Published on January 12, 2017
Every week for the last few years, I’ve been commuting from my home in the country with my husband to my job in the city. I wake up at 4:30 AM on Monday and try to get out of the house by 5 AM, so I can try to beat traffic. It SHOULD only take me 1-1/2 hours, but it has taken me up to 3 hours to go the 70 miles. Frustrating! Instead of focusing on the time or the traffic, I try to see it as an opportunity to listen and learn something new by downloading books on Audible. The books range in topic from humor, self-help, inspirational, business-oriented, to fiction. This last book was super inspiring and sort of reminded me of my own journey of tackling an obstacle in the road. The book: "On My Own Two Feet" by Amy Purdy.
If you haven’t heard of Amy Purdy, the gist is she lost her legs (below the knee) from bacterial meningitis when she was 19. She was an avid snowboarder and massage therapist, and most of all she was loving life when she encountered this detour. While she was healing and navigating her “new normal,” she stayed determined not to let this get in the way of what she truly loved. Sure, she hit some bumps in the road, but she overcame them by seeing them as opportunities. Today, she’s a successful inspirational speaker, Olympic medalist in snowboarding, and so much more. This book was awesome, but surprisingly it spurred some emotions of my own parallels with her losing her legs to me losing my breasts.
We can’t change it; we have to decide how we’ll respond to it. – Randy Pausch
Even after six years, I’m still amazed at how little things (like a book) can transport me back to that moment in time of getting diagnosed and going through treatment for breast cancer. I want to forget it, but it’s hard. Sometimes, I think maybe we’re not meant to forget these times where we’ve transformed into something else…a new normal. As cancer patients, this is a new way of living, a new way of thinking, and accepting it all to keep on moving and doing what we love.
As Amy talks in her book about the scars she has, she’s learned to love them as a reminder of what she went through. There is a part in the book where she describes lying in bed, looking at every inch in her body in the mirror and realizing that she was still whole. From that moment, instead of trying to cover her scars, she tries to show them off. In some ways, I can relate to this scenario. After my mastectomy, I didn’t look in the mirror for 3 months. 3 months! I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t imagine myself without breasts. But when I finally did look in the mirror, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be in my head. Today, with the help of reconstruction and some fancy 3D tattoos, I’m more comfortable with my scars. I don’t go around showing everyone my scars like Amy, but I’ve learned to accept them in the moments when they are exposed (like at the gym).
What you love is a sign from your higher self on what you are to do - Sanaya Roman
I think that when we’re going through something tough, if we can keep doing the thing we love, even for just a bit, it helps us get to the finish line. Running did that for me. I ran through my treatment which allowed me to not only focus on something positive in my life, it ended up helping with a lot of side effects from chemo. Running has been one of my passions for the last several years and is my go-to when I find myself stuck in the downward spiral of what happened in the past. It allows me to have time to reflect and figure out my next steps (no pun intended). Even today, when I’m feeling overly anxious because of something that triggered an emotion of cancer, I go for a run. It helps me balance and organize my thoughts and get back to my new normal.
At the end of the book, Amy mentions that losing her legs didn’t limit her from what she was meant to do; it was an obstacle that she could push off from. Interesting and good reminder that losing my hair, my breasts, and my ovaries from cancer didn’t limit me from being any less of a woman. My hair grew back, I had reconstruction to replace my breasts, and I’ve learned to deal with being post-menopausal before any of my friends and how it affects my relationship. Going through cancer wasn’t a gift, but it was an opportunity for me to push off from that obstacle to find my true passion and to help others.
At the starting line, running through life one race at a time,
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