A little Q & A with Jean, our wicked cool cancer survivor.
Jean, what are some ways that you coped during your treatments?
My treatment consisted of a bilateral mastectomy followed immediately by reconstruction, four chemo treatments, loss of hair, of course, and a hysterectomy to finish things off! It’s all overwhelming at first, but thanks to my husband, children, family, friends, and co-workers, I never felt so loved and supported in all my life.
Coping was easy because every time I started to a feel a little down, someone would shoot me a text, mail me a card, or drop in with food. I could almost start to cry again when I think of how blessed and cared for I was. I kept the ‘Get Well’ cards I received on the mantel in my kitchen so I could see and read them all the time.
How did you feel day-to-day?
I stayed as active as I could and worked nearly every day. I was sick to my stomach only once and that was the day after my first chemo treatment. I failed to eat something in the morning, prior to taking my medicine. Once I made the adjustment, I never had the problem again.
Talk to me about the importance of health during treatment (physical, mental, and emotional).
For the first time, I tried to pay attention to what my body was telling me, so I didn’t try to exercise or push myself on days when I needed extra rest. I do remember water skiing with a bald head at Lake Cumberland so I must have felt pretty good toward the end of my treatments. I was lucky, too, because most everything tasted good throughout my ordeal. I remember one friend of mine stopping in with the biggest lemon merengue pie I had ever seen. It was delicious!
The tougher part for me was keeping the mental and emotional parts in check. Daily devotionals helped and one of my sweet co-workers made me a CD with my favorite Christian songs on it. I would listen to that every morning at home and in my car on the way to work; it kept me positive and feeling very blessed.
What advice can you give to someone facing a cancer diagnosis?
I think it’s very easy to let Cancer scare you into submission or assume it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life. It’s so important to remind yourself how lucky you are to have options and access to good healthcare. I trusted my physicians. I trusted God and asked Him to remove all fear. Honestly, He did! I never felt alone. I never felt hopeless.
I think prayer and the support from others is the best way to fight cancer. And if I ever start to feel a little fear trying to creep back into my life, I go back and read the notes that I wrote in my daily devotional and I look at the picture of my friends who ran for me in the Komen Race. And I thank God for the experience. Strange, but true.