The Greatest Gift; My Cancer Survivor Story..... by Susan G
I am an Exercise Physiologist and a Dragon Boat Team Coach, but my greatest accomplishment of all, that I am most proud of, is being a Breast Cancer Survivor. I was diagnosed at the end of 2012 in December with Ductal Carcinoma Insitu, Thank God at that time I didn't know that I was stage 3a, that came at the end of treatment……...after 17 months !
During my time of treatment, I struggled with trying to continue to work with the fatigue from chemo and radiation. I found what worked best for me was to do whatever I could, whenever I could…..and nap anywhere, anytime, even if it was for just 5 minutes, you see…... everything counted. No matter how small, everything made a difference in the moment and in the outcome. …..which was surviving.
My biggest strength was keeping a positive attitude and never giving up, never saying NO, never saying, I CAN'T. It's been a long road, but a truly amazing journey into myself, someone who I never really knew before. But when you are in pain, tired, alone and BALD, you really get to know yourself!
This was the greatest gift of all. I learned to respect myself, that I matter in this world, and that I can make a difference not only in my life but also in other people's lives.
When I was sick and struggling, I tried my best to save face in front of my parents and family. I told them all that I was okay and not to worry. Reassuring them, actually reassured me that I WAS going to be okay.
I took advantage of many supportive opportunities for people with cancer, like free Yoga with other cancer survivors or people going through treatment. I also joined a few support groups but one of the best things I did was join the Dragon Rays of Springfield, a Dragon Boat team for breast cancer survivors, sponsored by Rays of Hope, in Springfield.
It was here that I found my place after treatment. This group gave me the confidence to continue to be an athlete. Dragon Boating was something that I could physically do and get into shape after the long months of wear and tear on my body from chemo, radiation and surgeries….5 surgeries ...did I mention them? Little did I know at the time that in 3 years I would be the Dragon Boat Team Coach and Manager!
What I learned most through my journey was to do what you need to, to get through the day or the moment. Make small changes and most of all live in the moment as much as possible. Believe it or not, I actually had fun at some of my chemo treatments! It was there that I spent quality time with my Mom. I would make our favorite sandwiches for lunch, (we were there 5.5 hours) and oh how we loved the Chocolate Kozy Shack Pudding that they offered to us for dessert every lunch time. We still talk about that!
It hasn’t been easy since treatment stopped, because going back to a normal life or the life I had before was not possible. I was different, my abilities changed somewhat and I found that I had to reinvent myself. I won a scholarship and was able to go back to school and graduate with my Master’s Degree. Something I had always wanted to do and I thought, “What am I waiting for”?
I hope my short story…. because it's really a long story….can make a difference or inspire someone out there who is struggling with this thing we call LIFE and its challenges, whatever they may be. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.