I Am Not Thankful For Breast Cancer, But I Am Thankful For What It Taught Me
By: Courtney Floyd
No one is thankful for breast cancer! But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to know if there were any takeaways from this disease to be thankful for. I reach out to our beloved patients for their perspectives, and this is what they had to say:
“What my journey taught me is that I am stronger than I think, life is full of storms and breast cancer is just one of the many that came my way. I refuse to live in fear of round 2, 3 or 4 and regardless of the next storm, I will get thru it and the sun will come out again and yet another beautiful rainbow will appear. Life is full of rainbows- it's whether you allow yourself to see them.” -Catherine L.
“Three years ago today I had just had my first nine-hour chemo. The quiet fear of the unknown and raw emotion still becomes me as the memory popped up on Facebook. The questions for tomorrow, the need to reassure my family and friends and the dread of tests and surgeries were all a part of me. Thankfully I didn't know the road map. It was so much longer than my Doctors had anticipated and the speed bumps were more like car crashes. It WAS the hardest year of my life. Yet, I am Thankful for Breast Cancer. The journey forever changed me. I now better understand compassion and strive to take time out for others. Whether it is picking up the phone and checking in on someone or buying something small just so they know I care. I don't take life for granted. I live each day with joy! PRMA gives me an opportunity to share the best side of Breast Cancer -excitement and anticipation of the new you! Hearing women call me that sound just like I did, scared and tired transform to someone ready for reconstruction and excited makes me thankful that I can pay it forward!” -Angie M.
“I am grateful to all the strong women who have walked this path before me. My awareness of how others have contributed to my survival has heightened since I have had breast cancer. Each time a woman agrees to donate her tumor to research, it is for the betterment of other women. Each time a woman agrees to a new treatment under research, she is doing it for others. I am so thankful women have a heart for other women. I give thanks for my breast cancer because it has made me a better woman! Happy Thanksgiving, ladies!” -Jeanette T.
“Breast cancer helped me lose 25 lbs. & gave me a size 8 pants from a 14! I now take my life and health much more seriously now and have made diet changes to keep the weight off. In short, I am MUCH more thankful for EVERYTHING in my life; the good, the bad & the ugly. I am thankful to be cancer-free and at 66, I have MUCH more to see in my lifetime!” -Sharon S.
“One of my patients asked me ‘How life is when you have cancer, how do you live with it?’ This is my opinion: Cancer is an event in one's life that you must accept, face and deal with. If it is possible, treat it and eradicate it, adapting yourself every day to the continuing metamorphosis that treatments imply, LIVING your life, loving and appreciating every moment, and enjoying each day. Cancer has taught me how small our time is in this moment we call life, how many incredibly beautiful things are around us, and how an act of kindness can change our life. People tell me I am more alive than before. I am grateful for that.” -Ana K.
“I definitely was not thankful for breast cancer coming into my life, but I’m thankful it taught me to find God in everything. When I checked into the hospital on Feb. 16, 2015 to have my 9 1/2 hour DIEP Flap surgery I can honestly say I was at peace. Nobody would have ever thought I was there for the biggest surgery of my life. I was smiling and friendly with everyone and when I was finally wheeled back for surgery I waved bye to everyone, including people I didn’t know. Basically, I learned to give thanks to God in everything and anything, even in the dark times. It also didn’t hurt that my doctor prayed with my husband and me before surgery.” -Carla B.
“I am not thankful that I have had breast cancer twice. Who would be? It hurt me physically and emotionally. Worse than that it hurt my family and friends emotionally and I think in many regards physically. Being a care giver is work, it’s tiring. That is the raw truth about having cancer twice. That’s not how I live my life though! Many people bristle at the phrase, “cancer was a gift”. I kind of agree with them to be honest with you. I prefer to use the phrase, “cancer was an enlightenment”. Hearing the words, 'you have breast cancer' does not necessarily mean a death sentence but your mind automatically goes there. Why? Because to this date, there is no cure for breast cancer. So, you are naturally scared when you hear those words. Great progress has been made in medicine and now women and men are living cancer free after a diagnosis and treatment. I was enlightened by facing that fear and turning it on its head and THAT’s how I live my life every day. I’m not afraid to speak my heart with great clarity. I’m not afraid to try new adventures. I’m not afraid to brush aside those I identify who are taking undo positive energy out of my life. I’m not afraid to work hard and with passion. I’m not afraid to embrace the realization that each minute of my life and the lives of others faced by breast cancer is both tenuous and treasured. I am thankful I have been enlightened!” -Terri C.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and may your holiday season be filled with lots of love, many laughs, and beautiful memories!