This episode dives into our complex emotional journey after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Healing and navigating life aren’t linear processes. While having a positive outlook is essential, it's equally important to be realistic and accept the truth, however uncomfortable it might be.
The truth of cancer is that it’s a mix of good scans, challenging outcomes, and the back-and-forth of emotions. And guess what? It’s okay to feel! It’s human.
We also touched on how changes in our body after treatment can sometimes make us nostalgic for things we used to love. But it’s essential to remember we can grieve these losses without discounting our present joys. Lastly, external remarks like "at least you’re alive" might come our way, but always know your feelings are valid.
Here’s a gentle reminder that you’re never alone in this. Let’s keep lifting each other up and finding strength in shared experiences.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 00:00
You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started.
Laura Lummer 00:32
Hello, friends, welcome to episode 268 of the better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. And thank you so much for being here for checking in on the show. And for your support of the podcast. I know I asked this a lot, because I know this happens to me a lot. I'll hear some podcasts that I really love. And I really want to support I think, Oh, I'm gonna leave a rating for them. And then I'm doing something or I'm driving when I'm listening to it. And I forget to get back to it. So if you enjoy this podcast, and you're a regular listener, and you think it might help another person out there who needs to hear the information on the show, I would love it if you could take a few moments to leave a rating or review. It means everything and it really does make it easier for other people to find the show who may be searching for exactly what they can find here. Alright, so thank you in advance for putting that extra energy out. I know everything takes time and I do appreciate your time. All right before I get too far into the show today, I want to ask a special favor of you and I want to dedicate this show to a friend of mine. Her name is Janelle Linares. And Janelle And I did podcast episode number 25. Way back in the beginning of this podcast we did together and it was a show on young survivors. Janelle was 33 years old when she was originally diagnosed with breast cancer. And she is an amazing woman. I'll put a link to that podcast below so that you can go and listen to it, especially if you're a young survivor, or someone going through breast cancer with young children and trying to wrap your head around what kind of support you need and how you take care of yourself in that situation. I will give you forewarning that that was early early days of the podcast and I had not yet figured out audio so the audio quality is not amazing. But what's in the show is worth the listen. Okay. I want to dedicate the show to Janelle today because she's going through a hard time and I feel comfortable talking about that because she's very public about sharing her journey and sharing it on Facebook. And she's very public about supporting others. She has been a mentor with me through women guiding women, which is a support group for breast and gynecological cancer survivors for newly diagnosed people. She and I have been mentors there for some time. And we were actually diagnosed in the same year became mentors right around the same time. And right now Janelle is dealing with the spread of metastatic disease that she's been managing for many years. And that has now spread to her brain. She is in recovery right now from a surgery that was very successful to remove this mass from her brain. And I'm a big believer in the energy of all of us being connected, of sending love of sending prayers of sending whatever that is in you that energy that you give to others as a method of support and caring. And however you translate that or whatever you call that. If you could send some of that to Janelle generis today, or for the next few days, as you think about it, I know it'd be greatly appreciated. And to her and her family for whatever strength and whatever energy and whatever positivity that they may need, whatever love they may need to get through this situation. Now. I just ask that we all send a little bit her way. I know that it can be a little frightening when you hear things like that I thought about whether or not do I want to talk about this on the podcast. But you know, I'm not here to bullshit anybody. And we're all in this experience together. And this experience is not fun, and it's not linear. And it presents a tremendous amount of challenges. But it also presents a lot of opportunities for only not only our personal growth, but our ability to give love and to support others, those other women like us that we can connect with, and that there are times when we learn from that to receive that support and that love for ourselves. In a way think about it. When I first heard about what was going on with Janelle a few days ago, I had just received some really good news. I changed my chemotherapy regimen back in June. And I received labs that showed that my tumor markers had dropped by more than half in just this last month and I I don't share that right now to say like, Oh, don't think about the sadness that's going through, don't think about something positive. I share that, again, for a couple of reasons, to help us really accept this fact that when we're going through cancer, when we're dealing with cancer, when cancer has become a part of our lives, it's always there, right. And there's ups and there's downs, and we move forward, and we move backwards. And I fully realize that in my next blood test another month from now, that can be different, and they could go back up, healing is rarely a linear thing. And there are so many things we can do that do affect it, and do have an impact on it. And so we do go forward. And we do go back. And I think part of this whole experience, part of going through breast cancer in whatever way you want to call it a journey and experience a nightmare. I don't care what you want to call it, whatever it is, it really is just a straight shot forward. And I do think it's important to talk about that. Because if we want to tell ourselves, it's a straight shot forward, and we do this, and we have a plan and we implement the plan, and bam, it's done. Then we set ourselves up for frustration and disappointment. Now, I am not saying not to think positive or have a good attitude. If you listen to the show, if you have heard me talk, you know that I'm 100% believer in having a positive future focused attitude. But I'm also a proponent of being