When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful
The title of this blog, “When the seemingly fearless become fearful”, was etched out of a discussion I had with a fellow cancer survivor. Stephie is a childhood cancer survivor and donor heart recipient, but most importantly, a dear friend. We became friends through social media and the patient advocacy work we do. Our phone chat earlier this week centered around my fear. This was my week to have blood work for tumor markers. I am still on a four-month protocol cycle for these since my second breast cancer diagnosis in 2014. I am grateful they have all been within the normal range since my second diagnosis. However, these events do not pass without triggering my PTSD about recurrence.
Stephie is such a great listener and encouraged me that this week’s blog should be about “when the seemingly fearless become fearful.
Breast Friends on the Journey
I was with this wonderful group of ladies just last week. They are all breast cancer survivors and Journey members from the Facebook group I administer. There will be another separate blog with just the events and stories that unfolded that evening as we met each other for the first time. However, even that evening, one of them referred to me as their “Fearless Leader”.
Keep Your Sword Drawn Fearless Leader!
I was flattered, to say the least, but under that fearless armor, comes real fear. I have always stated I try to keep my “sword drawn” in the face of this second diagnosis. Keep the eye of the tiger, chin up, with courage and vigor. Each woman and man who has faced breast cancer knows all too well what that fear is. Fear of scan results; fear of an unexpected pain; fear of blood work; fear of recurrence; fear, fear fear!
I gathered my tribe around me as I marched through these past few weeks of fear, knowing I had to have these tests done to determine that my body remains healthy. I reached out to friends, trusted physicians, and family to “be in my corner”, pray, send me good vibes, and “circle the wagons” so I would get good results. I have PTSD from too many unwanted results from tests and scans and I needed their blanket of warmth to make me feel secure and strong, no matter what the outcome was going to be.
Does this sound familiar? So many, too many breast cancer patients experience these feelings after diagnosis because monitoring and follow up are just part of the Journey. It is the bumpy part of the Journey.
I have the most amazing phlebotomist that I have been going to throughout my second breast cancer Journey. She hugs me when she sees me, warms my cold veins up with a heat pack, hits my uncooperative veins the first time, every time and hugs me when I leave. This time, she even color coordinated the compression tape with my favorite fashion color of the day, blue! What a gal. I never have fear when I go to see her because she makes it that easy for me. I asked her how long the results would take to get back. She had a look on her face as if to tell me, “If it were up to me, NOW, would be the right answer!” But she smiled her sweet smile and said, “Give it a couple of days.”
Embrace your Fears for they will come and go!
My fellow survivors, my fearless friends who go through what I have gone through these past few weeks, worrying about the results of this blood work… embrace your fear! Surround yourself with those you love to shore you up if that is what works to get you through. These fears will come and go. You will worry, cry, canoodle about the what ifs, and then you will open your email to check the results on your medical charts. You will get the phone call from the nurse or doctor telling you your results. Good or bad, this doesn’t change and comes with a cancer diagnosis. Some of us have few tests and scans to endure and some have multiple and frequent tests and scans to endure. You are strong and brave even though you didn’t sign up to be in this club. When it has passed, be fearless and celebrate.
Today, on my birthday, I opened my email. My tests results were in my secure medical chart. I signed in and looked at the results. All normal and I am grateful.
Today I will be fearless and celebrate!