that has to be worked at. To be honest most of us in normal situations struggle with positive thoughts but when something like this slaps you in the face it seems like a good time to start trying. Whats the alternative? What feels better to you? Positive or negative? It's your choice and neither is right or wrong but be really honest about what feels better for you. This doesn't mean you can't/don't and won't fall apart at times, it doesn't mean we can't scream and shout but what we do after that is what matters. We pick ourselves up, we rebuild ourselves and we ask other people to help if we need to.
From talking to this lady I realised so much. She has given me strength to realise that talking about what you're going through helps other people more than you realise. She has shown me true strength is possible. We talked a lot about what this diagnoses means for her. We were able to look at it objectively. What could she change about her life to take better care of herself? How can she stop being so hard on herself? How can she use this as a lesson and turn it into something positive? You may say how could a cancer diagnoses possibly be positive? For her it has to be. It's like everything else, how you chose to view it and feel about it is your choice.
We spoke about looking at it as a lesson, something she can learn from. We spoke about viewing it as her body trying to tell her something isn't quite right somewhere within herself, about using it as an opportunity to get really honest with herself and how she treat herself. This way she can make it positive. Again I asked her what is the alternative? To be negative? To fall apart? To admit defeat? Surely positivity and listening to yourself feels better. Surely it makes you feel stronger. Even if it doesn't make a slight bit of difference to the outcome (which I believe it does) surely being positive and using this diagnoses as a sign to change things and make your life better, surely that feels better. Surely that brings you less stress, less pain, less upset, less hurt.
Something I hadn't realised until recently is that we always have a choice. In every situation. It may not be the choice that we want but we have a choice. That choice is very often how we chose to think and feel about situations. It's easy to say that we can't chose what we think and how we feel but I believe deep down we know we can. It's all to easy to let our thoughts and then our feelings which are brought on by these thoughts just happen and to get caught up with them and the emotions they induce. Realise that you can become aware of your thoughts and what your are thinking, if you can do this and watch your thoughts appear in your mind then you can't be your thoughts. You must be the awareness watching them. If you are that awareness then you have the power change them and to think and feel about situations as you chose.
I'm not suggesting this is easy. It have taken me 3.5 years of actively seeking answers and solutions to get to this stage. Why did I start looking? Because I was sad, depressed and miserable and i knew that there must be a better, happier, kinder way. I can tell you I wasn't wrong. What i have learnt I share because I hope that it will give someone else the strength to look for and strive for something better.