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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

10/23/15  12:08 PM  Posted by Sharon  Permalink 

October 2015
It's been two and a half years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I am writing to all of you who have just received this dreadful diagnosis in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

First let me say that you are not alone. There is an army of us that have walked this journey before you. We are all around you - so please do not be afraid to let those around you know what is happening because the sooner you spread the word, the sooner you will find yourself surrounded by us survivors.
Being diagnosed with cancer is very scary. Suddenly, it feels as though your hold world is falling to pieces. I want you to know that the Big "C" does not mean you will necessarily face the Big "D" - cancer is not always a death sentence. There is so much hope for those of us with breast cancer because of cutting edge medical technology that is available.
I want you to breathe. Then I want you to realize that you will not die from this disease in the next few weeks. You have time to get all the knowledge you need to make good decisions about your treatment.
Start my getting a second opinion. Hear me on this. It is critical that you give yourself this gift of time and wisdom. Reach out to others that have walked this path. I got a recommendation of an amazing doctor from two of my friends that did not know each other yet both recommended the same doctor. Dr. Beth DuPree is to me, the most amazing woman I have ever met.
She has developed and is teaching all over the world, cutting edge mastectomy. I have one of the most beautiful mastectomies ever. Who would ever think of putting "beautiful" and "mastectomy" together in the same sentence? But it is true. Dr. Beth spent 2 hours with me on my first consultation explaining all my options and even drawing me pictures. This was so critical to my making the right decision regarding my treatment.
The first physician that made my diagnosis barely gave me 15 minutes time. Finding someone you trust is important.
I also recommend you bring along close women friends to all of your appointments. This is a stressful time, having friends taking notes and listening along with you will assure that you remember what was said correctly. I was blessed with two dear friends that walked almost all of this journey with me from doctor appointments, surgery, chemo and all the rest of it. It made all the difference in the world to know they were there.
As a believer I was also surrounded with pray warriors. Pray was such an important part of my thriving.
Humor is also your friend. Although this is a tough experience, it does not have to be all terrible and depressing. Start by surrounding yourself with good friends, funny movies and a decision to let this experience make you better and not bitter. You will get through this. There will be tough days, but they usually last only at most several days.
You do not need to be a hero; you just need to endure this process. The best way to do this is with the help and comfort of people that love you. My friends were absolutely amazing. They cared for me and my husband Dave.
They used a website: to keep things organized. They organized meals, a schedule of who would go with me to chemo and simply keeping track of who could be available to sit with me when necessary. Honestly, sometimes that is all I needed. When I was feeling really awful after treatment it was comforting to know that someone was there.
I also found that blogging was an easy way to keep my family and friends up-to-date without having to repeat myself several times a day with phone calls. Since I work in television, my life was pretty much an open book before my diagnosis, so publicly blogging made sense for me. However, Caring Bridge allows you to create your own site and you determine who can view it. Sharing your feelings or simply writing them out will help you process and make this season of life easier.
The one thing for sure is that having this diagnosis and going through treatment will change you. You will be a different person a year from now than you were before. That is a good thing. It will help you realize what is most important to you. Who you become is a choice of deciding to make this experience make you "better" and not "bitter."
Remember, you are in charge - not your cancer. So let's get started on your journey. The sooner you start, the faster it will be over and you can move on to being a Thriver!
Sharon Hanby-Robie, ASID

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