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You Have Cancer

You have cancer.

If you ask any woman on the street what disease she fears most, she will likely say breast cancer not heart disease, diabetes or something else. Wrongly or rightly, breast cancer is probably the disease that conjures up the most fear in a woman and creates feelings of anxiety over body image alterations, illness and yes, death that no woman is prepared to face.

I was no different…

Yes, you do have a cancer there, were the words calmly spoken to me over the phone on an ordinary Thursday afternoon in spring by a doctor who was not even mine. I wondered how he could deliver such news so matter-of-factly, as if he were simply telling me I had an ear infection or strep throat.

When you hear those words, they sound unbelievable.

They cannot possibly pertain to you, especially if you are feeling strong, healthy and in control of your life and body. The words hang in the air as if unsure of whom they describe. You hear the words, but yet you do not. You are disconnected to them at first, unable to take ownership of their meaning. You are numb and in a state of disbelief and shock.

The words contradict the image you hold of yourself.

They seem to describe some other person, certainly not you. Cancer happens to other people – older people, strangers, people who never exercise or get mammograms – just other people. Cancer happens to other families, not your own.

Initially, the diagnosis feels surreal, unfathomable and just plain impossible.

You wonder if there has been some kind of mix up. The meaning of the words cannot be absorbed instantly, but rather must be allowed to seep in gradually. Once they do, you are catapulted into a reality you never thought you would face. Your life, as well as your family’s life, is forever altered. You can’t go back.

Yes, the words you have cancer change everything.

How has hearing these words changed things for you?

Did/do you struggle to take ownership of them?

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You Have #Cancer - what it's like to hear those words #womenshealth #breastcancer

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Josie

Monday 28th of December 2015

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer November 2,2015. I had a partial mastectomy December 1. Waiting to get a PET scan. The waiting is so cruel. Waiting to see oncologist. Loved your book. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Nancy

Thursday 31st of December 2015

Josie, The waiting is tough. Hope things go as smoothly as possible for you. Thank you so much for saying you loved my book. You made my day.

Maggie

Sunday 28th of June 2015

The surgeon referred to the Sentinel Node testing but did not describe it well, nor did she ever mention - even in passing - that temporary changes might become permanent. The physical therapist is helping me get back the use of that arm, and explained the lists of "cautions" run through quickly but not explained by the surgeon. I would very much have liked better preparation for the aftercare, physical therapy, and lifelong cautions!

Teresa

Thursday 7th of May 2015

I got the news at work at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon this February, and the world stopped for a minute, kind of like my heart did. "You have Invasive ductal carcinoma, in three all places where we did the biopsies". All the lumps, scares, all the calls back for ultrasounds over the years....this couldn't be happening - I got regular check ups! My coworkers were fabulous - the boss let me go home early so I could make calls before the weekend and find out what to do next. The news was delivered by a radiology doc, a woman, who was very nice. I called my husband, then I called my oldest daughter and we both cried. Had my third round of chemo this week.

I love your writing.

Nancy

Friday 8th of May 2015

Teresa, You are still a newbie then. I'm sorry you had to join this 'club', but since you're in it, I'm glad you found your way here. I'm glad you have felt supported both at work and at home. That's so important and not always the case. Good luck making your way through chemo and all the rest of it too. And thank you for the lovely comment about my writing. Take care.

Christy Kenz

Saturday 2nd of May 2015

i was just diagnosed last week and will meet with the oncologist next Monday. Something that I don't believe you have touched upon, perhaps it isn't all that common. My husband has prostate cancer. He has been going through chemo now since July of last year. He's a trooper, but I'm a little worried about both of us having treatment at the same time. I know that family and church friends will be there for us, but it sure puts a whole new spin on this hateful disease. My concerns about my hair and feeling sick are here with me 24/7. I just look at my husband and I see what it's caused. I'm scared, and prayerful that I can take care of us both. Thank you for your book Nancy. It was very helpful!! xoxo

Nancy

Monday 4th of May 2015

Christy, I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, as if your husband's diagnosis wasn't enough. Cancer is so unfair. It will be rough having you both going through treatment at the same time and all of your concerns are certainly understandable. It's normal to feel afraid; in your shoes who wouldn't? Wishing you the best as you move forward. I'll be thinking of you both. And thank you for saying my book was helpful. That means a lot. Good luck to you. Keep us posted.

Jan Hasak

Tuesday 28th of April 2015

I have advocated for causes and try to help others cope. That is the way I have been dealing with it, having heard those words three times. Way too many! xxx

Nancy

Wednesday 29th of April 2015

Jan, I'm so sorry you have had to hear those words not once, but three times. So unfair, but cancer doesn't care about fairness one bit. I admire you for all you have done and continue to do in the realm of advocacy. I know you've helped many others. You've helped me. Thank you for sharing. xx

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