Learning To Say Yes

Dedication: Dedicated to all the brave women who are going through a breast cancer experience.

There have been many moments in my life when I realized my inner strength because of the emotional struggles I’ve dealt with, but the one that has most recently had the biggest impact on my life was when I was diagnosed in 2010 with breast cancer. Until the day I found a lump in my left breast, on January 19, 2010, I was always very healthy and never questioned my own mortality.

Being faced with breast cancer had a deeply profound impact on my life. There were many lessons I learned about living in the moment and seeing the beauty and joy in the simple moments of each day. It surprised me how much joy I found in the middle of all the fear I faced during my breast cancer journey. I found wells of strength that I wasn’t aware I possessed and I was proud of how I faced the treatments and the surgeries with dignity and grace.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that I couldn’t “do cancer” on my own; that I needed to let my friends and family help me get through this experience. I have often said that it takes a village to get a woman through a breast cancer experience and I believe that this was one of my most important lessons.

I learned to simply say Yes, when someone would ask me if I wanted them to come with me to a doctor’s visit. I learned to say Yes when my amazing network of friends asked if I wanted them to come over with dinners and meals for my family during the times that I couldn’t stand to cook because of how nauseous I felt during chemo, or after my mastectomy when I was feeling so physically and emotionally weak.

I learned to say Yes when my hospital breast cancer coordinator asked me if I wanted her to help me switch oncologists when I didn’t click with the first oncologist assigned to my case. She helped me switch and I have never regretted it as I still see my new oncologist twice a year, and will for another 4 years, so the change made a huge difference in my life.

In the 6 years since my diagnosis, I’ve learned to continue to say yes to others when I find I need support in other aspects of my life. I no longer hesitate to ask for help, as I now understand that showing vulnerability and asking for help actually takes more courage than trying to do it all on your own.

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Claudia Schmidt

Claudia Schmidt, a working mom with two cool and snarky teens, writes about life after her breast cancer experience in 2010. You can visit her blog at http://www.myleftbreast.net