Survivor & Caregiver

Love Notes: turning anger into gratitude

By The Edith Sanford team

February 24, 2014

Fear, anger, laughter, gratitude … Cathy from Long Beach, Calif., shares the ups and downs of her journey in this Love Note.

“I received the diagnosis of breast cancer on July 18, 2009.

Up until that date, I had never been afraid of anything or anyone in my entire lifetime.

At age 65, I knew what fear was and it consumed my being!

I began to research and the more I did, I realized that I would be faced with terrible choices. I chose a double mastectomy.

I was praying that I would only need the surgery but unfortunately, I also needed chemotherapy. I actually was not going to have the chemo. My children talked me into it.

I resigned myself to my fate and moved forward. I had a very virulent form of cancer. It was HER2 positive. I won’t downplay this: chemo was very difficult, but not impossible.

I lost all my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. I think the funniest thing that happened was that while on chemo, I was washing my face one morning and as I did, I looked at the wash rag and noticed that my eyebrow was there in the washrag! I looked up to my face and saw that I now had only one eyebrow. I was so angry and hurt. So, the next day, I used the wash rag again and washed off the other one. Then I was laughing like crazy!

It is hard to describe how some of these things that happen to you during chemo end up being fodder for comedy.

I believe the most helpful thing I did was to join other women on the internet, as we journeyed this hard road together! I also had a chemo buddy, who had been through it all, and she was a tremendous help to me.

I was very angry in the beginning! That motivated me to find the best hospitals and doctors that I could for my treatment. I am the kind of person that rarely cries and when I get angry, I get going!

I would tell anyone that the best thing you can do is to make sure you are informed correctly.

I am coming up on five years, on July 18, 2014. I am so very grateful that I am in recovery and cancer-free.

What I want to say to any woman who finds herself facing this life-changing diagnosis, is to get informed, do your research, be careful where you go for information and definitely reach out to all your friends and family, as well as other women who are breast cancer survivors. Keep strong in your faith and be a warrior! You can do it! I can truthfully say that this scary trip I took has made me even stronger than I was before.

Good luck and all my prayers to all you sister warriors out there! There is life after breast cancer! God bless you all!”

During your journey, were there moments, like with Cathy and her eyebrows, where there was nothing else to do but laugh? What motivated you to keep fighting?

Share your insight and advice in a Love Note.