How To Laugh As Much As You Can
As soon as you hear the big “C” word you immediately feel pushed up against the wall. There was no history of cancer in my family so I never expected it. When I got the diagnosis, I stopped hearing what the doctor was saying after I heard the words “breast cancer.” My mom came to meet me and drive me home from that appointment. She started crying when I told her what the doctor had said – all the nurses came running to ask her what was wrong and she said, “no, it’s not me, it’s my daughter – she has breast cancer.”
My biggest fear was telling my 11 year-old son. He’s a mama’s boy and we are incredibly close. I didn’t know how to tell him. I knew he would be devastated and I really didn’t want my diagnosis to affect his life. One of my nurses helped coach me through this. She told me not to use big medical words, but to tell him in my own way with my own words and to be direct and honest with him – which he would know if I wasn’t.
When we knew the chemo treatment was going to cause my hair to fall out, my nurse told me to tell my son that losing my hair actually was a good thing because it meant the chemo was working. So, every day my son would say, “Are you losing your hair?” “Is the chemo working?” and for some time it wasn’t. But when my hair finally started falling out, my son and I celebrated because we knew that was a sign that we were getting the cancer, which would lead to me getting better.
I finished my treatment in August. I said to the doctor, “Am I cancer free?” and he said yes. But I made him say those words to me – I said, “you tell me”. He laughed and said “Yes, Monica. You are cancer free.” I must have sat in my car in the parking lot of the hospital for an hour calling everyone to tell them.
If there is anything I could say to someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer, it would be “don’t be in denial.” If you ever feel anything that might be a lump, you have to go in immediately. And then if it is breast cancer, you need to accept it and fight. Keep moving and don’t look back. Take it one day at a time. Every day I would say to myself “I did this today, I finished this today and tomorrow is another day I have to live. And tomorrow I have to do this.”
There is no time to be sad or depressed because it takes away from your ability to fight the cancer. Think positive, be happy, and laugh as much as you can.