Have you just received a diagnosis of breast cancer? I know first-hand how scary that can be. When I received the diagnosis I panicked, kept it to myself for weeks and whooped myself into a frenzy of anxiety. There is a better way and it is my hope to help you have more ease and presence to decide how you wish to handle your diagnosis.
Being present helps to shift out of the fear and into the energy of choice. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was devastating and I let my fear run the show. I encourage you to consider these steps to feel empowered from the moment of diagnosis onwards.
- Begin by putting your hand on your heart centre, close your eyes and breathe. When in shock or upset our body often reacts by holding our breath. PAUSE now and take 3-4 slow deep breaths, in and out. Pause and take some slow deep breaths, as deep as you can without forcing it in and out. Begin right here in this moment to be kind and gentle with yourself, even if just for a moment. These moments accumulate and will support you in the days ahead. Put your hand on your heart centre and focus on your breath. You may also use the words, “I am here now.” Repeat this statement a few times. It will slow down your thoughts, bring you into the present moment and out of the fear place which is usually 100 miles ahead of where you are now.
Anxiety is sure to follow a cancer diagnosis. In a study 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer had PTSD symptoms between the time of their diagnosis and the beginning of their treatment. It’s a shocking and frightening experience and your feelings are real. The empowerment lies in taking care of your emotions to acknowledge them and give yourself time to digest it all. The breath, putting your hand on your heart and focusing on this moment will bring you out of anxiety and into the moment.
- Tapping on your body helps to relieve stress. I suggest tapping up and down the centre of your chest saying, “This is really scary” to release the fear coming up. Try it for a minute and check in with your body to see how it has shifted. The fear and anxiety will lessen and I have no doubt the SUPER CHARGE of the fear associated with a cancer diagnosis is significantly reduced. Repeat as necessary. Give your body time to let it go.
- Once you have taken time to breathe, tap on your fear, sit quietly to decide the person you want to share your diagnosis with. The answer may come quickly or you may need to sit with it for a bit. Everyone is different on who they want to tell and when.
Before you tell someone close to you and ask for their support take a moment to get realistic on what you need right now from them. Many people do not know what to do for their friend or family. I needed someone to say, “I am with you all the way and I am here for you. Do not panic let’s get the information you need. I love you.” And then I needed them to help me make phone calls to get some questions answered. I did not ask for that at the time and it would have made a huge difference to me and my supporters if I had done so.
I want to point out a few other important notes to consider.
- Most people do not know what to say when you share you have cancer.
- If you have not been through a cancer diagnosis it can be difficult to know the right thing to say. Or if they have been through it, they may be triggered and flounder.
- Sometimes the support person needs their own time to digest the news. Keep the doors of communication open.
- When you share your diagnosis with that special person listen to their reaction and offer your thoughts.
- Let your support know what is important to you. I had little room for people who felt sorry for me. It was important to me that my supporters stood tall with me. I shared that often with those around me.
- Depending on where you are emotionally, when you share the news with someone close to you, will affect how you receive their response. Let it wash through you and consider how you feel. Discuss it with your loved one so communication is clear.
- If for some reason they say something that feels like being let down then reach out to another friend or family member.
I am pleased to offer programs to other women diagnosed with breast cancer to provide a safe place to face breast cancer, treatment and recovery. I hold space for you to feel loved and supported through your journey.
Check out: Breast cancer support system
I am holding you in my circle of love and healing.
Please reach out if you would like further information and support.
In my book, Millions of Knots; Discovering My Light Through Cancer I share the whole story of how I reacted to my diagnosis and all that I learned to get the support I needed.