Your Cancer Journey is Yours Alone

When you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, it is hard to resist the urge to compare your situation to that of others, especially those within your own family. Suddenly you hear stories or learn about other people’s cancer experiences and begin to compare yours to theirs. It’s kind of like when women get together and start sharing their labor and childbirth stories. It almost seems as if each one is trying to “top” the others.

When you get a breast cancer diagnosis, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. This might seem incredibly obvious, but it is one of those things that is more easily said than done. Every woman is unique. Every cancer diagnosis is also unique. No woman copes with the news of a diagnosis exactly like anyone else. You and your situation are unlike anyone else’s. Most importantly, every woman’s treatment path can and should be uniquely tailored to her individual situation. Thankfully, this is one area the medical community has made tremendous strides in recently. They really do attempt to individualize each woman’s diagnosis and treatment course and avoid neatly compartmentalizing similar cases. This was not always the case.

Despite being fully aware of the uniqueness of my own cancer journey, sometimes I still find it necessary to remind myself of this obvious fact. My mother had breast cancer, but even as mother and daughter our cancer similarity stops there. She was 74 when initially diagnosed, I was twenty years younger. Her lump was in her right breast, mine was in the left. She had a lumpectomy, I had a bilateral mastectomy. I am undergoing chemotherapy, she did not until her recurrence.

After the shock of your diagnosis wears off, take charge. Ultimately, you are in control of the direction your own unique cancer journey will take. It might not always seem like it, especially at first, but it’s true.

Your cancer journey is yours alone. You do not have to feel or behave in a certain way.

I find comfort, power and strength believing in that simple truth.

6 thoughts to “Your Cancer Journey is Yours Alone”

  1. Thank you for this, Nancy. First off, I am sorry for your loss and now your own diagnosis.

    I am a little further along than you. I’m done chemo, mastectomy and radiation, and am going for my last Herceptin in 2 weeks.

    This really spoke to me. Early in my treatment, I attended a support session for breast cancer patients and their families. One woman who came by herself dominated the conversation. Every thing about her journey seemed heroic: she took very little time off work, her side effects were a breeze, she had faced the disease by herself (she had no family nearby), still she stayed endlessly optimistic…. You could just see everyone else in the room deflating. As we walked back to our car, I expressed my exasperation to my husband. But he made a good point. Perhaps her journey hadn’t been so easy. Perhaps this was a face she was putting on for our benefit. And maybe that is how she coped with her disease.

    We can’t compare our journeys. Instead, maybe we need to put out our hands for help when we need support over the rough patches.

    I wish you good health and many happy days ahead.

    1. Cynthia,
      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. I will be sure to check yours out as well. It is inspiring to me to hear about other women like yourself who are making it through this journey and coming out in one piece! I look forward to reading more about your experiences.

  2. You’re too nice. I think it is great that so many of us are doing this. When I was first diagnosed I was terrified to read “cancer blogs” because I kept finding out terrifying stuff about what could happen to me (in the early days they thought I had inflammatory breast cancer and everything I read was telling me my chances weren’t great) – if someone had carefully guided my hand to the “happy cancer blogs” it would have been so helpful. Especially when dealing with chemo! So I try to focus on how life does just keep on going – you can feel like yourself, in spite of cancer.

    Keep up the good work – I’ll keep reading! 🙂

    1. Cynthia, Yes, I think it’s great that we have this venue. So, when did you start reading the cancer blogs? I agree you can sort of feel like yourself in spite of cancer. Not totally, but sort of. ha. Hope to see you back soon.

  3. Hi Nancy, nice to talk to you 🙂 I did get your blog address of your daughter and read it. Thank you for reading my blog to. It’s nice to be able to have people that know exactly how you feel and what your going through. Sending you my best wishes.

    1. Catherine, Thanks for checking out my blog. I agree it really helps to read about how others are coping and managing. I’ll keep checking on your progress.

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