The Reality Hits: I Have Cancer

You may find yourself walking around at work or at home, or in the car driving and it hits you: I have cancer. The word cancer seems to pop into your mind out of nowhere while doing daily activities. At first it may seem surreal and then there is no denying it, you have breast cancer. How do you work with this reality? The word cancer constantly flashes like a neon light in your mind and in your world. Allowing breast cancer to be a part of your life without letting it consume your whole life is a difficult task, but it can be done. It takes commitment and purpose. Understand that it has to settle in your mind for a while and you need to not fear your breast cancer, but work with it. In other words, you have to get used to the reality that you have breast cancer. And in some strange way, you become comfortable with breast cancer being a part of your life for now.

In Her Own Words

I think when I was told, I was in shock. I kind of had a bad feeling about the whole situation. I never told anyone until now that I feared years ago that I might get cancer. I don't know why but I did. So when that day came and I was told, I think I thought it was a bad dream.

— Nancy, age 54, 3½-year survivor

Looking at your breast cancer in a detached way may help you accept the reality in order for you to not fear it. You are bigger than your breast cancer. Individuals who can look at themselves from this detached perspective, and even with humor, are recognized as having a healthy survival skill. This technique even has some basis in psychoanalysis — Sigmund Freud used it, theorizing that looking at a problem in a detached way, including with humor, is an effective coping skill when dealing with major life events.

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