I've been asked by BreastCancerAnswers.com to come up with three tips I'd like to share about going through breast cancer treatment. This poses an interesting challenge. I had to ask myself, "Out of all the good advice I've received and doled out, what three things have stayed with me? Living, as I have, in cancer treatment for 6 years, what is most important."
This is what I came up with:
1. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't compare yourself to anyone else (why yes, this is one tip - the two statements go together, OK?). Just as every cancer is different, treatments vary widely and so do our responses. Just because that you've been told that Jane worked full time and ran 5k every day of treatment doesn't mean that you ought to be doing these things. And conversely, you don't have to become a shut in just because Jane chose to stay in bed for weeks at a time. Who knows? Jane's choices may have been made because of what other people told her she should be doing. Do what's right for you.
2. When in doubt, bring a friend. People like to be asked to do specific things to help friends and family going through treatment. Don't be afraid to ask for company. Some of the meds I take leave me so wobbly I couldn't make it home without assistance. But even if I feel fine, I've been very happy to have a friend with me to provide a distraction during treatment or be a second pair of ears during appointments.
3. Live in the moment. We all want and hope to put treatment behind us. It really helps me, though, to take a look around and see the things that are good in my life right now. This doesn't come easily to me. I'm someone who lived much of my life looking ahead. I'm working on identifying those things in my life that give me great joy - and then savouring them.
I think that's it. If you've been through cancer treatment, what three tips would you share?