Lesson one: The importance of regular, yearly checkups.
There are many illnesses that have successful outcomes if diagnosed and treated early, and breast cancer is among them. Each year I schedule a “well visit” with my doctor near my birthday. I found this to be a good way to remember to do it consistently, and also something I do for myself.
Lesson two: Do not make excuses for delaying your own health care.
I see women sacrifice their own health for that of others, but my personal view is by not attending to your own needs you will be less able to help others. And there is another part; acknowledge that you are special and important not only to family and friends but to yourself as well.
Lesson three: The necessity of an advocate: When you have a health concern, you need someone you can trust in the room with you to be objective.
As a daughter, wife, and mother, I have had the responsibility for the health of others from scheduling appointments to making medical decisions. I have evaluated medical personnel, diagnosis and treatments, but the moment my doctor gently told me there was a suspicious mass in my breast that needed to be biopsied immediately, a glass wall went up between myself and the woman who was sitting with the doctor. On every subsequent visit my husband was with me, taking notes, asking questions, doing all the things I would normally have been doing myself. He said later he could tell l was just “going though the motions” and that he was there for me.
Lesson four: Let others into your life, let them be with you.
A support group is important, and some of your family and friends want to be part of your journey. For many reasons, some cannot, so don’t feel rejected. This is about you.
Lesson five: In writing about an experience with breast cancer, is easier for me to write about someone else’s experiences than it is to write about my own.
Lesson six: It is important to share your story, for yourself and others.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. She lives in Meigs County, Ohio.