As my friend Marykay told me, I need to just start writing. I can tell that writing is very therapeutic for me right now so here I go… almost 2 weeks ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What the F#%*#??? Even writing these words is so surreal to me. Can this really be true? There is still a small part of me that doesn’t believe it and maybe that is a good thing. I’ve noticed that there is a fierce part of me that wants to protect my identity as the healthy, strong young woman. This is how I view myself so I shall maintain this identity through this process as that is surely what will see me through. I remember my sister telling me about a billboard that had an image of the overwhelm and chaos one feels when receiving a cancer diagnosis. I think this is probably true for any diagnosis. And here I sit as a mental health therapist dealing with diagnoses quite often, and my heart is filled with such compassion for the way this news can rock one’s world. For me, it was a rupture, a complete fissure of trust.
What does this mean? How could my body betray me? How will I ever feel safe again?
This is trauma. I am a trauma therapist. Crazy. I understand that this this news disrupts my sense of myself and my sense of safety in the world. And healing and moving through this will come with integration. How do I make sense of this diagnosis? How can I integrate it into who I am? One way is for me to acknowledge my role in advocating for my health and getting this mammogram in the first place. As my friends and family continually point out, I know myself on a deep level and I am so thankful to have caught this early…so very grateful. And I use my health and strength that I work so hard to maintain every day to move through this. I always say that practicing during the normal times makes us ready to use skills when stress or crisis hits. Well – bingo!