I had my mastectomy on a Wednesday. I think it was Friday morning, when the anesthesia finally wore off, that I had my breakdown.
Not being in my right mind, I could be wrong.
What I know for sure is that cancer had been eating away at my emotions for the past six and a half months, and I was completely devastated. It didn’t take much for all those tubes and bandages, and a missing breast, to push me over the edge.
I was no longer able to cope. Worse, I was terrified I would be discharged into the void and left to face my mental, emotional and physical recuperation completely depleted and alone.
Suddenly a nurse walked into the room and introduced herself as my patient navigator. She sat beside my bed and told me about cancer support services available to me even after I left the hospital. (It was the first time in six and a half months that anyone discussed support services with me.)
As we talked, I went from hopelessness and isolation to connection. After I left the hospital, I started showing up for every support service I could. I signed up for support groups and rehabilitative exercise classes. I met regularly with my patient navigator and committed to seeing a therapist once a week for a year.
My cancer center became my home away from home. I was filled with gratitude and found myself saying “thank you” a million times a day. But, as time went on, I was filled with an overwhelming desire to give back and needed to do more.
Which didn’t come easily.
Read more at CURE.
Is giving back been a part of your healing from cancer? Tell me about it in the comments, I answer every one.
Survival > Existence,
Photo courtesy of 123RF Photos
Debbie is the founder of WhereWeGoNow, author of You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment, a regular contributor at CURE and Positively Positive and a blogger at The Huffington Post. She is an inspirational speaker bringing hope to cancer survivors and the patient experience to medical professionals. Debbie gives back by working with the Cancer Hope Network, The Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, and the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board at Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJ. Debbie is a wife, mother, and a former very stressed out attorney. To learn more, join her at WhereWeGoNow and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.