I belong to a Facebook group for people who have been diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It is an aggressive form of breast cancer which has a poor prognosis for the first few years but the statistics for recurrence drop dramatically after the first three years. Since the prognosis is so poor, the person who is diagnosed with TNBC initially struggles with discouragement and despair. Since only about 15% of all breast cancers are TNBC, it is important that long-term survivors such as myself (10 years), share our stories with those who are facing or are going through treatment.
In the middle of all of the questions and posts expressing their fears, a woman started a new thread. She wanted people to share the "good aspects" of going through treatment. As I read through the responses, I found myself not only remembering but chuckling a bit.
A popular response was how quick it was to do your hair. All that is required is a little dab of shampoo massaged onto your scalp to keep things neat and tidy, rinse, dry your head and put on some sort of head covering or even go without one if you like. Some women get very creative with what they put on their heads and try to have some laughter in spite of their tears. Other people talked about gifts they had received, not having to wear make-up, gaining a new appreciation for the little things in life and so forth. Still others shared funny stories that had happened to them. As I read through them, I recalled a story I'd heard from a woman a few years ago. She had lost her wig while driving a convertible. She was initially mortified when it flew off her head but then the humor of the situation overcame her and she was laughing by the time a strange man had retrieved and returned it. That made him laugh as well. An uncomfortable and awkward situation changed because she was able to see the funny side of the situation.
I know. Not all situations have a funny side like this one and tragedy is no laughing matter. Still, I believe it is important to look for those little glimmers of light in the darkness. Many people talked about how being diagnosed with cancer gave them a greater appreciation for the things in life that are truly important. For some, it was a catalyst to restore broken family/friend relationships. Others talked about how they found they were thinking more of others, they had greater compassion on those who were in trouble. One of the things I shared was that the goiter I'd had since I was eleven years old, vanished during chemo and I have not seen hide nor hair of it since. My oncologist couldn't figure that one out and finally told it must have developed due to puberty and vanished when I had chemo-induced menopause. Personally I don't care why it is gone. I only know that I no longer have a "fat neck" that people sort of stared at from time to time.
Admidst all the funny stories and posts, there were a handful of sad ones. There were very few of these but they were interspersed here and there. For them, there were no glimmers of light. There was only darkness and despair and my heart ached for them.
There is a Bible verse taped to my computer monitor which says:
"As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more!" Psalm 71:14. (NIV)
Even in the darkness, we can have hope. Why? Because of Jesus Christ!
Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.