What I Wish People Knew About Breast Cancer

By Christine Lakin
Updated 2024-03-22 09:10:39 | Published 2023-10-05 08:26:36
  • Breast Cancer
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    • Explore our Breast Cancer section on the iMedix Blog for in-depth information on breast cancer detection, treatment, and survivorship. This space is designed to empower patients, survivors, and their loved ones with knowledge and support, providing resources and guidance through every stage of the breast cancer journey.

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An abstract illustration of Breast Cancer

What I Wish People Knew About Breast Cancer is likely a phrase expressing a desire to share personal insights or less-known facts about breast cancer. This could include the emotional and physical challenges faced by those diagnosed, the importance of early detection and regular screenings, the reality that breast cancer can affect people of all genders, the complexities of treatment options, and the ongoing need for support even after treatment ends. It's a call to spread awareness and understanding about the nuances of the disease beyond the commonly known facts.

There are many aspects of the breast cancer experience that I wish people understood. It's important to realize that the journey doesn't end once you reach the survivorship stage or when you're on maintenance medication. This is why I believe that the advertising surrounding breast cancer does a disservice to our community.

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When I reached the survivorship stage, my original oncologist warned me that I might feel a bit of depression. I no longer had daily or weekly appointments, and my follow-ups were less frequent. Now, at the 5-year mark, I only need an MRI and diagnostic mammogram once a year. While this may sound like something to be happy about, it's not the case for everyone.

Some survivors can adjust to their new normal and bounce back to their pre-cancer selves. However, there are others, like me, who haven't been able to bounce back and have no sense of normalcy. Chronic pain and emotional anguish have become a part of my life, and they don't seem to be going away anytime soon.

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Chronic pain was something I never expected to experience on my cancer journey. The media and advertising always portray smiling women participating in breast cancer walks, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me for not feeling the same way. The face of chronic pain is often masked by a smile, which is why it's frustrating when people tell me I look fine and healthy.

What people don't see is how I struggle to sleep or how I rely on makeup and concealer to hide the toll that cancer has taken on my appearance. They don't see me using a cane to get out of bed or the constant nausea that I experience. They don't see the tears and the fear of falling in the shower. I have to keep up appearances, but it takes a toll on me.

Therapy has always been important to me, especially since I've dealt with depression and anxiety since high school. Finding the right therapist after my cancer diagnosis was difficult, but I eventually found someone who specialized in chronic illness and understood the unique challenges I faced. Through therapy, I've been able to prioritize my health, engage in creative activities, disconnect from social media and the news, lean on friends for support, and have honest conversations with myself about what I truly want in life.

One of my biggest fears in adulthood was being diagnosed with cancer while being single, and unfortunately, it became a reality. Cancer took away precious years that I can never get back, and some days, that's hard to come to terms with. The stress and chronic pain have taken a toll on me, but with the help of therapy, I've learned to navigate through it and find moments of joy and purpose in my life.

The breast cancer journey is not a three-act play that neatly wraps up. It is real life, with potential long-lasting side effects. My hope is that one day, family, friends, employers, and healthcare providers will truly understand the impact that breast cancer has on the body and the ongoing recovery process. I am giving it my all to live my life authentically and not let the unknown paralyze me.

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Christine Lakin is verified user for iMedix