In October 2010, I learned firsthand how life changes in an instant.
My peaceful life was interrupted in an abrupt, unimaginable way when I felt a stabbing pain in my right breast. Immediately, I began the long ride down the twisty, pot-hole-filled breast cancer road.
I’ve always been a “half-full” kind of girl. When I was diagnosed, my first thought was: this could have been so much worse. It was at this moment, literally from the time of my diagnosis, that I became conscious of the need for optimism and began looking for (and finding!) Silver Linings.
Here’s what I know for sure about Silver Linings:
1. Silver Linings come in little and big packages. From watching a hummingbird outside of my bedroom window (because I was too sick to stand) to being cancer-free (after enduring the longest and most painful year of my life), Silver Linings are present. All you have to do is look for them.
2. Silver Linings don’t take away the pain, but they do provide balance and perspective. Pain and sadness are important and valuable feelings that need to be processed during and after any rotten experience. The beauty of Silver Linings is that they don’t take away the rain. Rather, they provide an umbrella.
3. Finding Silver Linings is a choice. Sometimes it is a really (really!) hard choice. For example, one day when I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair and found myself laying on my bathroom floor unable to get the 6 feet to my bed, I wondered whether it was possible to find a Silver Lining. At that moment-the precise moment-my Silver Lining appeared when my dear husband and dog came into the bathroom floor and sat with me until I could muster the strength to get to my bed.
One Silver Lining of my breast cancer experience is that I have learned that inexplicable tragedy creates an opportunity to take righteous anger and sadness and turn it into a force for doing good. No it’s not easy. I would never sugarcoat the fact that it can be hard. But what I do know for sure is that dumfounding circumstances and even outrage can be redirected and channeled into action that yields positive outcomes.
This is the ultimate Silver Lining.
If you or someone you know is facing a breast cancer diagnosis, here are my top five recommendations:
1. First, breath. It sounds easy, I know, but after you hear the words, “You have cancer,” breathing takes a whole lot of work.
2. Do not make any rash decisions. Despite feeling like an f-bomb has hit you, the situation is more than likely not emergent (i.e., requiring medical intervention within 24 hours). Take the time to understand the meaning and process the emotions of your diagnosis.
3. Prepare a list of questions before every doctor’s appointment and take a cool, calm and collected friend with you to document questions and answers.
4. Determine the best way for YOU to communicate with friends, family and colleagues about your diagnosis and upcoming treatment (or NOT communicate!). The Silver Lining of a diagnosis is that now YOU get to determine what is best for YOU!
5. Begin building your own comprehensive medical record. At the time of every appointment and test, request a copy of the results and progress notes. This is well worth the effort!
Chemotherapy and radiation made my skin as dry as the Sahara Desert.
My skin felt like a dried and crusty sponge (with a hard and rough surface)… after being in a microwave. Actually, I am under-exaggerating. Every time I put any kind of moisturizer on my face it was sucked up in a nanosecond. Even the expensive ones! Grrrr.
Then, I found Egyptian Magic and the cancer clouds parted. It is truly magical and was the great Silver Lining that saved my skin. Post-treatment, I continue to use it every single day. You can find it easily online or at Whole Foods.
Contributor: Hollye from The Silver Pen
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