realistic, of accepting facts of accepting truth, and absorbing those truths. And those facts even when we don't like them, even when they're not comfortable. You know, so many women struggle with the fear of a breast cancer recurrence, or do things in their lives because they say, I'm going to do this so I don't get cancer. Again, when that isn't something we can control, we can control because there is no guarantee there is no 100% guarantee. And I think that when we can embrace that, then we can stop fighting it. We can embrace it and say I do what I do in my life, because this is the way I want to feel. This is the way I want to treat myself. I sure as hell Hope that helps to give me a better outcome or a hope that it lends to not having a recurrence, that would be amazing. But we can't be attached to that as much as we want to be in the process of living a joyful life, and treating and treating ourselves in a way that feels good. I think that when we get so far ahead, and we say something like no matter what I do, it doesn't affect my chances of whether or not I get a recurrence, then our brain goes right to Yeah, it doesn't. So just eating dogs, right. But when we have a poor diet that definitely impacts and increases our risk of recurrence. So our mind and the way we think about things is so damn tricky. And I think that if we can really look at circumstances and say this is the truth of life, it's up and it's down, and it's back and it's forth. And that involves cancer and good scans and poor scans and questionable outcomes and good outcomes. And we have to learn to be resilient, and to be intentional about what we want to think and do in the day to support ourselves. Because we don't want to create more frustration and more suffering for ourselves. So when we ask ourselves and when we embrace and admit and don't run and hide and say that's scary. I don't want to hear it. I want to talk about it. But when you say yeah, you know what? The truth is, people get breast cancer. People get breast cancer recurrences, people get great scans, people get scary scans. And it's always a back and forth. How do I prepare my mind? How do I support myself emotionally and mentally, so that when the back and forth of life, the ups and downs of life, the peaks and valleys of life come? They're not as dramatic, that we can make choices that are very intentional about the way we support ourselves, the way we think about things, the way we reach out for support when it's difficult to think in a way that helps us to feel the way we want to feel and enjoy our life. The more real and transparent we can be with ourselves in these situations. I believe because I've seen and I've witnessed and experienced for myself, the less dramatic those ups and downs and backs and fourths less intense and horrific and full of suffering they can be we can even them out a little more doesn't mean that it won't be difficult sometimes doesn't mean that there won't be emotion so God forbid we should have emotions. We're friggin emotional people. Okay, that I think that talking about this on today's show Show as I considered it was important. Because I know some of you out there are struggling with this. Some of you, like me are living with metastatic disease, and working towards healing or working towards that no evidence of disease and managing your life around, how do I live my life and think forward and have cancer in my body. Some of you have recurrences, some of you are just going through this for the first time, some of you are years out and doing great and fantastic. And yet a scan comes up, and you still get really nervous sometimes. So this is very real, and it's real for all of us. And I just want to share that, you know, sometimes we borrow hope from each other. But we're never alone. You're never alone in what you're going through. Nobody just has a straight shot through this. And it all goes well. And all went smoothly. And it all went according to plan. And then by him, it's all done. At least no one I've ever met me, if you are out there, I'd love to hear from you. All right. So I just want to share that and hope that we can all find that balance and just also find that place in our heart where we give love and support to ourselves and send that love out to somebody who needs it. Okay. And in keeping with all this so what I actually wanted to talk about on this podcast, was inspired by something that happened the other day to me. So I was watching this show with my husband. It is the morning show. I'm not sure what channel it's on because he does all the TV stuff. But it's the morning show with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, I think it might be Apple TV. Anyway, if you haven't watched that show, I highly recommend it. I loved it. But in the show, the character being played by Jennifer Aniston is having a really hard time in her life. And she's on a treadmill. And she's running her ass off. Like she's working out so hard. She's sweating, and she's running. And I'm watching the show. And I said to my husband, Man, I miss that miss being able to run like that, because I used to love to run. Running was just such a great outlet for me. And I've always found that exercise is an amazing emotional outlet for me personally, that whether it was anger or frustration or sadness or whatever, that the more I move and when I exercise that just helps support me emotionally so much. And it is fun. For me. I've always thought exercise was fun and challenging my body to be better and stronger physically was something that I really enjoyed. I did triathlons like not Ironman or anything, just fun mud runs and triathlons and zombie runs. I love stuff like that. I thought it was so fun. And I just loved being in a body that could do those things. That was such a great experience for me. So I'm watching the show. And I haven't been able to run since I went through IV chemotherapy, the damage that it did to my knee joints. And I already had some arthritis in my knee joints. And I'm sure many of you listening to this can identify with that it changes the body what we go through in breast cancer treatment. And so my body changed and I couldn't run. And so I walked and I learned how to do different exercise. But from time to time, I miss running. And then when I got to stage four diagnosis, and I have disease in my hips and my femurs running out of the question, any kind of impact on my hips is out of the question, which is fine. I find many, many other ways to exercise that I enjoy. But I still sometimes miss running, just like I miss being able to eat whatever the hell I wanted when I was 25 years old and never gain an ounce. I mean, you know, things change, bodies change. And sometimes we look back at stuff and say, dang, that was nice when