#146 Ten Lessons From Ten Years of Surviving Breast Cancer

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It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since the first time I heard the words, “You have Breast Cancer.” 

During that time, I’ve learned some powerful lessons. 

I’ve shifted the way I think about cancer, I’ve supported and learned from hundreds of other women in my workshops, webinars, coachings, and programs. 

Now, I work every day to support my body’s ability to heal from a stage 4 recurrence in October of 2020. 

In this episode, I’ll share ten of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about healing from breast cancer and designing my most fulfilling life…a life that’s bigger than breast cancer. 

Referred to in this episode: 

Genopalate 

The Better Than Before Breast Cancer Workshop

The Revived Membership Experience

 

Read Below for Full Transcript:

0:00
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.

0:37
Hello, and welcome to Episode 146 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast honestly blows me away to even hear that number coming out of my mouth 146 shows and there's a bonus show in there, so 147.

0:52
And I'm reflecting back on a lot that's happened not only with this podcast but with my life because July 11, this Sunday is my 10 year anniversary from the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

1:09
I was diagnosed on July 11, 2011.

1:14
And it's not only shocking to me to think 10 years have passed already. But when I look back at that 10 years, and I see how much I've learned and how much my life has changed in that time, and a lot of it because of breast cancer because of that experience of breast cancer and what it's meant to me and the work I've had to do or not had to do, but chosen to do on myself as a result of going through that experience. And then again, being diagnosed in 2020. And now living with the focus of healing from this disease. And so I thought that I would make a couple of special announcements actually for this show.

1:56
And then this show is actually going to be about the top 10 things that I have learned in the last 10 years because of going through breast cancer. And they're not going to be said in any specific order. Because as I looked at them, I kind of thought about that at first I thought let's do a top 10 countdown. And as I wrote out the list of way more than 10 things and then had to parse it down to 10 things. But as I wrote out this list, I realized, you know, there is no order, because we're all in a different place. And you may be listening to this show in treatment, you may be listening to the show eight years out of treatment, six months out of treatment, one day out of treatment, and we're all in a different place. And because we're in a different place, there are different things that we need for our healing.

2:47
And so I want to talk about these 10 things that I've learned that have been very powerful for me. But I want you to know that you know, what always comes back to is what's meaningful to you. And I'm going to share these because in the hopes that it will resonate with you that there's something you need to hear in the experience that I've been through. And that can help you with whatever it is that you're working through at this time in your life and whatever area it is that will help you to heal them.

3:18
So before I get into these top 10 lessons that I've learned from living through and living with breast cancer, I want to share something very exciting.

3:27
I think it's very exciting because I want to share in the celebration of life with you. And I know, I'm not even going to say I think I know that the community, the coaching, and the information that's available for you inside the Revived membership will help and support you.

3:47
And so I want to share in my anniversary by opening enrollment in The Revived Membership, beginning Sunday, July 11.

3:56
And I'm actually for the whole day, 24 hours of July 11, you can join the revived membership experience and get your first month for only $10. And it's $10 because it's my 10th anniversary.

4:10
So it's my anniversary gift to you because I know that it will be a gift to yourself. And you can enroll in the revived membership simply by going to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/revived, and I promise you, it will change your life.

4:28
It will change the way you think it will change the way you treat yourself. It will relieve you of the suffering if you do the work that's in the membership. And I know this I'm going to share some of those insights with you now in this podcast and the things I've learned and from what I've learned and what I've been coached on and the areas I have developed. That's where everything that's in my memberships and my coaching comes from.

4:52
So that's something very exciting. Get ready, get on my email list. You can go get on that on my website or you can just simply go to my website on July 11, at 12:01 am pacific time. And for that 24 hours, you can get your first month of revived for only $10.

5:10
I've never done that before.

5:11
So I'm kind of excited, I hope that you're excited about it too. And I hope you take advantage of it, because I'm telling you, you will be glad that you did.

5:20
And the second thing I want to announce is because I am opening The Revived Membership, and through the end of this month, you'll be able to join Revive, but only for the $10 for the first month on the 11th. But I wanted to also throw in a workshop.

5:36
And so at the end of this month, beginning July 30th, we'll do it for three days, I am going to do an encore presentation of The Better Than Before Breast Cancer Workshop.

5:46
That was such an amazing workshop!

5:48
And it made such a huge difference in so many lives, I can't tell you all the positive feedback I got from that workshop in so I'm going to do it again. And if you went through it before, I highly encourage you to come back and do it again live.

6:01
You'll be able to go to the workshop completely free or there is an option where you can get some special bonuses and join The Revived Membership also as a part of doing this workshop, so choose what works for you.

6:13
But I highly recommend that you come because there's just so much to be learned from being coached, from watching others be coached from hearing the similar experiences that we as survivors go through, it truly is life-changing.

6:32
I hear this all the time, I feel it, I know it for myself.

6:36
So I invite you to come and you can enroll in The Better Than Before breast Cancer Workshop by going to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/btb, better than before.

6:48
Alright.

6:50
So now I am going to jump into this show.

6:53
And I want to talk to you about 10 very powerful lessons that I have learned in these 10 years of surviving my original diagnosis of cancer.

