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What breast cancer has taught me about life

A cancer patient shares self-care tips.

I was diagnosed with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer in my sternum and spine at the same time as my primary diagnosis in 2015.

When other people found out their main reactions were shock, upset and sympathy. My husband died in 2012, and I have a 15-year-old son who I raise as a single parent. They think, ‘You’re widowed, only 45, haven’t you been through enough?’.

It’s hard for people to understand and hear about my diagnosis. But I’ve learnt a lot about myself and about living life from it.

Life is put into perspective

You do tend to look at things differently when you’ve got an incurable disease. Sometimes it takes a diagnosis, or a similarly big shock, to stop and look at your own stuff – your own health, rather than that of others.

It puts things into perspective, and you realise other things can wait. Family and immediate friends become more important and a bigger part of your life, if they want to.

When you know you’re not going to be around to see them forever or do certain things, you decide what your priorities are. You actually sit with a friend and chat, rather than plan to make a plan. It teaches you to slow down and enjoy the everyday stuff.

It’s hard learning to accept you can’t do something

I’ve certainly learnt to pick my battles! Not everything is a big deal. If something is frustrating, I think, ‘Is this worth my energy?’. If not, you have to delegate or ask for help. Not that I like asking for help… it’s much easier said than done.

In fact, I’m still learning to accept that I can’t do everything myself. When you’re independent, asking for help or accepting it is really hard. Your automatic reaction is ‘no’. You want to prove a point to yourself that you can do it.

But learning to live with a secondary diagnosis means having to understand my limits. It’s even more important out of active treatment, making sure I can maximise my time and energy to do the things I want to.

Read full article: What breast cancer has taught me about life | Breast Cancer Care

Read Full Article: What breast cancer has taught me about life | Breast Cancer Care

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