#102 What Breast Cancer Did to My Life

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Breast cancer is a devastating diagnosis, and it can have a significant impact on your thoughts, actions, and the people around you.  But it isn't cancer that results in the tough stuff in your life, it's the thoughts and actions of the people around that create the situation your living in. 

In this week's show, we'll talk about what breast cancer has really done to your life vs. what you are allowing to happen in your life. It's not an easy thing to hear or to face, but the truth is your living a life that's the result of your choices. 

Do you expect others to treat you well, or do you stay silent when they behave inappropriately? 

Are you unhappy and working toward change, or is choosing happiness too much work for you? Let's dig into the power and the options you have to create the life you want to live. 


The Negative Health Effects of a Bad Relationship 

Social friction tied to inflammation 

How to Reinforce Positive Support & Mitigate Toxic Relationships During and After Treatment 


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This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.

Where Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And as always, I'm so grateful that you're here listening, downloading the show today. Welcome, welcome. If you are new to the show, welcome. I'm so happy that you found me that you found this podcast.

And if you're a repeat listener, thank you for coming back again and again and supporting the show. And I just want to put this out there that if you have the time, if you enjoy the breast cancer recovery coach podcast, please take the time to go to the iTunes Store and leave a rating and review for the show. It just makes it that much easier for other people to find it and helps out a lot. And I really, really appreciate it. I know it takes a lot of a little extra time and planning on your part. But it means the world to me. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all of you who have already done so and thank you in advance for those of you who will do it. I really appreciate it.

Okay, let's jump right into this. So, like many of the shows that I do, this one was not really planned. There was another topic I was going to talk about. But because of the events that have happened over the past two weeks, my heart has really led me here, and I hope that this show will help someone who needs it.

So if you're new to this podcast, you may not know that I have a free Facebook group called The Breast Cancer recovery group. There's several hundred women in this group. And it's a mix of women who are in and out of treatment. But I created this group with the intention of making and creating a space where other survivors and when I say survivors, I mean, any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is still alive.

I created this group for other survivors who want to live a thriving and fulfilling life after breast cancer, for them to come together and support each other in accomplishing that because it's not easy. There's a lot we have to move through a lot; we have to manage a lot we have to deal with. And I had never heard of such a thing or such a space while I was in treatment. And so, I never thought about why that would even be needed. I never thought about anything but going back to normal after treatment. So, I never even considered that there would be a need for a space like this.

But there absolutely is.

When we feel Death, as we do when we're diagnosed with breast cancer, I mean, that's literally what you're doing, right? You're looking at your own mortality, and you're forced to make decisions to support your choice. And most of the time, that choice is to continue to live. So, when we say the phrase, life is too short, and some people just say that very nonchalantly, in that moment, when you have a breast cancer diagnosis, that phrase becomes a reality for you. And there is no more going back from knowing from that knowing, you know, and I'm air quotes, "you know" that life is short.

And that realization happens when you get a diagnosis like that. It changes you. It changes the way you look at life. And sometimes, when you feel that you feel that shift, you feel that change, you have enough self-awareness to realize something inside of you has shifted. And that's the point where many women seek me out; they need help and support from someone who gets what they're going through. So, they reach out, they chat, take action, and they create change. But sometimes you give in to fear; you give in to fear of the unknown, fear of what might be. And rather than listening to yourself, your body, your intuition, you cling to what you've been conditioned to believe, means security, safety, perhaps the right thing to do. And you stay where you are feeling miserable, lonely, insecure, a whole list of other adjectives that you probably don't want use when describing your life situation.

So I was diagnosed on July 11 of 2011. And that was six months after I had left a 12-year marriage. So, when the people in my family who loved me dearly and have their own belief systems heard about my diagnosis, many of them called me and asked if I would go back to my Husband. And at first, I was shocked by that question, I thought, Why the hell would I go back to a situation that freaking gave me cancer? Why would I go back to an existence? I would tell myself on a daily basis, this is killing me. This is making me sick. And then I realized that the people who were asking that question hold on very dearly to their idea of security.

Their story was that I was alone. And they were horrified by that. How are you going to deal with cancer by yourself? And you should go back to someone who will take care of you. Because if there's someone who's a constant in your life, and that person has an income. Certainly, would choose to go back to that. Rather than do this on your own with four kids, two still living at home, trying to make ends meet on your own. But What I heard was will you choose physical Death from breast cancer because they thought it was too much for me to do on my own or sold us from a toxic relationship. That sucked the life out of me.

