It has only been six months since I went into remission. I can remember very vividly last year at this time I had no hair, no eyelashes or eyebrows. My body was bloated from all the medication and the heat was so bad. I had an abundance of Shay’s Warriors surrounding me weekly and sometimes daily. I was more grateful and opened my heart up to more love than I ever had in my life. I ate well, rested, did a lot of self-care that included yoga and meditation, but most of all I prayed. I prayed really, really hard every time I felt the sense of fear start to fester inside my belly. I would reach out to my core family and friends who stayed by my side weekly. By doing all of that, I was able to beat the fear of Cancer and I truly believe beat Cancer itself.
When I saw my oncologist last December, he gave me the pep talk, “You are in remission. Go on, live your life. I will see you in six months.” Blah Blah Blah…you know they have to prepare you because they set you free from the months of being surrounded in your safe zone with doctors, nurses and everything you had to keep you fighting to stay alive. Then he said something strange to me. He said, “You are a strong person but know that as time goes on, you will start to self-doubt. Your mind will play tricks on you. Learn tools to help you get through that phase of the healing. Not everything will be Cancer even though you might think that way.” I immediately said to him, “No. I will be good. I will see you in six months.” I just could not wait to get out of that office and be surrounded by positivity, my wonderful family and great friends. I could not imagine my mind going to a dark place again.
For four months I did really well. I got right back into volunteering, working again, packing my schedule with all the things that I had been missing over the past year. Things were going great. I would see friends out and about and they would ask, “How are you doing?” I would reply with, “Great! I feel good. All my hair is coming back, I joined a breast cancer group, doing my spin and yoga again, the weight is coming off and back to working full time. Life is good!”
All was going well until about six weeks ago. While I was in the shower I felt a lump. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Instantly, fear filled my belly. What my doctor told me would happen, did. I denied that I felt the lump. I buried it deep within me. When people would ask how I was I still said “great” and lied right through my smile. At night I would go home and behind closed doors feel the lump over and over again. I did not tell anyone. I never had any intention of doing anything about it out of fear that it could be very real again.
My mind soon took me to some dark places…more and more. The fear started to consume me like a big snowball. I soon felt depressed and withdrawn. I tried so hard to be positive and move the thoughts to a place of positivity. When I tried to reach out to some of my friends, life had moved on for them, too – back to “the busy.” I would go to my breast cancer groups and they would understand, but if I missed the weekly group, I would spiral out of control.
Then one night at 1:14 in the morning, I broke. I sat up and wept silently like I never had before. I was scared. I had tried so hard to deny that there was a possibility the cancer was back. I didn’t want to face this all over again. It was supposed to be a happy time.
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.