Megan’s Story — A personal experience
Megan was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2002. Here is her story…
Megan was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2002. After undergoing a mastectomy and axillary gland dissection, Megan went on to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy. During this time, Megan and her partner, Steve, kept a diary and when their journey was over, they reviewed that diary, particularly in respect of the chemotherapy component of treatment. From the experiences they had documented, Megan put together a list of what she called “chemotherapy positives. This list is published here in the certain knowledge that it will help others who must travel the same journey.
- I have received tremendous support from Steve, family and friends and people I didn’t know well at all in the beginning.
- I had very little physical side effects from the chemotherapy, but each person is an individual.
- I was more settled and more aware of the routine when I commenced my second cycle of chemotherapy.
- I learned to slow down physically.
- I learned about the triggers for the mood swings I experienced.
- I learnt about prioritization – to put myself first, then Steve, then us.
- I developed friendships at the Clinic – I gained the confidence to introduce myself to other patients.
- Steve’s new haircut!!! He shaved his hair off. He said, “I didn’t have a breast off or undergo chemotherapy”. This was his way of showing support, something physical he could do for himself and for me. We had lots of fun shaving each other’s hair off especially when our family and friends hadn’t seen this done before.
- To reduce stress, do one thing at a time. Write any helpful ideas or positive thing in the “Good Book”. Read this daily and highlight any special ideas. Write any negative or unproductive thoughts on paper – then burn it – it’s gone.
- To reduce any nausea or vomiting, eat five small meals a day. As Steve said “graze not gorge”.
- Try a warm bath or shower before going to bed, or place a hot pack over the scars – this relieves the tightness.
- When you are sad, take a nice thought from the memory shelf, use as needed and change with a new memory as desired.
- Listen to positive conversation or stories about cancer survivors. Immediately cut off (in a firm way) any negative stories about cancer patients from well meaning, but thoughtless, family or friends.
- If possible arrange for someone else to look after payment of bills and finances to reduce stress.
- Live in the present – do anything that feels right to you to increase your confidence.
- A sense of humour is important – smile as often as you can – it is a great stress reliever as well as exercising your mouth muscles, which gives you good-looking lips.
- Ask questions (write down the answers) about any medical concerns you have. The more informed you are, the more knowledge and personal relief you may obtain. If you don’t ask the questions, you will never know the answers and these unresolved worries will nag at you.
- It’s OK to grieve for the sudden loss of confidence in the way of life you had before the diagnosis of breast cancer, and the massive changes in your life while you are having treatment. It is a uniquely personal perspective that you will go through. I found it helpful to talk out any concerns on the cancer line and supportive relatives and friends.
- Spend time with any pet. If you don’t have one, borrow a friend’s pet. Go to the local pet shop – watch the puppies and kittens play.
If you would like to share your experiences, e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org