It was about six months after I had initially heard that “C” word. I had been through three surgeries and my life had been consumed by appointments with surgeons, oncologists, specialists, tests, recovery, new medicines, rinse and repeat. You know the drill.
It was a few weeks after my last surgery and I had just gone back to work. Everyone was celebrating me, “beating cancer” and “it all being behind me.” Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful too but there was one problem – I still felt this black cloud hanging over me and I couldn’t seem to get out from under it.
Then the panic attacks started. And then it happened. I came home from work and found myself on my bathroom floor having what felt like a complete meltdown over a simple plumbing problem. I mean, a full-on rolling-around-on-the-floor, hysterical fit. That was the moment I realized that there was another piece of this recovery that I had not been prepared for and it was crashing down on me.
Throughout my journey, I had not had any trouble sharing the “medical” stuff with my family and friends, but I struggled when it came to the emotional side of things. I quickly learned of the perception that the other side of treatment is when life gets back to normal. And in some ways, I guess it does. You have to go to work. You have to pay bills and take the trash out, clean the house, and wash the clothes. You so desperately want to feel like going to lunch with friends, meeting for coffee, going for a walk. But most days, you just don’t. So you try to figure out this “new normal” all the while thinking, “I never asked for a new normal.”
My story isn’t unlike so many. Whether your path led to a lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemo, radiation, or other cancer treatment drugs, it is hard. Whether your journey has been a week, several months or 10 years, it is hard. Whether you hear Stage 1 or Stage 4, it is hard. All across the board, it is hard.
But I don’t think we should have to do this hard thing alone. That’s why I’ve created Pink Retreats. The goal of these retreats is to create a safe, comfortable, inviting space for breast cancer survivors to be able to rest, refresh, and gain the support we need to recover from the emotional aspects of breast cancer.
Last year, I found myself saying over and over again, “Just please let me have five minutes to breathe before you hit me with something else.” PINK Retreats is a place where you can do just that.