What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer?

What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer?

It’s breast cancer awareness month and this means you can buy anything pink. In fact, I challenge you to find something not pink during this month.

Unfortunately, though, what you can’t buy with those pink items is an education about breast cancer (or any cancer) including, prevention.

And while I’m so happy we can talk about breast cancer considering there was a time when women suffered in silence, I do think we need to do more than “pinkwash.” I think education should be the focus.

So today, let’s start with three things you can say to the newly diagnosed should you find yourself at a loss for words.

3 Simple Phrases

 

“I’m sorry”

The reality is this; there are no words of wisdom at a time like cancer. The word “cancer” alone can clear a room or a social calendar. It can render you speechless.

Saying these these seemingly little words can convey you’re concern and care without saying things that could offend. You can always go back later and say more heartwarming words once you’ve collected your thoughts.

“What can I do?”

I think these words speak volumes especially for the newly diagnosed. I remember walking out of the breast clinic the day I got my diagnosis and thinking, what comes next?

Chemotherapy is big, ugly and scary and each person has their own reaction to it. So just knowing you can count on someone to do anything for you is comforting.

“I’m gonna love you through it”

These are words plucked right out of Martina McBride’s song entitled “I’m gonna love you through it.” But they are perfect! However you say it, the best thing you can say is that you are going to be right there with them. There’s no greater gift.

 

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Mental Unwellness Day

Mental Unwellness Day

Did you know? One in five adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, experiences mental illness in a given year? (National Alliance Mental Health)

It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m talking to “depression” usually finds its way into the conversation.

The current state of affairs, discord and day-to-day challenges can leave us feeling empty and emotionally drained.

We are inundated with issues and problems. The unknown. Poor health. Workplace abuse. Money problems. Aging.

All things that can trigger unhappiness and poor mental health.

And while these issues may not be the cause of Bipolar or Schizophrenia or any other mental illness, they certainly can irritate mental illness.

So what can I do?

  • Take a break from news.
  • Take a walk.
  • If your a bible reader, make time for personal study or reading.
  • Do things that bring you happiness inside.

No, it’s not gonna solve every problem you have. But, it may induce the happiness endorphins. And that’s a good way to fight back!

Don’t be afraid to call a friend or a family member. Share your truth with someone!

I started out my career as a suicide intervention counselor. Trust me, I never once felt bothered by a caller seeking conversation or help. Neither will your friends or family.

We must start to include mental health and wellness as an important part of overall good health.

In 2008 my friend Lara died by suicide. I miss our inside jokes. The lunches. The conversations. And her idiosyncrasies.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

under (re)construction

under (re)construction

Hello friends! It’s Friday July 27, 2018—I hope this finds you staying cool, and looking forward to a good weekend.

To my cancer fighter readers, I hope this finds you on a good day.

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s because a few weeks ago I had the final surgery of delayed breast reconstruction (yay!).

I’ve been recuperating.

This surgery was to remove breast tissue expanders a.k.a. spacers, and replace them with permanent breast implants.

What is a breast tissue expander? A breast tissue expander is an inflatable breast implant designed to stretch the skin and muscle to make room for a future, more permanent implant.

The breast tissue expanders are seen here on the left. Not every expander looks the same. I’m a very petite woman and each surgeon has their preference.

Why do you need expanders? Once you have a mastectomy you don’t have a pocket (or space) to hold implants so the surgeon creates one using “spacers.”

It took me four years to get to this place. Reconstruction doesn’t typically take as long as mine did. Many (like Angelina Jolie) opt for immediate reconstruction following mastectomy.

That was my intent, too. But everyone’s body and circumstances vary.

In my case, when my surgeon removed my breast tissue (I had double mastectomies) my skin rebelled. It quickly started to change color. When the skin changes color it may mean the skin is dying off due to lack of blood supply.

This is a complication called, Necrosis.

When my surgeon saw my skin reacting negatively she determined it was better to back out of immediate reconstruction and give my body and skin time to heal. And I agree!

At the time, she didn’t know if the skin issue was going to end up being a complex situation.

Thankfully, it was not! Within days my skin was back to normal.

I could have jumped right back into surgery to finish the job but I wanted to take a timeout to just breathe and heal emotionally. And, I wanted to restore my immune system before doing so.

Cancer, chemotherapy and surgery are taxing physically and emotional. I needed a break, so I took one.

Two years later I went back to the same plastic surgeon. This time my experience was a disappointing debacle.

I’ll share more about that in another letter but for now, I just wanted to touch base with you all. And, I like to try to keep my articles shorter than normal for people on the run.

Update on my blogging challenges.

I haven’t given up on my blogging goals. If you’ve been following me you know what I’m talking about, if not, you can read more about that here..

I continue to learn ways to better myself as a writer, content creator and blog designer. And I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.

But if there’s one thing life is teaching me it’s that you don’t have to do it, grasp it or be it, overnight. It takes time and patience.

Have a great weekend!

Always, Imperfect April