I’m approaching six months of my breast cancer being in remission and I am slowly rebuilding both physically and emotionally.
When I returned to work full-time, I got transferred to a new client site; I am exercising regularly – logging food and workouts; I just had the interior of my house repainted with fresh and bright colors and purchased all new furniture and décor.
Everything reminded me of the past year – the worst year – of my life, so although I’m not trying to erase my battle with breast cancer, I just need a fresh, clean slate.
I am still working to try to get over the emotional scars that this disease left on me – but it’s hard. I think the emotional scars are far worse than the double mastectomy and chemo. Right now, after 5 surgeries, my breast reconstruction is working and I’m getting breasts again; I’m done with chemo, I’m not sick all of the time, I have more energy (although not as much as I’d like); my hair, eyelashes and brows are growing back; and I’m starting to look and feel “normal” again.
But I have a heavy heart. My soul still aches. I battled my fight against cancer almost entirely on my own. However, I finally realized that I needed to take accountability and take some of the blame, because although I feel like people should have reached out to me to check on me, I didn’t reach out to them, ask them for help, or share how truly depressed and sick I was.
I only shared photos when I had my make-up and cute head wraps or wigs on, I shared the good and went on and on about how well and blessed I was. I made a mistake, one that I truly hope other cancer warriors don’t make. I didn’t reach out and I held it all in. I wanted to be strong and didn’t want people to worry. I pushed myself to do too much and even though I felt at times like I was going to collapse, I pushed through the pain. I made myself more sick than I should have been because I kept taking on so much extra stuff.
Nearly six months after completing chemo, hours of prayer, seeking spiritual guidance and speaking with a counselor, I realized that I needed to focus on myself. I need to put this behind me. I began exercising and eating right, journaling more in my handwritten diary, I started a Facebook Page to encourage and motivate others (to try to ensure that no one ever goes through this battle alone), and I chose to let go of all that anger I was harboring and forgive.
I don’t want to keep saying “poor me” and feeling depressed all the time … especially if I didn’t reach out. I can’t be mad and blame others if they weren’t aware.
I decided to reach out to a lot of folks who I haven’t really heard from in the past year – since my diagnosis, some of whom I considered good friends. Some responded and told me that they didn’t realize I went at it alone. They saw all the encouraging words on Facebook and Instragram and figured I had a huge support network. I didn’t.
That’s the problem with social media. It takes personalization out of everything. People think they can just “like” a status or photo or comment “you’re in my prayers” or whatever and ta-da, they’ve magically done their part and gave you all the support you needed. It lets people get away with doing the minimum and just being there at their convenience. And for all those public comments – I got texts/emails from less than 10 people – the whole year.
That has been a hard pill to swallow and it still chokes me up. I do my best to be a good person and a good friend, I volunteer to help when I can and try to be positive. When I got my diagnosis I never in my life expected people to just not be there.
But I’m tired of being hurt, angry and depressed. I decided last week to reach out to a lot of these people. I figured they had good reason for not being there and I didn’t question them. Also, I can’t be mad or hurt if they really just didn’t know I didn’t have tons of people in my corner. Hell, if you look at my social media sites, it looks like I’m one loved girl – and I might be. But I want to be loved in REAL LIFE. “Liking” or “Commenting” on a social media status is nice … but family and friends need to step up and do more. The person who is fighting for their life should never have to feel so … abandoned, or disregarded, or like if they die … would anyone really care? That is exactly how I felt … BUT…
Everyone has their own reasons for doing what they do and it’s not my job to question anyone’s motives. But it is my job to move past this. I have to continue praying and focusing on who I am now and moving forward with my life.
If you get anything from this blog … I hope it’s that if you have a friend or family member that is going through anything – cancer, other illness, or some other traumatic experience, don’t assume they’re ok or that they want their space. Don’t assume they have a huge support network. Don’t assume anything. Be there for them. Support is everything and not having it is devastating.
Today…no more looking back. A fresh start.