STILL A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

Beauty is more than a skinny body, fancy clothes, and makeup. Going through cancer can put your body through harsh treatments and sometimes multiple surgeries. Some lose their hair, some have only the spot where the cancer is removed, and some have both breasts removed. Radiation and chemotherapy are harsh treatments. Going through these treatments and surgeries can make you feel ugly and less like a woman.

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When I was given the choice to have a mastectomy, I thought I had to have reconstruction to keep my beauty. I thought I’d be less of a woman without breasts. After the surgery it took me a while to look at my chest or look at myself shirtless in a mirror. I was afraid to see the scars where my breasts used to be. I was afraid I would look ugly and disfigured. When I finally looked at my chest, I cried.

I told my husband, “I’m ugly.”

He looked into my eyes. “You’re still beautiful and always will be.”

I weighed my options for having or not having reconstruction. I wrote out a list of the positives and negatives of both. I listened to others at my breast cancer support group tell about their experiences with reconstruction. In the end it all came down to whether or not I could like myself without breasts or did I need to have them to feel beautiful. It’s a personal choice. My biggest fear was going through multiple surgeries to get new breasts and dealing with complications. I already needed to get a hysterectomy.

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I would stand in front of the mirror and ask myself, “Am I any less of a woman without breasts? Is Lou right? Am I still beautiful?”

I had to ask myself, What is beauty?” Is it having big breasts and a perfect body or is it much more? Is it looking good for everyone? Is beauty on the outside or in the inside? Did having scars on my chest make me less beautiful then other women?

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When I returned to work, I told a woman about my mastectomy and the breast cancer. She laughed and said, “Now you can be a boy.”

I wanted to yell, “I am still a woman and I am beautiful,” but I didn’t.

In time I realized my scars are what make me beautiful. They are proof of the battle I fought to overcome an awful disease. I don’t need breasts to be beautiful. I may have lost my breasts, but I didn’t lose who I am inside. Beauty radiates within me and outside of me. I’m not ashame of being flat chested and I’m not any less of a woman.

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I fought an awful battle and I developed a new perspective of myself and on life. I decided I don’t want to go through any more surgeries. I’m okay with living my life without breasts. I have a wonderful personality and a lovely body. I may have scars, but I am still beautiful. I lost a lot to cancer and the BRCA gene, but I didn’t lose who I am. I may have lost my breasts, my ovaries, uterus, and cervix, but I am still a vibrant woman. I am still a fighter, I’m still kind, and I’m still caring. I am still me.

Beauty isn’t about how perfect your body is or how much hair you have. Beauty is the person you are inside and outside. Your scars and loss of hair only make you look even more gorgeous. They are signs of the battle you fought and the strength you had to fight it. Beauty is your personality and the love you have burning within your heart. No person is ugly.

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Whether you decide to go with reconstruction or not, you are beautiful. God doesn’t make anyone ugly. The important thing is accepting yourself and opening your eyes to your beauty. You have to feel comfortable with yourself and love yourself. It might take time to find acceptance, but you will find it. Whatever cancer takes from you, the one thing it can’t take is your beauty.

I am happy with myself as I am. I’m proud to be a woman without breasts. I am still a beautiful woman. I stand in the light of strength and the Lord’s miracles.

 

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RECUPERATING DURING THE HOLIDAYS

The holiday season is stressful for most people. There are meals to prepare, parties to attend, gifts to buy, and on top of it all bills to pay. Recuperating from treatments and surgeries due to illnesses like breast cancer can make the holidays even crazier. They can also make the holidays depressing. You’re trying to get better while life keeps going on all around you. It’s hard to handle. Especially when money is tight and you have limitations on what you can do.

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I wanted to have my hysterectomy in August right after my mastectomy, but they didn’t have an opening until November. I didn’t want to have surgery around the holidays. I now know waiting three months was easier on my body. The worst part for me was being off work and home alone during the holiday season. Yes, it was nice not dealing with the mad rush of customers at the grocery store where I work or lifting the heavy frozen turkeys, but it was lonely.

My friends were working extra hours and busy planning get-togethers with their families. They had no time to visit with me. My emotions ran wild. I was put on a hormone blocker to prevent reoccurrence of cancer, and it put me into a deep depression. I felt like no one cared about me. I kept thinking maybe to my friends this surgery wasn’t as important as the mastectomy. Maybe they thought because they helped me with one surgery they had done enough. My mind came up with all kinds of reasons why my friends were staying away and this made my depression worse.

