Like A Friend Calling …
Suma, 50 Years Old Woman, Stage 1 Breast Cancer
My name is Suma; I’m a Nurse Specialist. I always cared for patients with Lung cancer who are mostly diagnosed in advanced stages and hence need palliative care, thinking that I can ease their pains and sorrows – I can be their shield against cancer, against a villain who I have never expected to face myself, but I was wrong; July 2016 was the time for me to be bold and fight against it, and at that time, I found my patients to be my strong, protective shield throughout my journey. I had persistent fatigue, so I decided to see a physician; then, I had blood tests and a mammogram done, which showed that I might have a lump in my breast, so a biopsy was obtained. This biopsy conveyed a diagnosis that I had never imagined. It translated my fatigue into something beyond my imagination. I was told that I have Stage 1 Breast Cancer.
Denial and rejection was all that I was feeling initially; I was not able to grasp the fact that I had cancer. I went home that day with a heavy heart, with heavy steps, carrying a worrying diagnosis, which should have been the end of my story. I went home where I was sure I would feel secure; I went home to see my children, and to listen to their joyful stories; I went home to be embraced by my family as my heart was filled with worry and they’re the only ones who can enlighten it. Then, came the question: should I inform my family yet? Will they be able to grasp it? I believed in them and knew they would support me with every step I take.
I informed my husband; he broke into tears. He cared for me a lot and was upset for my own wellbeing. As time passed, he accepted it, and so did I. We both were ready to fight it together. He was always strong and by my side when I needed him. He comforted me and was there for me throughout the treatment. I had a treatment phase of one year duration which includes surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. I was fatigued and physically drained but I knew that I am strong enough to handle it. I did things that I enjoy during my treatment cycle; for example, I’m a workaholic person; thus, working although I’m sick took away all the sickness, which I was experiencing as felt happy doing my assigned duties. I showed this physically-draining disease that as much as it drains me, I’ll appreciate life more. I decided not to take a sick leave; I went to work and helped my patients as I was well aware now of what they go through when they are sick. Having cancer has enlightened my perspective regarding the disease and made me a better carer for my patients. Losing hair? Being fatigued? Having mood swings? This all vanished when I realized that I am strong enough to win this battle. I gained strength through my family’s support, my patients’ wellbeing, and my acceptance of my illness. In addition to that, my spiritual habits and my strong relation with god made me stronger and wiser, as I started to look at this condition as any other condition that will pass making me mentally and physically stronger.
Cancer throws a person into a deep end, thinking that they entered a tunnel with no opening on the other side, but this is not the case; one should believe that they have the tools to create an opening for themselves which leads to their wellbeing and acceptance. For that to happen, one needs to establish a positive attitude, to have a supportive group and to have hope and faith. Do things that make you happy, be supportive of others, and give yourself time to heal. Let it be, you can fight it.