Shay Moraga was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the beginning of 2016 and shares her journey with Desert Health® readers in an ongoing column…
2016 was a hard year. We lost some really great actors and artists. Just when the world started to get over Prince being gone, the end of the year took our favorite Princess, Carrie Fisher, away too soon. I pretended to be the Star Wars heroine as a child. She was strong, independent, authentic, yet had a soft side to her. She took no crap from anyone in her role on screen and seemed every bit confident to the core. I wonder if George Lucas ever had side notes for her that she needed to act out other emotions in her body language to show vulnerability. I wonder if right after the first Star Wars the actors were given a script and told, “you did not beat the Empire.” Actors, like cancer patients, get emerged into their roles. Sometimes so much that actors have to take downtime to get out of the role -much like cancer patients need to take care of themselves.
After going into remission December 1st 2016, the daily fight was over. No meds and only 6-month follow ups. For me, this is a lonely place in the universe to be in currently. I am cured to the world. I have beaten the Empire, my cancer. We have celebrated and life should get back to normal, but slowly the Empire (aka cancer) strikes back again – the aches and pains in my body, and slowly, the new mind games that come along with it. Could this be cancer slowly creeping back into my life?
When people ask how I am, I say I am getting stronger by the day, eating well, losing the chemo weight, back to teaching yoga and enjoying life not being in a doctor’s office all the time. Princess Leia, at the end of the movie when she’s putting medals on the heroes, pauses for a moment. If you look into her eyes, you see something is still unsettled. She knows there is still more to fight. Just like my own battle, I have to make sure my faith is strong and the people I surround myself with are true because my new battle is unseen.
For a cancer patient, as I am learning, the battle continues long after the chemo, surgeries and radiation. Most of this will not make sense to someone who has never had cancer and hopefully, you never will. But for those of us who have had it and are struggling, there are awesome breast cancer groups here in our valley that you can go to and discuss your fears, thoughts, and emotions. Our new battle can be worse than sitting once in the chemo chair. For those of you that want to help someone with cancer, know that it is a long road ahead. Just being there for them is the best thing you can do.
Cancer is a long journey and those who are still by our side are the true heroes.
To view previous columns or to leave a message for Shay, please visit DesertHealthNews.com and search ‘Shay’. For more information on triple negative breast cancer, visit www.tnbcfoundation.org.