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It didn’t help that my parents went out of town for the holidays. Before they left, they were busy preparing for their trip and didn’t have time to come over and spend the day with me while my husband was at work. They did have us over for dinner one night. It’s not that my parents forgot about me. They called me to check on me when they got to my brother’s in Tennessee. It just seemed like everyone’s lives were going on while mine was sitting still.

I was restricted on what I could do and I was in pain. I was in no shape cook my own meals, do housework, or do much of my regular activities. My disability check was barely enough to even buy groceries. Luckily we saved enough money from my last surgery to keep our bills paid, but we had to be careful on our spending during the week.

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Sitting around worrying about whether or not people still cared, the abundance of housework that wasn’t being done, what we were going to do for Thanksgiving, and having money to make it through the week drove me nuts. In order to fight depression and to keep from being bored, I had to keep busy. I colored in my adult coloring books, a friend sent me a word search book, I started doing our Christmas cards, and I watched lots of shows and movies. My husband took me for rides. I even did some editing of my memoir.

I still got bored, so I started up a craft I hadn’t done in a while. I decided I would start woodburning again. I have many books with patterns and a supply of wood that has gone untouched for a couple years. Suddenly my days were busy. I had to trace patterns on the wood and I woodburned the details of a picture. I started making Christmas decorations and special gifts for friends, family, and my husband. This took up a lot of my days. It also is saving me money on gifts for Christmas.

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I also used my coping techniques I learned while struggling with mental illness. I journal daily and I turn to my husband, family, and close friends for support. A text message from a friend or my parent’s voice over the phone gave me strength. I tried to point out the positives of going through this surgery like no more pap smears, I didn’t have to lift heavy turkeys, I didn’t have to put up with grumpy customers, and I could sit around the house in my pajamas all day.

If you’re recuperating during the holidays, try to keep yourself occupied. Don’t get upset with family and friends when they are busy with extra work hours and preparing for meals and parties. They still care and you’re still important. Find creative things you can do to make gifts or decorations. Remember coping techniques to help you with any sadness you feel. While you’re healing is a good time to think about what the holidays are really about and reach out in letters or phone calls to old friends or distant family members.

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We spent Thanksgiving with my older sister and family. I already have several Christmas gifts made and other projects to do. We saved money on gifts. I’m feeling good and I return back to work on December tenth. I now stand proudly in the light of recovery from surgery.

THE RECOVERY PROCESS

Surgery of any kind is a big thing. The easy part is going through the surgery, because you’re unconscious. The hard part is afterwards when you wake up from anesthesia and the pain kicks in. Then the recovery process can be painful, tiring, and at times boring. Many who have gone through or are going through breast cancer have faced the recovery process. Some are recovering from surgery and some are recovering from chemo, radiation, and other treatments. Breast cancer is a rough illness and some survivors face several surgeries and treatments.

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I was in tears when I first was diagnosed with breast cancer and again when I was told I have the BRCA gene. I knew I had a long road ahead of me and I also knew I was a fighter. Having the BRACA gene meant two surgeries, a mastectomy and a hysterectomy. They were both by choice. I could have just had the cancer removed from my breast and risked the chance of getting another cancer. The hysterectomy was a prevention surgery. The doctor told me ovarian cancer is very hard to detect and by the time it’s detected it’s serious. I just wanted to take all steps necessary to prevent cancer from intruding my body again.

Right now I’m recovering from the hysterectomy. I’m not sure which recovery was harder, the bilateral mastectomy or the hysterectomy. With the first surgery I had these awful drains that hurt every time I moved and had to be emptied three times a day. I couldn’t shower for two weeks, I had to sleep propped up, I had to wear button down shirts and I slept a lot.

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With the hysterectomy I have two incisions on each side of my belly. The one on the right felt like someone was kicking me in the stomach. Lying down felt the best and walking upstairs hurt. I could lie down while sleeping, but I had to pick a side and not move. My husband has had to help me get dressed. I can shower, but I need help getting in and out of my tub. Bending over is no fun at all. I think the worst part is the emotional roller coaster the sudden menopause put me on.