And if I had to go back to living like that, I would prefer Death. Because to me, it was like, I don't know, living in The Walking Dead. Right. But I also believe in myself more than that. Never once did it occur to me to abandon the new wonderful life, I was creating in favor of something easier. And would that really have been easier? I mean, think about it going back to a situation like that, where you're so unhappy. I don't think that's easier, not to me. So, we just had a difference of opinion. Some people believe security is everything. And another person in your life means security. And some people don't.

So I'll be honest with you this is it's really not an easy show for me to do. It's very personal. It's very sensitive, and it can be controversial. So, let me just say that what I am about to dig into is not a rant to encourage anyone to leave a primary relationship in their life. It is only to encourage you to evaluate the primary relationships in your life. And are they fulfilling you, serving you, supporting you? And how can you make those relationships stronger, or face the reality of what's happened to them, tap into your own strengths and leave behind that which not only doesn't serve you but in fact, makes you sick?

And this can be a relationship with a spouse or life partner or a family member, a frenemy, or even a job or career it's a near-daily or daily relationship interaction that you have that you're getting telling yourself you can't get away from and that you just have to learn to live with. Now in the world of Science, when there are no clinical studies to prove something, they say that the evidence is just anecdotal, meaning its informal evidence, and it's just based on somebody's story of their own experience. So anecdotally, I'll tell you that I believe the last several years of my former marriage contributed to me having cancer. And I meet and work with many, many, many women who tell me the same thing.

Now when I said a moment ago that the relationship was making me sick, that wasn't just drama. That was an accurate translation of how my physical body was experiencing and reacting to that relationship. And those feelings were fueled by the thoughts that I had about that relationship. They were thoughts that I recently read in many comments in the breast cancer recovery group. And those thoughts those statements resonated so deeply with me that I had to talk about them here because I know the pain and the awful, awful feeling that comes with being in an unhealthy relationship. But I also know 100% I know this; you have the power to change it. And I don't necessarily mean Leave it. For some people, that is the answer, but for some, it isn't. And that's okay. You have the power to change it.

One of the things that I often see is the statement or posts that say cancer ruined my relationship. And I have to say to you, that is not a true statement. Breast Cancer is a circumstance, and it's a circumstance that could take your life if you don't act and treat it and more. There's all kinds of variables. And the only way that it can end your relationship is through that end, by taking your life. Aside from that, the way you and those who are in relationships with think about breast cancer, and what it means the way they feel about it. And as a result, the way they act because of their thoughts, that is the stuff that makes or breaks relationships.

So if you're in a relationship and you find yourself feeling alone, or you tell yourself, you're not strong enough to change things, or you tell yourself all kinds of stories of how hard it will be to create any kind of change, or that this is the best you think you can do, or the best you think you deserve, please, please listen carefully to the show. And by the end of it, I'm hopeful that something will spark inside of you. And that something will remind you, you have the power inside of you to create anything, anything. It's not easy, it takes work, but you can create anything that you deserve and dream of in this life.

Now I started dating my current my now Husband, just about three months before I was diagnosed. And I remember my mom saying to me, and you know how moms are filterless? What a nice man to stick around while you're going through this.

I was taken aback by that statement because, one, I didn't think of myself as less of a person because I was dealing with cancer, and two why would I settle for any person who wouldn't stick by me and care for me and love me during a tough time? I deserve that. And I wouldn't want someone in my life who treated me less than that. So, you know, my mom, it's okay. She's an old school. And I get she has a tough time wrapping her head, her head around, a woman valuing herself that much and living with healthy boundaries and expectations. But then a lot of us new school women had the same thought problem, don't we?

So I started this off by sharing my little anecdotal insight with you. But now I actually want to share something Science with you. This backs up my story. In an article published by Keck Medicine at the University of California called the negative effects of a bad relationship. The author, Diana pi, talks about several health implications that can result from a bad relationship, including, and not limited to increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, obesity. And I'm going to share a story about that with you in a minute too. She also talks about how the constant stress of a bad relationship causes your body to undergo consistent stress. And that's a result of always being in fight or flight mode. And that leads to a weakened immune system, which is something I know you don't want. And I know I allowed myself to have as a result of the stories I told myself about why I needed to tolerate what was making me ill.

In 2012, Science News published A study conducted by a UCLA School of Medicine. In this study, they looked at 122 healthy young people, and they had no history of inflammatory problems, no heart disease, no depression. And they took baseline samples of these kids, saliva, blood. And after a period of time, they tested them again. And it was just a few days; it wasn't a long period of time. And they found that the students that had documented the most negative social interactions between that baseline test and their follow up analysis had much higher levels of inflammatory proteins than the participants who had not had negative social interactions, or had any experiences that they perceived as being stressful. And we know and Science has proven that chronic inflammation is a risk factor for cancer.

