When I was 60 years old, following a routine mammogram, my family doctor called to say that the radiologist had noticed a lump in my breast that was 2 cm. He suggested that I see a surgeon to have a biopsy. I waited four weeks to get an appointment with the surgeon and then another two weeks to have a biopsy. It took an additional three and a half weeks to receive the result of the biopsy. The result was lobular cancer. After that diagnosis, I had a lumpectomy. I didn’t have my nodes removed because I’m a singer and I was afraid of what node dissection would do to my chest muscles. Sixteen weeks after my surgery, I had five weeks of radiation with a boost in the last week. After that, I began taking tamoxifen. There is no history of breast cancer in my family. I had four children and I breast-fed all of them. I was taking hormone replacement therapy daily at the time of diagnosis.
Toolkit Takeaway: Use the Power of Your Mind
For the two years prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was so happy and things seemed to be going well. I’m a professional singer and I was enjoying my singing so much. Then in February I learned that I needed a hysterectomy. A couple of weeks after the hysterectomy I traveled to the Caribbean where, lifting luggage, I tore my vagina, which needed major repair. In July, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and in August I was told I had an incisional hernia. It seemed as if everything was happening at once. Emotionally, it was hard and deep inside me there was despair. I was afraid that my life was going to end and that I wouldn’t see my grandchildren grow up. At the same time my husband had to go through surgery for glaucoma in both eyes. It was a difficult time.
All of this sounds pretty negative but I want to tell you what helped me to cope. I tried to use my mind to control my thoughts. Prior to and during each of my surgeries, I listened to a set of CD’s produced through the Monroe Institute called The Surgical Support Series. They have CD’s for almost every health situation imaginable. I found the benefits of using these discs amazing. I experienced reduced anxiety, stabilized blood pressure and a quicker recuperation. I needed fewer anaesthetics and had no need for any pain medication following surgery because I experienced no pain. The discs changed my thinking and put me into a positive frame of mind. They helped my body to heal by suggestion. I left the hospital earlier than was usual and my doctors were pleased.
My husband and I also tried to stay positive in our daily lives. We would watch reruns of the Carol Burnett show, which made us laugh and enjoyed the jokes sent to us by family and friends.
Music also is a very important part of my life. Whether I’m singing or listening to beautiful music, it calms me and enriches my soul. Music helps when words fail. It gives me time to sit and reflect. I gave myself time to enjoy all aspects of the music I loved.
My additional suggestions for coping are: avoid all negative people; introduce some humour into your life; find your passion, your creative outlet, anything that totally absorbs you. I was amazed at the tremendous power of the mind and the impact that positive thoughts can have.
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