Control in a Chaotic New Life: Taking Back What Cancer Stole

Next week will mark one year since I was diagnosed with cancer. Friday, April 26th, to be exact. I remember every move I made that day. I remember in stark detail the call I received after 7pm. It was well beyond the time I thought I would get “the call” to hear what exactly they had learned from the biopsy.

When my dad passed away last March, I thought cancer was finished with our family… but after that call – I realized how wrong I was.

I think that very next day I started taking my life back – of course it was slowly at first, with small steps. Fast-forward a whole entire year – one that was filled with tremendous lows and somehow, many many positives. I’m here, settling back into a life that I missed and I’d like to share a few ways I’m doing that.

Attitude

One of the first things people said to me when I was diagnosed (right after the I’m so sorry, or the initial shock) was “I could never do what you’re doing, you’re so strong.” While I appreciated the sentiment, I always responded with, “Yes you could, there is no other choice.” From day one I knew if I was going to beat this, my attitude had to be positive.

I haven’t been positive every day, and I won’t pretend that I am now – but for the most part, I try to smile, appreciate the blessings I have and live the best way I can.

Cancer is always lurking in the back of my mind, trying to snatch my happiness but I won’t let it, I can’t.

Advocacy

The very first thing I did to start taking my life back after I was diagnosed was to advocate for myself. My OB – who had delivered the news, recommended I get in touch to have a breast MRI done asap. I of course called immediately that night and was told they had an opening the next week. Frantically, I took the appointment for Wednesday and hung up the phone. Then I started to panic… Wednesday?! That was almost a full week away, and I could not, would not, wait. I called right back, explained my situation to the very kind woman on the other end of the phone and asked if there was anything sooner. Low and behold they could get me in the next
day, first thing in the morning.

I learned a very valuable lesson from that phone call – I would advocate for myself, I would push and I wouldn’t take no for an answer… why? Because I deserved to live and I needed to move fast. From that day on, I did just that and I never regretted it for a second.

In the aftermath of cancer, I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m at because I chose to take positive steps in controlling what I could.

This goes for anything else too… In every situation that throws you off your game, remember to take a deep breath, make a plan and know that even if it feels like it’s out of your control, there are things you can do.

Until next time,

Martha