Now, I share these studies with you because health consists of so much more than food and exercise. Shelly Taylor, one of the authors of the study done at UCLA said and I quote, "relationships are vital to health, like your diet" unquote, wellness, my friends, it's a healthy lifestyle. And that includes all aspects of your life, your mental and emotional wellbeing, and social support being especially important. So, I said a moment ago, I was going to share a story about increased levels of obesity. And on more than one occasion, I have had conversations with women in very unhappy relationships, who have said, you know, I've gained so much weight, but I think I put this weight on so that he'll stay away from me so that he won't be excited by me or want to be intimate with me.

And we need to become really aware of that kind of situation. We need to become really aware of ourselves and our thoughts because gaining that kind of weight to avoid a situation is not healthy. And we know that obesity is a risk fast a risk factor for cancer and cancer recurrence. So, it's not easy to speak up for yourself. It's not easy always to have that healthy boundary. And we tell ourselves it's easier just not to say anything. But in so in doing that, you may be causing horrible harm to yourself. You can eat all the veggies and lift all the weights. But if you go home or you go to a job, but the toxic environment that leaves you feeling drained, inadequate, isolated, unsafe, lonely, stressed out, you're failing to address a vital part of your life that could contribute to further illness.

Now, obviously, I can't solve those problems, nor can you in one podcast episode, but I want to give you some things to consider as options. And I encourage you to begin the exercise of journaling about the options so that you can increase your awareness of what you're allowing to happen in your life. And to remind yourself, you have the power, you have the strength, and you will find the support to create the change you need and want.

When it comes to being in toxic or unfulfilling relationships, you have a couple of choices.

So one, you can stay right where you are. And you can try to change the way you think about the relationship, right? So that doesn't make you feel so bad. You can work on understanding someone else's actions and their choices and realize that their choices are their own. They're based on that person's thoughts and experiences in life and the world and how they choose to look at the world. And they're not a result of what happened to you. And they're certainly not because of you.

Think of any other situation in your life where you have interacted with a person that was behaving inappropriately to towards something you said or did. And you stop yourself from engaging, and you walked away from someone else's unacceptable behavior. Their behavior was their choice. Just as your decision not to accept it was your choice. We always have that choice available to us. So, if you think you're in an unhealthy relationship, you can start by changing the way you act and react to the person in that relationship. So that the interactions with that person don't leave you with feelings of stress or inadequacy or other emotions that leave you feeling physically drained and ill. Right, you don't have to respond.

Taking a mindful approach to your day can be helpful with this. So, noticing the things that you think about yourself and about the person that you're engaging with, that can bring you awareness of the choices that you're making and why you're making them. You know, like when we're kids and Your sibling comes up, and they hit you. And then you hit them. And then that sibling screams at your mom and says they hit me. And your mom comes, you're like, well, he hit me first. And you know, your mom's I will be would have jumped off a cliff, would you?


Well, it's kind of the same theory, right? People can act the way that they're going to act. But you get to choose independently of that, how you act, what you think, and how you feel. So, here's a little prompt for a mindfulness exercise for this situation. It's kind of a silly example to bring up kids again, but it makes me think of I statements that are taught to kids in school when our teachers in the education system is training them on how to deal with bullies. So, you know the one the I statements is I feel like this when you do that.

Only I would like to offer a twist on that statement because, as I just said, you get to choose how you feel. So, I would ask you to write this way. I feel like this when I think I am. Fill in the blank. Or I Like this when I think you are, fill in the blank. What are you thinking about yourself? What are you thinking about that person that's causing you to have feelings you don't like? It's a simple exercise, but it's not an easy one. And it can really dig up some really powerful stuff.

So a second option is to fix a relationship. And again, taking a mindful approach to why you are where you are. Meaning examining what healthy boundaries you have, remember that boundaries are the expectation you set for how other people will treat you, and how you expect yourself to be treated by yourself. Right. Oftentimes, we need boundaries for ourselves. Sometimes we get stuck in conditioned thinking patterns, and we tell ourselves that this person will act that way if we say how we feel, and we don't want to deal with that. So, we just don't say anything.

And I want to remind you that the choice to not say anything is a choice. It's a decision you make, and it doesn't make you a victim. And it doesn't make you a martyr. It just means you decided not to act. And in doing so, you didn't make someone aware of your boundary, or of how you expect to be treated. But if you do some work on yourself and get enough strength to change your behavior and your interactions and your reactions, and then in a calm and constructive way, you change your own behavior, your own reactions. Trust me, the behaviors of those people around you will begin to shift.

