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.
People think that your life just goes back to normal or you pick up where you left off once you’ve finished treatment. You might think this too, because this is the part no one warns you about. No one prepares you for the stark reality of survivorship. So, you have absolutely no idea what you are doing and are just trying to figure it out as you go. This is a lonely place to be.
When we rush to conclusions about someone else’s health based on how they act, we completely discount the importance of mental health, and that those struggles and demons are just as valid as illnesses. I can’t help but think about those we’ve lost to suicide: some who worked so hard to present as happy for everyone else, or to “fake it til they make it,” but who were fighting their own minds on a constant basis.
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?