I feel like I have fallen into depression once again. For several days I cried non-stop over the smallest things. I cried because no one sent me get well cards, I cried because none of my friends visited me, I cried because I thought no one cared anymore, and I cried just to cry. The sadness is worst when I’m alone like when my hubby goes to bed or is at work. Thanksgiving is coming so people are over loaded with busy work schedules and preparing for their family feasts. My parents left for Tennessee to see my brother and family. I have no choice but to spend some alone time.

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The pain is getting better. I’m still tender in places, and I’m restricted on what I can do. I hate sitting around doing nothing. It makes me even more emotional. When I had the mastectomy I did have some emotional spells. I had to accept the fact I no longer had breasts, but it was nothing compared to this. The other day I cried while on the phone with my mom. I told her I don’t want to go through depression again. I struggled with it for many years and overcame it. This can’t be happening.

I called my doctor at the cancer center and was reminded it is probably menopause, but to be sure they told me to stop taking my hormone blocker for a couple of weeks. I went to my psychiatrist and he increased the dosage of my antidepressant. I started my Christmas cards, I’m coloring in my adult coloring book, I edited a story and sent it to a magazine, and I journal. I try to journal the positive things and I remind myself this time it’s temporary. I turn to my husband, friends, and family for support.

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Cancer took my life and spun it in circles. I never expected having two surgeries within three months, but all in all I think I have handled everything well. Yes, recovering from two surgeries in such short times apart has been hard and emotional, but in the end I think I’ll come out stronger. I’m still in the process of recovery from my hysterectomy. It’s been two weeks and I’m supposed to be off work for four to six week. With my coping skills I’ll get through it.

If you are facing recovery from surgeries and other treatments from breast cancer, try to stay positive. If you are able to, keep busy with crafts or other things you are able to do like adult coloring books, computer games, word searches, and reading. Cancer is a hard illness to go through and its treatments can be hard. You can’t do it alone. Turn to friends and family for support. You can reach recovery and this illness will only make you stronger.

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In time I’m sure I will get through the depression and emotional roller coaster. I’m a fighter and I won’t let menopause keep me down. Soon I’ll see the light of recovery shining brightly again.

 

SURGERY NUMBER TWO

Any type of surgery is scary. Being put under while someone works on a part of your body with a scalpel is frightening. Then when you’re preparing for surgery, people tell you the horror story of their own experiences. Then there are people who make it sound like surgery is no big deal, when to you it is. Wondering what it is going to be like after surgery, hearing others stories, and trying to prepare for the surgery and recovery are nerve wracking. It’s easy to become depressed and anxious.

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I had my mastectomy on July 17 and that was not an easy surgery. I had a hard time waking up from anesthesia, but the worst part was the drains that hurt every time I moved. The drains had to be emptied three times a day. I slept a lot and I had to sleep propped up. Then it took time for my incisions to heal.

This Friday I will be going in for my second surgery, a hysterectomy. It should be nothing compared to the mastectomy, but yet I’m on edge. The gynecologist who is doing the surgery said I’ll probably be stuck on the couch for a couple weeks afterwards.

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I’ve heard many stories about hysterectomies. One said it’ll hurt to just get out of bed, another said to have pads on hand because I’ll bleed a lot, and yet another said I’ll be in too much pain to do anything. I don’t know how my body will react to the surgery, but I’m trying hard not to worry about it. I keep telling myself it has to be easier than the first one, but the thing is no surgery, no matter how small, is easy. This will be my fifth surgery within my life time.

My first one was when I was four and I had my tonsils out. I still remember it. I stayed in the hospital and the nurse rocked me to sleep when I cried for my mom. None of my surgeries were easy. I hate the preparation. You get into a gown while they ask you questions and stab you with needles to put in IVs. Then they take you in to the surgery room and help you get on the table. I think the part I hate the most is waking up afterwards. They ask you questions while you try hard to figure out where you are.

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Right now I’m trying to prepare for surgery. We are buying microwave meals so we don’t have to worry about cooking for a while, I’m trying to get housework done so I don’t have to worry about it, I’m buying birthday cards for family members who have birthdays while I’m off, and I bought paper plates and cups so we won’t have to worry about the dishes. I’ll be off work from four to six weeks and disability doesn’t pay a lot, so Lou and I have been trying to save up money.