that happened, right? But I'm watching the show. And I'm thinking, I used to love to run. And I say out loud, Man, I miss running. And my husband sitting next to him and he looks at me, he goes, Yeah, but at least you're alive. And I stopped for a second. And I thought, yeah, what the hell does that have to do with missing running? Right? And I wanted to talk about that on the show. And I said to him, yeah, I'm alive, honey, and I'm so glad to be alive and grateful for it every day. But that doesn't mean I can't miss something that I used to love to do. It's not like I'm spiraling into a depression or something or woe is me, poor me, I can't run anymore. I'm just remembering how much I liked it. And that there's an absence in my life. And want to talk about that, because I think that many of you are experiencing that. It may not be for running. It may be from anything having to do with the change that has occurred in your body in your life as a result of going through breast cancer. And why I think it's important to talk about is because we experienced that kind of reaction from people, right as survivors. If we say something like, Oh, I miss that or Oh, that used to be so great. It is not uncommon for people to respond to us with well i I mean, at least you're still here. Well, at least you're still alive. Right. And I think that when we hear that sometimes we kind of feel guilty. And we shame ourselves. And we think I shouldn't feel like that. It's not okay that I feel like that because I should just be grateful to be here. And I just want to say that you have permission to feel whatever it is that you feel. And there's nothing wrong with missing a change was grieving, something that you lost that was meaningful to you, whether it's your breasts, your ability to run a different perspective on life, whatever it is, because and I say, a different perspective, because I'll often talk with women who say, I miss just the innocence and thinking nothing bad could happen to me. It's okay to miss that. And I want to give you permission, to give yourself permission to be okay with those things, to be okay with those parts of this experience of this breast cancer journey that come up, that change things in a way that you grieve, for. We are emotional creatures, as I've said, I don't know how many times already this show. And for us to allow ourselves to have that emotion and to notice that if I'm feeling it, then it's okay to feel it. Because it's just true. And it's real for me. And I feel it. And I want to acknowledge it, and I want to recognize it. And it doesn't need to be minimized. And it doesn't mean that I don't love life today, or I don't love what my body is able to still do now. It's just a very simple, grieving acknowledgement. Reminiscence, I miss my flat tummy from when I was 17 years old, I miss being able to stay up all night long and get up the next day and have endless energy like a frickin Energizer Bunny, right? I miss being able to take in more calories than possible and not going to my but I don't know how that happened, where that shifted, you know, I miss not having aches and pains and things that come from aging. But I also love a lot of things about the life that I live today. And all of it is okay. So know that as a survivor. In all these things, we go through the anxiety that comes out from scans, the worry about getting cancer, again, the fear that comes up when we hear about someone else getting diagnosed, or someone else getting a recurrence or someone else having something that we think of as going backward, right, something else happening to them cancer advancing something like that. All those things are okay. And it is okay to allow yourself to feel them, to talk about them, to acknowledge them. And that under no circumstances do you need to be ashamed of that. Or hide that or feel as if you're ungrateful. I think sometimes we just need to know that this happens to more than just us so that we feel, I don't know, safe in expressing that maybe it's safe in saying someone who says well, you're still alive. Okay. And being able to say, Yes, I am. That has nothing to do with the fact that I still miss something. Right? Yes, I'm okay. Her story is not my story. And I'm okay today. But it doesn't mean that I don't feel a sadness, and that I don't relate and have an empathy for this very experienced that this person is going through whether it's a new diagnosis or an advanced diagnosis, that there isn't that empathy and in truth, the fear that comes up for us, right? Because oftentimes, like I just shared with you about my friend, Janelle, I have great sadness for her right now. Because I know her, you don't know her. And you may not feel sad, specifically for her, right? But just in the overall someone going through this experience as a human being, and then you'll also feel fear for yourself. You also think, oh shit, what if that happens to me? And that is normal. And that is okay. And it's okay to allow ourselves to feel it. It's okay to not acknowledge that thought comes up. But then we get to step in and decide, do we want to keep investing energy into thinking that thought? Do we want to continue to put energy into thinking that might happen to me, that's not how I want to go. That's not what I want to experience when it's not a part of our story. Right? So that's where the balance needs to come in. When we're managing ourselves as we go through this chronic experience of managing cancer because it really is chronic. Whether you have cancer in your body now or not. You manage it forever once you have had it with scans with blood work with follow up appointments, and with thoughts and memories of the trauma that you went through. All of it is okay. I just felt in my heart like that message was such An important one to talk about today. And I hope that you can continue to show up for yourself in a way that supports you and your needs. Whenever you come across these setbacks or speed bumps or anything that comes up with you, as you're going through the management of breast cancer, asking yourself all the time, okay, what do I need to support myself now? Noticing your feelings, allowing your feelings to be there and giving yourself the support that you need? No matter what it is, if you need help with that friend, you know, you can find me. My website is the breast cancer recovery coach.com You can work with me and my life coaching membership, no better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, you can DM me you can find me as the breast cancer recovery coach on Facebook and Instagram. And I love hearing your questions and getting your feedback. All right, take care of yourselves. Be good to yourselves send yourself love and support every day all day. Take care I'll talk to you soon.