So your brain is probably throwing all kinds of arguments as to why that is not true at you right now. But trust me, it is true. If you want to change the dynamic of a relationship, start by changing your actions and your reactions.

As the third option, you can leave a relationship. You can quit the job, and you can tell whoever it is that you're not going to allow them to be around you when they treat you in a certain way that is less than what you deserve. And that is not always easy. I know I've done it. It's not an easy choice. But sometimes it is the best choice for your happiness in your life. All the things you tell yourself, all the reasons you say why you can't do it, why it will be hard, why you'll be the bad guy. Those are all just stories of a future you're imagining. They're not necessarily truths.

In a February 2020 article on the Coleman blog, called How to reinforce positive support and mitigate toxic relationships after entering treatment. The author of that article, Samantha Harris, says, and this is a quote, "dealing with the day to day discomfort, fears, pain, and endless questions can isolate us, but only if we let it. Cancer doesn't own us. We are the CEOs of our own health and wellbeing. And like any good leader, we need to surround ourselves with reinforcements as well as delegate duties and, at times, fire some people. We each have the power within ourselves to make the diagnosis seem like a gift to use it to weed out the toxic relationships and reinforce the positive, supportive squad you deserve." Unquote.

Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. Choose or find someone to be your champion, someone you can talk to who helps you understand your worth, know your value, and see your own potential to create the best life for your future self.

And finally, as a fourth option, you have the option to do absolutely nothing. You can stay right where you are not working on it, not making any changes, feeling sick and miserable. And according to the results from the studies, we refer to earlier, potentially making yourself truly ill. I don't want that for you. And I know you don't want that for yourself.

As survivors, we have to make a choice to give our power to cancer, even if it's in our past, or to look at the experience we had with cancer, the situations and the revelations that resulted from that experience and asked ourselves, what can I learn from this that will lead me to live the life I want or lead me to even figure out the life I want to live? Sometimes we're not sure it's very murky. It's very unclear. It's very unstable and uncertain, and that's okay as long as you take steps towards figuring it out. I know you have more power within you than you give yourself credit for.

Almost every woman does.

I know you deserve to be loved, treated like a queen, respected, and admired. For all of the talents and kindnesses that you possess, but the very first thing that has to happen for you to have that in your life, is you have to believe it for yourself. You've got to see yourself as valuable. And when I see other survivors posting things, like, I don't have a choice. I know he doesn't love me, but there's nothing I can do. Cancer ruin my life; cancer ruined my marriage. It literally breaks my heart, and I want to call you. I want to message all of you and say, give me your phone number. I want to get you on the phone and call you and coach you and support you and let you know. You can change your life. That's not true. That's unacceptable situations, and you can change them. And that's why I'm here. That's why I do what I do. So that you can live a happy, fulfilling, empowered life.

So if this resonated with you, please reach out, find positive support. Join The Breast Cancer Recovery Group. And if you're already in The Breast Cancer Recovery Group and you need more support, enroll in the breast cancer recovery course, and begin to work on healing your mind and body and creating change in your life.

And yes, with me, I believe 100% in the coaching programs that I put out for you, and I know that they work if you do the work, because I work with women every day who have made those changes. I want those changes for you too. So go to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com and take your first steps or pull out your journal, go back and listen to this podcast and start writing those things down and creating awareness for yourself.

In fact, lately, I've had so many women reach out to me for the support that I normally only open Revivify in January and July, but I decided that I'm going to do an additional enrollment period for Revivify and I'm going to add one in a coaching program in October. So, look for details of that coming soon. But I just there's so much need out there right now. And I know this COVID and this pandemic, and the isolation, that adds to it, and I get it.

And so I want to be there. And I'm going to put another opportunity for people to get in and start working on themselves in that coaching program. And I'm excited about it. You know, I think that it's a great thing to be able to be in the world and be able to support other people who are trying to make their best lives, and we can do it. We got this.

So don't wait. Don't take another day. Don't listen to yourself saying cancer ruins my life. There is support available for you, and life isn't ruined. There's still today, and today can be awesome.

Anything can change. I promise you that.

Thank you for listening today. And thank you for your continued support of this podcast. And I love you, ladies. I love you for being there, and I love working with you. I know the hell you've been through. And I promise you so many more wonderful things are in life, and they're all just there for the taking.

I just need you to believe that too.

Alright, I'll talk to you again next week, and until then, please be good to yourself.



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