“From Cancer Survivor to Fearful Fighter: The Shocking Truth About Life After Treatment”

## Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Reflections on Bravery

As someone who considers herself a bit of a wuss, the word “brave” isn’t one that I would typically use to describe myself. However, since my breast cancer diagnosis last summer, it’s a word that many people have used to describe me. While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t necessarily think it’s accurate. Here are some reflections on my journey so far:

### The Fear and Self-Pity

When I first received my diagnosis, I was terrified. The thought of having a 5cm grade three tumor was overwhelming, and I spent several days crying and worrying. Even before starting chemotherapy, I was dreading the drugs and the process of having them fed into me through a port in my chest. I winced every week when they punctured my skin to put in the line from the drip, and I cried whenever my hair fell out. It’s safe to say that I’ve had my fair share of fear and self-pity.

### The Stoical Moments

While I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as brave, I have had some stoical moments. I want to get better and move on, so I’ve agreed to the treatment I’ve been offered, no matter the side-effects. Even when things have been tough, I’ve tried to find things to smile about. However, I think that much of what I’ve done is more social conditioning than bravery.

### The Real Heroes

To me, the real heroes are the people who trialled the drugs I now take and the carers who look after their loved ones and keep smiling and encouraging them, even when they are tired and scared themselves. But even they may not feel brave.

### Being in Someone Else’s Hands

Throughout my treatment, I’ve been in someone else’s hands. I’ve had to engage with the explanations of the treatment and sometimes faced a choice of paths, but I’ve felt that the difficult bit was in someone else’s power. Those people are experts, and if you trust them, as I do, you can get a lot of comfort.

### Coping in the Big Bad World

Now that my treatment is over, I feel like a wild animal being released from captivity. I have to learn how to cope in the big bad world without the support networks I’ve been leaning on heavily for the last few months. While the doctors have talked positively about what they’ve done, and have told me I’m doing all I can to prevent a recurrence, I still worry about what could go wrong.

### Moving Forward

Moving forward, I will need to be braver than before. I will need to drop the caveats and move to a new way of living. It won’t be easy, but I’m hoping that with time, I’ll be able to let go of some of the fear and self-pity and embrace the future with hope.

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