The hardest part is getting ready emotionally. Last year I had ankle surgery, this year I already had one surgery, and now another one is coming. When do I get a break? Am I the most unlucky person to have to go through so much? When do the health problems end? What will this surgery be like? How badly will I hurt after surgery? Am I strong enough to get through another surgery? The questions flood my mind. 20161130_122915

When I go to bed at night, sometimes I just sit in the dark thinking about what lies ahead of me. God only knows how this surgery will go and what recovery will be like. It’s not knowing that scares me the most. I hate being put under and waking up. I hate the idea of spending the night in the hospital, but the only thing that comforts me is knowing my husband will be waiting for me and he’ll be there the whole night. I hate not being able to do much while I’m recovering.

Instead of getting depressed about surgery, I’m trying to look at the positives. I’ll be out of work during Thanksgiving so I won’t have to deal with the holiday rush or lift frozen turkeys, I’ll get pampered by my husband, friends are planning to bring us delicious meals, and I’ll be off my feet and will not have to deal with the usual foot pain I get from standing for hours on end.

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I ask why did I have to get cancer and have the BRCA gene? Maybe it’s so I can write about it and maybe it’s just one of those things. God only knows. I just know I will face this next surgery with strength. Staying positive will help me get through recovery and keep me standing within the light.

 

Next week and maybe the week after there won’t be a blog post while I’m recovering from surgery. Soon as I feel up to it I will get back to blogging. In the comments let me know how you have dealt with up and coming surgeries.

 

GETTING FIT

Your food choices and exercise routines can help you fight mental illness and breast cancer. Television and other media advertise the easy way to lose weight and beat cancer or the foods that will help you get out of depression. Many of the newest breakthrough diets require you to give up meat, grains, and other foods. Skinny models are supposed to be the image we want to fight for emulate. All of this seems overwhelming. It’s hard to get motivated to work toward being healthier when you think you have to give up everything you like and when getting off the cozy couch to exercise seem like a chore.

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My doctor has been telling me for years to lose weight and eat better. My psychiatrist started me in a healthy diet program where they sent me information through the mail on eating healthy and exercising. I did lose some weight for a little while, but slipped up and gained it all back. I tried to do some exercises at home, but I came up with excuses not to do them. I’m too sore after work, I don’t have time, I don’t have enough energy, and so on. The excuses worked for me. I came up with this mind set, “If they can’t love me the way I am, who cares,” but while I stuck to that I felt awful about how I looked. I thought of myself as a fat slob. This only made me more depressed and made it hard for me to love myself.

After recovering from a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, I started thinking more about my overall health. Even if I have my breasts and uterus removed, there are other places I can get cancer in my body. What if I recover from cancer and end up with another illness like diabetes? How many health battles will I have to face if I don’t do something?

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Feeling like I needed to do something, I posted on Facebook, “I’m fat and I need to lose weight.” I got lots of comments on how to lose weight, but one person took it a step further.

Denise, a woman I work with, is into fitness stopped by my register, “What hours do you work Monday?”

“I’m off,” I replied.

“Good. I’ll pick you up at 9 am. Bring a towel and water bottle. Wear shorts, sneakers, and a t-shirt.”

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I looked at her. “Why? What are we doing?”

Denise smiled. “You said on Facebook you want to lose weight, so I’m going to help you. We are going to work out.”

My stomach fell like a deflated ball. Could I do it? Am I strong enough to do this? Will she give up on me once she sees how badly out of shape I am? Will I have an asthma attack? Do I have what it takes to keep going?

Monday we got together. Denise showed me different types of exercises. I felt like falling over and saying, “I give up” several times, but I pushed. I ran out of breath, my muscles ached, and sweat dripped down my back, but I didn’t give up. Denise encouraged me to keep going when I thought I had nothing left in me. She high fived me and congratulated me when I refused to give up. Her enthusiasm made me want to continue on.

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Afterwards I went home, showered, and dropped to the couch. I hurt all over, but I felt pride deep inside me. Denise didn’t give up on me, and I didn’t quit. I dug down inside me for the determination that helped me to reach recovery from mental illness and to fight cancer, to push when I felt too tired to go on. I exercised for a full hour without quitting. That for me was a big accomplishment.

The next time we got together we went on a bike ride. I hadn’t ridden a bike in a couple of years. We have decided to exercise twice a week until my next surgery. Once I’m healed, we’ll start up again. Since I have been working out I can walk long distances with my husband without stopping several times to take a breath. I am very proud of myself and I feel stronger.

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I also went to the cancer center to see a dietitian. We went over a normal day’s diet for me. What he told me encouraged me and made me want to continue on my quest to get in shape.