7:04
And it's interesting because people may think well, I mean, you're a survivor, but you have cancer now. And that's true, I do have cancer, and I am working on healing from cancer.

7:16
But I'm here, damn it, and I'm taking credit for being here.

7:19
I'm here 10 years after a diagnosis, I'm healing. I'm working on just supporting my body's ability to heal every day. And a lot of these lessons are what put me in that place, that when I received that diagnosis of stage 4 advanced metastatic disease. I didn't fall apart, you know, and it was because of the things that I've learned and all the coaching I've had and done and the women that I've been able to work with, and the amount that I've learned from that experience that really helped me to get to that place that when that diagnosis occurred.

7:57
It didn't destroy me.

7:58
You know, and it caused me to dig in even deeper, and look at my life and the beauty of my life. And all the lessons that I've learned to make sure that if this is my last year, or I have 10 years, or I have 20 years, or I have two weeks, that they're going to be the best damn time ever.

8:18
All right.

8:19
So that being said, I think I'm going to jump into this number one thing. Well, it's not number one, as I said, there's no order.

8:27
But from that experience, I think one of the most powerful lessons that I've learned is that we have the power to choose our thoughts.

8:36
And that I cannot overstate the importance and the magnitude of truly grasping the idea that you get to choose your thoughts, that everything that happens in life is just a circumstance.

8:53
And that includes breast cancer.

8:55
And you get to choose how you're going to think about it.

8:58
And when you make that choice of how you're going to think about it, that is going to determine how you feel about it. And that's going to result in the results you live within your life. And one of the biggest things that I've learned about it and worked through when it comes to choosing your thoughts is choosing to move away from fear.

9:22
Right, that emotion of fear, and what are the thoughts that bring up fear in your body?

9:28
Because you know, as well as I do that fear is huge after breast cancer is huge once you hear that diagnosis, and it's huge for what can be a very long time afterward.

9:39
And so I just want to offer one thing for you to consider as a replacement thought for when fear comes up. Because I have always found that this has helped me and this has helped a lot of women that I work with.

9:53
So when that fear of recurrence comes up, and I think the closer you are to a diagnosis and/or to ending active treatment, you know, they say active treatment, meaning you may stay on Herceptin for a year, you may stay on, you know, aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen or have Zometa all that for 5-10 years afterward. But I'm talking about the original need the surgery and the chemotherapy and the radiation and that very active treatment.

10:21
And I think that time definitely helps too, I don't know, smooth out the edges, so that that fear is and so raw, time definitely helps.

10:32
But also, when you can take a thought, and you can choose to think differently, you can choose to think in a way that helps you feel more in control of the situation, meaning that you have some power, then I also believe and I found for myself that that does help with the fear.

10:51
And some of the thoughts that I would offer would be the thought of: what can I do to support my healing?

10:59
And then being really honest with yourself and looking at your life, which we're moving into that as another lesson.

11:04
Being really honest with yourself is a number two lesson it's really honest with what are you doing?

11:12
Right? You get to choose your thought, you get to decide how you want to feel in this life. But you also have to be very honest with yourself, when you're looking at that, and you're asking:

11:20
What am I doing to support my health?

11:24
What am I doing to support my healing?

11:26
You know, am I moving my body for at least 30 minutes a day?

11:30
Am I making good food choices?

11:32
Am I reducing stress?

11:34
Am I reducing toxic relationships?

11:36
There are all these lists of things that we can do in our lives, that help us feel more empowered and more in control. And that and time helps to dull that intensity of the fear of recurrence. Because it gives you something for your brain to focus on rather than fear.

11:53
Right? If you're looking at toxic relationships, well, then you get to do a lot of work there.

11:59
And there's a lot in there that can help you with that work on yourself, and help you stay busy. You know, and once we stay busy, and I mean mentally and emotionally, in our mind, working on something that's constructive and productive, that definitely does help to move away from the fear.

12:15
So knowing that choosing your thoughts is a real thing. And you can do it. And sometimes it's challenging. It sounds very simple. And I know I've said this 100 times simple does not mean easy. This is definitely one of those things.

12:31
Choosing your thoughts is ongoing training. It's an ongoing process.

12:36
It's just like training the physical body to be strong, to be fit to be cardiovascularly fit to be, you know, to do resistance training, you don't just do that for a week or two weeks, and then stop and get to maintain the benefits in the same with your mind, your emotions, your mental well being. It has to get constant attention, we have to constantly come back to the mind and say what's happening here mind, what are you thinking? What do I want to think instead? How are these thoughts impacting my life?

13:08
And then how can I make a consistent effort to change them. And then more and more, you'll find that the thoughts are the ones that are benefiting and supporting you, rather than the ones that are scaring the shit out of you.

13:21
And I love I think I've shared this before a quote that I heard a long time ago from Oprah Winfrey that says, "You're either moving towards fear, or you're moving towards love with every choice you make."

13:34
And I think that is so frigging powerful.

13:38
Sit with that thought, and know that you get to choose. And the choice you make of how you're going to think is going to determine whether you're going to feel more fear, or you're going to feel more love.

