Ever since hearing those dreaded words “you have breast cancer” it has been all consuming. Barely five minutes goes past without me thinking about it. My way of coping means learning all I can and being as prepared as I can be for all eventualities. While doing this I have come across some fantastic support groups on Facebook, and have read some amazing stories on blogs or other websites. And they have made me realise – I am actually very lucky.
I am lucky that at this stage my cancer is non-invasive. I am well aware that this might change when the pathology comes back from my surgery, but right now all the doctors are saying that it is DCIS and it is easily treated. So many people are diagnosed at stage 3, or even stage 4, so I am glad that I have the opportunity to deal with this now.
I am lucky that we are in a position financially that I do not need to worry about every cent that I am spending on treatment. I am choosing to see a private surgeon, so it’s not free, I do have to pay some of the costs, but I get to choose the surgeon, and I don’t have to go on a waiting list to be treated when my name comes up in the public system. The waiting is the worst, and I have seen some people have really long waits at various stages of the journey.
I am lucky I don’t have a “real” job. I work for myself and I can do as little or as much work as I feel I am able. I do not have to worry about reporting to my boss or letting down my team. In my past jobs, this would have been a real issue.
I am lucky my children are adults. I have seen so many stories of mums battling cancer while taking care of their children. This must take a huge physical and emotional toll while trying to heal. Not least that you are not able to do things for them, but the sense of them missing out on things, and just the thought that they have to deal with a family member with cancer is a recipe for massive mum-guilt. It’s hard enough when they are adults!
I am lucky I did not have to deal with this disease in my twenties or thirties. While I may be relatively young to have breast cancer, I am by no means the youngest. I have come across someone in one of my groups who is 19 and has has had a bilateral mastectomy. I have also heard a story about a 17 year old who had been diagnosed. Now that is just crazy. Cancer really does not discriminate and could happen and any age.
I am lucky I am fit and healthy with no other health issues. So many other people have underlying conditions that mean one or both treatments need to adjusted or compromised as all of the medications are administered. I hope to be able to get up and moving within hours of my surgery. The more I move, the better things will be, so that is my aim.
I am lucky to have lived my life how I wanted to for the last three years. I have already recognised that life isn’t just about paying bills. I wanted to travel and see the world before I couldn’t any more, and I am so glad I didn’t put it off. Oh, I totally plan to keep on travelling, it will just always have that edge to it in case it’s my last trip.
I am lucky to have supportive family and friends. Reading some of the stories others have shared about their support – or lack there of – has been mind blowing. Whether it’s husbands, children, parents, friends, or even workmates and the boss, this is already hard enough as it is, there really is no need to make it harder. It’s not too hard just to listen, and only give opinions when asked. No one else can understand the mental side of this.
So while it seems like life has dealt me a shitty hand simply by having breast cancer, I can look around me and be thankful. I am not dwelling on “why me”. Mostly because I don’t think that question has an answer. There is no one (or even two or three) cause for breast cancer. There is nothing to blame. Once that game starts it will soon seem like everything is to blame. Instead I am looking to the future while being happy that I really have been so lucky.