By Cat Phillips In 2010 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and then breast cancer in 2011. I went through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, as well as holistic and integrative treatments. The lymphoma quickly healed, but breast cancer continued to haunt me. I experienced several recurrences which resulted in excessive surgeries, treatments and cosmetic procedures.
So I Found Lump… At the beginning of February this year whilst lying on the bed watching a bit of telly after work, I found a lump. Not sure why I even checked, but I must have felt uncomfortable. I was rubbing along the bottom of my breast, close to my ribs, where the underwired bit goes on your bra. It was not a big lump, and to be honest I had to check a few times. Then began this ridiculous back and forth from one breast to the other to see if I could feel the same on the other side, I could not.
I needed to see other women, on the other side, who were fine. I typed "#BRCA" into the Instagram search bar and my life changed forever. For the first time in my life, I wasn't alone in my thoughts and fears. I feel that through these women, I have learned more than I have through all of the doctors I saw in the past years. I felt stronger. These women helped me into a position where I could advocate for myself and make decisions that were right for MY body and MY life.
When someone says, “tell me about yourself”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you identify most with your job? What about with your diagnosis? One of the biggest struggles I’ve had since finding out I had breast cancer was figuring out how I really see myself, and how I identify myself to others. When I’m too sick to work, am I still a physical therapist? Just a cancer patient? A survivor? Does it really matter? Who gets to decide these things?
My mantra was the quote “80% of success is just showing up”. The medical staff does all of the physical work. I just had to convince myself I was fearless and stay positive, which definitely became more difficult as treatments went on.