The unknown is what I fear most. Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer has created a constant fear of the unknown, not being able to control things that I want to. It has created an inescapable anxiety, starting and ending each day with cancer on my mind; and mourning my future. It is a constant struggle, even days with good news I often find myself celebrating briefly but shortly thereafter anticipating and fearing the next appointment, tests or scans. Every new pain creates anxiety, thoughts that my cancer has spread. The mind is very powerful, and it is one part of my journey I know I can control, with difficulty of course. Daily I fight to challenge the barriers MBC has created. I try to live life as if I am free from cancer, free from limits placed on my dreams and ambitions, free from mourning my future; it is challenging, one of the toughest parts of my journey. I am determined not to let cancer control what I can, trying desperately to maintain an emotional balance; live each day to the fullest. I can imagine at some point cancer will not be the first and last thing I think about every day; it’s one of the greater challenges of my fight. And quitting is simply not an option.
Just recently on a much-needed vacation I planned for lots of rest, relaxation and recharging my batteries to keep up the fight, I was able to forget about my cancer. I felt “normal” and I made a conscious effort to not think about cancer, rather enjoy every moment. I have been feeling emotionally exhausted, having my mind consumed by cancer; I embraced the week, letting go of cancer, and trying to just simply live. The emotional battle of living with MBC never goes away, but I work hard to find the strength to redirect my thoughts and not allow the negative thoughts about living with MBC to control my mind. Although there are certainly daily reminders like pain, or hot flashes, nausea from medications I truly for the first time since I had been diagnosed was able better control my thoughts and not let MBC be the first and last thoughts of my day. I am taking that as a huge win over cancer. I am not saying that at points I did not think about cancer because I did, it is my life now, but I was determined to live one week without fear, fear of my future, fear of new disease progression. It was a week to live normally; despite “my new normal” I wanted to be free from the barriers of living with MBC.
It may be difficult for people to understand how difficult living with MBC truly is, physically I look good, even with the constant pain I’m not one to let that hinder me from doing anything; but yes there are times when I feel weak despite efforts to stay strong. Pain is tolerable and I refuse to let it be a barrier that limits me from doing anything. I’m not a complainer and so I can live with the pain even at its worst, I am determined not to let Cancer take more away from me than it already has. It is a balance, as my oncologist reminds me frequently it is a marathon; I work every day to find balance, there are plenty of days it all seems too much. I wish that I wasn’t in this situation; I wish the people in my life didn’t have to endure the journey as well. There are many days I’m angry that I have MBC, but I learn something new about myself fighting MBC every day. I found strength I didn’t know I have to keep fighting. My hope is that through my journey I can encourage others no matter challenges you may face keep fighting; as hard and as challenging as things can be maintaining a positive outlook is a vital part to my fight or anyone’s fight. I am learning through living with MBC that when I feel weak that is ok, it doesn’t mean I am giving up, nor does it question my strength; I’m human I do have moments of weakness, but I get through those moments with support and the power of positive thinking.