The C-Word
I just wish it wasn’t the word cancer

“You have breast cancer.” For many, once they hear the word “cancer”, they believe that their life will never be the same. It’s hard to articulate what those words feel like and what we equate them with. Cancer is such a frightening word. Many of us immediately equate “The C-Word” with death, chemotherapy, hair loss, nausea, and in the case of breast cancer, losing our breasts.

I don’t think you can hear the word cancer and not be scared. -- Jeanna B.

We view cancer to be a formidable enemy, and we believe ourselves needing to engage in a battle, a war. After the initial shock subsides, it’s important to recognize that cancer is a journey, not a battle. There are many reasons to be hopeful. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of women living healthy lives beyond breast cancer. It’s important to understand your diagnosis, the specifics of your cancer, and your treatment options. The “C-Word” is a challenge. Surround yourself with the best medical team and focus on taking one step at a time.

"It was a very big shock. It's very confusing when you get diagnosed. Your life turns upside down."
"It's a scary thing...you say cancer. You don't know how people will take it. Some people wouldn't want to be caught up in that."
"The word cancer...I just couldn't get it out of my mind. I didn't think I was going to die from it, but I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was."
"The "C-Word" just isn't as scary anymore, maybe that's because I've already been through all of the bad parts of it."
"What I remember most is that feeling that my whole body was on fire from the adrenaline rush."
"Just think of all of the movies you've seen about cancer. When I get this diagnosis, that's what I'm thinking. That's going to be me."
"I'll never forget that day. I have cancer...it's this word that really is loaded. It terrified me at the time."
"When you're told that you have breast cancer, for me it was like a kick in the stomach. I walked around in suspended animation."
Fear of Recurrence
There are still days when I’m afraid to believe and hope that it can all be something that just happened to me in 2009 and 2010. I’m afraid to hope that I can be 65 and look back, because then I’ll be devastated if that doesn't happen. But you have to have hope. -- Susie P.
I think you're always afraid of how you're going to feel if it happens again. What if I have a recurrence?

What happens when treatment ends?  Are we survivors?  Do we return to our lives as they once were; absent doctors, constant appointments, treatments, and breast cancer screenings?  Instead are we full of hope, and encouraged by the promise of tomorrow?  The answer is yes.  But for many, unfortunately, there is also a nagging fear, the uncertainty of recurrence.  “Did they get it all?” “Did I do enough?”

This is natural and to be expected. It’s important to remember that although you can’t control cancer, you can control your positive spirit and choose to focus on each day by living in the present and not allowing the unknowns of tomorrow to take precedence in your life.

Don’t deny your fears, but instead talk to others who've been through it as well. Their understanding will help ease your anxieties. Time will help heal and remember that every day is an opportunity for a step in the right direction.

"If I'm cancer free for five years,I'm free. You're never free. You just can't dwell on it. You have to live your life."
"I made a big decision. Think positive, positive, positive."
"Obviously you worry about it coming back. When the doctor tells you that you have an 85% long-term survival rate, you hold on to those numbers."
"It's always in the back of my mind that it's a possibility. All indications are that everything's great, and that I'm healed and in remission."
"Whenever I have something that hurts, I ask Matt, 'Do you think it's cancer?'"
"The people around you want to believe that it's all going to be okay. As the person whose been diagnosed, I needed to be realistic. There's some element of doubt there."
"I feel like I live my life in three month increments."
"I'm on the other side of it now. I think about it every day, but I don't dwell on it."
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