Between that day, and a full month of scans (CT, two MRIs, echo and full body bone), my diagnosis went from stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer), to stage III HER2+, to stage IV with mets to the liver. I also went from being told that I would need a lumpectomy and radiation, to a mastectomy with chemotherapy and radiation, to surgery coming right off the table and going straight into six months of chemo and hormone blockers - do not pass GO!
A few days ago I was scrolling through social media and I came across this quote: “You mastered survival mode, now it’s time to live.” and so I paused and read it again and again and then I asked myself, “What do I define as survival mode? Did I master survival mode or am I still surviving? Am I really living? Can you ever master survival mode?” So then I went on to think about everything that has been going on in my life so far, both past and present and realized that I find myself going back and forth into survival mode, maybe all of us do (at least for now).
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.
One day, whether you agree with me or not - your mindset about this trauma will start to shift but until then cry it out, cuddle it out, Netflix it out, feel all the emotions and most importantly eat only delicious things to block out the thoughts. In the meantime, hopefully by sharing my story, I’ll be able to inspire you to see things differently so that you can go from all the feelings of *the day that changed your life* to feeling positive, strong, capable, and like you’re thriving (as well as surviving) daily.