13:51
All right.

13:52
So choosing your thoughts.

13:55
And another powerful thing is really don't get caught up in the problem.

14:01
This is a really interesting lesson that I learned. Because when I was first recovering, and I think I've shared this in the past, but hey, this is a 10 year anniversary one. So I may repeat some things you've heard in previous podcasts. You know, I was so focused on getting back to who I was being as fit as I was, being as lean as what I was, looking at same, getting my hair back.

14:24
All the things to go back to the way I used to be that I was just obsessing on the problem itself.

14:34
And I know that this is a really common thing. We get so caught up in I'm in pain, my joints hurt, I'm tired. I'm in menopause, I'm hot flashing, I'm gaining weight that we get kind of stuck in the weeds. And what is actually happening there is we're just stuck in the problem itself.

14:53
I read a Facebook post some time ago, several weeks ago from a woman who had posted something about how negative she is all the time because of all the things she suffers from due to her breast cancer treatment, and how even her family has made up names for her, because of how negative she is.

15:10
And I thought, you know, that breaks my heart first of all, but that's the perfect example of being stuck in the problem. Right?

15:20
We have to move back. And again, I think it goes back to this first lesson, I'm getting to choose your thoughts, is we get to look at am I moving towards love? Am I moving towards fear? Am I in fear and stuck in the pain, and the muck, and the ugliness? Or am I looking for a solution? Can I recognize these things are true and these things are factual, but what can I do to solve for them?

15:48
And so sometimes that can, you can get stuck there, you can think you're working on solving when you really stuck in the problem. And I think that the way for me, that's the most that is the easiest way to tell the difference is how you feel intuitively, you know if you are miserable, and if you use that word, I feel stuck, then you're on you're in the problem. And on the solution. If you're looking for the solution, I think you feel more of a sense of hope, and empowerment, and I don't know just kind of getting some strength back, you know.

16:25
So, number two lesson, don't get caught in the problem.

16:30
All the ugliness that can take over the goodness. And step back and look for where your power is to choose your thoughts. Move towards love for yourself, and take some control of what you're doing to serve and support your healing and your health.

16:47
All right, I think a big one, so I'm going to throw this in there now. Because what you need to support everything I just talked about, and everything I'm going to talk about is self compassion.

16:59
So treat yourself with gentleness.

17:02
I can not explain how important this is. Treating yourself with gentleness, giving yourself a break, being with yourself now as you are now.

17:15
You know, I posted well, you may or may not follow me on Facebook, but on Facebook and Instagram, I put a post up today because I was out walking on the beach and I was picking up shells as I do most days. And I just noticed, you know, some of my shells are broken and have holes and they inspire curiosity in me. And I think what happened to this shell, you know, what was the shell's life like? Where did it start? How did it form? What creature lived in this shell? How did you get to become here with nothing living inside of it now, what changed?

17:47
And I realized that that show was really a metaphor, very much a metaphor for what I've been through and for what we go through in breast cancer.

17:57
We may start off with what we call perfect, young, and beautiful, and perfect skin and perfect body and perfect hair and all those things.

18:06
But that's not life.

18:08
Now, it has nothing to do with life, you know, being physical. I mean, it has something to do. Obviously, our appearance has something to do with life. But when we're looking at our experience of life, it's like being perfect isn't the answer, understanding our imperfections, and just being connected enough to ourselves, to be able to see those imperfections, as a part of life and an opportunity to learn from life. You know, treating yourself with kindness and compassion.

18:41
And I guess this goes hand in hand with it.

18:43
But I would say another lesson which would be number four is nonjudgment.

18:47
And I think nonjudgment is a huge component of self compassion.

18:52
We've got to stop judging ourselves.

18:55
You know. And even when and here's you some big things right, we get a potbelly for menopause, you get stringy hair from aromatase inhibitors, your skin changes from menopause, all kinds of stuff happens, right?

19:08
And we judge that, but you can't undo it. Right?

19:13
We've made choices. We are here where we're at alive, thank God, and we can't judge ourselves. We can recognize those changes. We can even say I really don't like this change. I really wish this hadn't changed. I mean, I say that you know, I think of the price I would pay for a flat belly again. Hmm, that'd be a pretty steep price I would pay.

19:35
But I don't have a perfectly flat belly anymore.

19:39
And although I do everything I can to support my body and staying fit and staying at a healthy weight. I don't judge it anymore and beat myself up for not looking the way I did when I was 25 or even 35, you know?

19:54
So, nonjudgment, telling yourself who I need a nap. I'm freaking tired, I am fatigued. And then giving yourself permission saying yes, yes, this is what I need to support my healing right now. And I'm taking a nap.

20:10
And I'm not gonna judge myself and say: you're so lazy, you're so nonproductive... Other people are doing stuff and look at you just laying there...

20:18
You know you got to drop the judgment.

20:21
It's so important and treat ourselves with gentleness, we have to look at what our body is telling us we need, what our soul is telling us we need. And we have to just look at that and say, this is just is, it isn't good or bad it's just what you need right now.

20:44
And so moving on to number five, which ties right into that would be stop fighting.

 

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