He said, “I’m not going to tell you what to stop eating, because when you’re told what not to eat, you crave it more. What I am going to do is tell you what healthy foods to add and how to break down the unhealthy foods into smaller portions.”

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In other words I don’t have to give up the foods I like, I just have to eat less of them and add fruits and vegetables. This was much easier then denying myself the things I like. This was and will be a plan I can follow. I’m confident I can make these changes. The dietitian also gave me a cook book and I started picking out some recipes to try. He told me how green, leafy vegetables help fight cancer.

By working out and starting to change my diet, I feel empowered to be a better, healthier person. I’m more confident in myself. Nothing is going to stand in my way. Exercising and making these changes is helping me feel better not just physically, but also emotionally. I am proud of myself.

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Exercise and diet do help with mental illness and cancer, but it has to be your choice. If you can’t stick to a routine, find someone who will work beside you and encourage you. Even once or twice a week makes a difference. You can do it. You’ll sweat, you’ll gasp for air, you’ll hurt, but you’ll feel good because you did it. Push against all odds to get fit for you. Ignore all those who lectured you about your weight. You’re not doing this for them. You’re doing this for you: for a happier, healthier, and stronger you. You can do it.

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I’m dedicated to keeping to an exercise routine and changing my diet. I’m already starting to feel better about myself and stronger. I’m determined to fight off chances of getting cancer again and to stay within the light of recovery. Because I’m willing to make these choices, I feel like the light is shining down on me more brightly.

 

 

SAYING THE RIGHT THING

In a previous post I wrote about all the wrong things to say to someone suffering with depression, and in this post I want to talk about the right things to say. What you say to a person struggling with depression can make a big difference. It can make the person feel loved, uplifted, encouraged, and cared for. The words you say can help him or her decide to strive for recovery and to keep fighting. The person fighting depression needs support and kindness.

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Here are a few things you can say that will help out a person with depression:

  • I’m Here For You. Those four words can make a big difference in a person’s life. When a woman or man is struggling with this illness, he or she feels all alone and like a burden. Telling him or her that you’re there for the person lets him or her know she or he is not alone. Someone cares.
  • How Can I Help? Being willing to help the best you can is important to a person with depression. He or she needs to know someone cares enough to help when it is necessary. It’s good to know that there is a person out there willing to help even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.
  • You Are Important and Your Life is Important. Many who face depression feel worthless and feel like their lives are a mistake. They can become suicidal and feel that everyone will be better off if they’re gone. Knowing he or she is important to just one person out there means the world, and knowing that someone thinks his or her life is important may help them want to keep living. Your words can help a person struggling reconsider suicide.
  • Have You Told Your Doctor/Therapist How You Feel? Being a friend and helping when you can is important, but you’re not a professional. It’s important to remind the one fighting this illness that he or she needs to tell the doctor or therapist how he or she feels so he or she can get the proper treatment. Encouraging a person to seek treatment is crucial in the battle to reach recovery. Knowing there are people out their trained to help gives the person hope.
  • Recovery Isn’t Easy, But It’s Possible. The person struggling often feels like he or she is stuck in the dark hole forever. He or she can’t see the light beyond the darkness. Encouraging the person that there is a possibility for recovery gives him or her hope. It’s also important that he or she knows it’s not easy, but it’s worth the fight. Even though he or she finds it hard to believe recovery is possible, keep reminding him or her it is possible. Inspire the person to work hard, because there is a life above the hole within the light.
  • God Didn’t Make a Mistake Making You. Depressed people often feels like their lives and very beings are a mistake. Telling him or her that he or she is not a mistake gives them a reason for their existence. Let the person know he or she was made for a purpose. Tell him or her God doesn’t make mistakes. Let him or her know that even though things are tough, God will get him or her through it.
  • It’s Ok to Feel That Way. Many who are sick hide their feelings and feel as if their feelings are inappropriate. Let them know that their feelings are okay. It’s not a sin or horrible thing to feel depressed. Let them know they  have no reason to be ashamed to feel so many emotions. By doing this you are letting them know you recognize their feelings and know that they are real and important. Just knowing that means the world to the sick person, because he or she often feels his or her feelings are not valid.

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Remember, words make a big impact on people and what you say can make a difference. If you really want to help a person struggling with depression, then make sure you say the right things. Saying the right thing will help your friend or loved one know you are there for him or her and you’re willing to support him or her. Encouraging words mean the world to a person stuck at the bottom of the hole and it may help him or her move closer to recovery.

