GUEST POST BY JAN BIANCHI
I can honestly say the combination of support groups, therapy and my love of writing is what help me to navigate my journey after diagnosis. I can’t shortchange the emphasis of close friends and my mother. Writing was and has been a great filter but then I like to journal and digress. Not everyone likes to digress and go within to see the murals on the interior walls of their being. As a poet it is an essential part of my being. The murals within can be daunting, unfamiliar to someone new who hasn’t been exposed to their inner being on a regular basis. Writing can be cathartic like hot steam needing release. It is the vehicle for the inner voice to have a place on the outside rather than in the warehouse of one’s being. Journaling my feelings became a poetic quest as I documented my journey. That documentation led me to create later, My Journey with Breast Cancer, Measures of Hope.
I was forty-one when I was diagnosed. And I can confess what matters to me now at fifty-one is different than what I felt vanity wise at forty-one. I would have made different choices regarding my breast reconstruction. (That is another story for another time.) I was diagnosed with DCIS. Since it was in various areas in my right breast I was told they could not do a lumpectomy. I would undergo a mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction.
The journey of breast cancer is a process of unfamiliar decisions that become educated decisions, startling facts, heart rendering calculations, and unfathomable testing of the human spirit. The journey is one of declaring that the Self shall shine forth and bare the badge of Honor, Courage and Hope. Support groups I found very resourceful for having the gift to listen to other’s process and treatments. Their stories allowed me to become more familiar with my own in the early stages after diagnosis. If you have one loyal friend you can count on and trust unconditionally, then I would assign that person to being your wingman. Having two sets of ears and eyes during doctor’s visits, treatment protocols (if mandated) will make a huge difference. For the individual diagnosed, a certain numbing process goes on for a period of time. There will be things one will miss and perhaps not hear as clearly as the person beside you. That person has the ability to be the X factor in asking the necessary questions when you may not feel up to it. That person will also become a valuable resource to anchor the unknown as you go. If there isn’t someone you feel close enough to ask, reach out to someone in a neighboring support group to help you. People really are willing to help if invited!
So moving forward through the maze of any forms of cancer is uncharted territory. Moving forward from life events that catapult one from one extreme to another is life altering. It is like sifting for gold in the old westerns trying to discover gold verses pyrite. To distinguish the outcome will vary for each of us. Anywhere someone can find a quiet setting like a garden creates calm around you. It is in that space creativity can be born to uplift the soul that is burdened. Here is where healing can be found whether in silence, discussion with another or journaling with one’s thoughts.
Jan Bianchi was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago at the age of forty-one. She underwent a mastectomy to her right breast and had the tramflap for reconstruction*. A writer of Inspirational Books, Jan has written five books, including one on her breast cancer experience titled, Measures of Hope, My Journey with Breast Cancer.