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I have wonderful friends, family and a husband who seem to know what to say when I’m at my darkest. Their words lifted me up into the light.

 

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT

When you’re going through a major illness like mental illness or breast cancer, it’s important to have people to listen, to care, and to help you. Family and friends can provide support to a certain point, but having support from a group of people who know what you are facing is even more important. It’s easier to confide in people who understand what you are going through because they have been where you are or are still traveling the same or a similar path as you. You can find these people in a support group.

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Support groups are beneficial in many ways. You may say you feel uncomfortable talking to a group of strangers, but these strangers know more than anyone what it’s like to be in your shoes. I joined Linked By Pink breast cancer support group in August right after my double mastectomy. After only two meetings I feel like I was meant to join. The first meeting I received hugs and I was able to speak openly about what I was struggling with. I usually find it hard to talk in a crowd of people I don’t know. In a group of strangers I usually sit quietly and say nothing unless spoken to, but I felt differently at Linked By Pink.

I learned that there are many benefits to support groups: learning new coping skills, learning to talk openly about feelings, making new friendships, feeling less lonely, getting out of the house, reducing stress, depression and anxiety, learning about new treatments, comparing doctors, and finding new resources. To me these benefits are something I felt like I couldn’t pass up. I have many friends, but none truly understand what I’m going through. I’ve had to explain to several of my friends what a compression sleeve is and what lymphedema is. It’s nice to meet with a group of women once a month who know exactly what these are.

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Make sure you do some research to find the right support group for you. There are many types of support groups that focus on specific issues like mental illness, abuse, divorce, grief, and so on. You have to feel comfortable in the group you join. If you don’t, try another one. When I was self-injuring, I joined a support group for self-injurers. The group seemed to be very negative and the people running it seemed worse off than those attending. I felt uncomfortable and had to quit the group. It didn’t give me the warm, caring and compassionate vibes I got from just attending my first meeting of Linked By Pink.

It’s important to know the main reasons why support groups are formed and what makes them important to your needs. Linked By Pink was started in October 2008 to provide support to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

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Norma Zimmer, president of Linked By Pink, told me in an email, “Women who started working on a calendar project to raise funds for other organizations found out how helpful it was to be with other young women to compare notes on treatments and emotional issues. So they started a support group called Link By Pink.”

Some support groups provide more than just emotional support. They also provide a range of services like financial grants, scholarships, and so on.

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Programs and services Linked By Pink provides are:

  • Comfort gift bags to anyone diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Gift cards to members for meals after surgery
  • Grants to help with Medical, Travel, and Living Expenses available to anyone diagnosed under the age of 55. (In 2017 they awarded over $60,000 to local women and their families in grant money alone)
  • House cleaning for stage 4 members
  • Healthy lifestyle programs to help members learn about preventing recurrence
  • Christmas presents to families of members who have passed
  • Monthly support meetings
  • Online peer to peer support
  • Online peer to peer support for co-survivors and caregivers
  • Seven college scholarships totaling $5500 given out annually to Erie County high school students who have had a family member diagnosed

I received a comfort gift bag when I first learned I had breast cancer. Jael Norman Lippert, Managing Director, delivered the bag. She gave me a hug and said a prayer for me. It was right then I felt like I wasn’t alone. I also received the medical, travel, and living expense grant. This grant removed the worry of paying bills while I was off from work. My disability at work only paid me $57.00, not enough to live off of. My husband and I need both our paychecks to make it week by week. The grants eased my anxiety about paying bills.

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Linked By Pink is focused in Erie, Pennsylvania. If you are from out of state, check with your doctor for local support groups, talk to nonprofit organizations, search the internet for National Institutes of Health websites for your specific illness, and join online support groups.

You can find out more about Linked By Pink at http://www.linkedbypink.org/. You must attend one meeting to be added to the Facebook group.

Take the steps you need to find recovery by joining a support group. Support of all kinds is very important, and when family and friends are not enough, turn to a group of people who have experienced or are experiencing what you are. It helps to have people who understand you.

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I plan on attending many more Linked By Pink meetings. I am willing to learn, to find support, and grow within a group of women who are survivors. I stand within their beacon of light of support and strength.

 

THE WRONG THINGS TO SAY

It’s hard to know what to say to a person who is suffering with depression. What you say can either cause people to fall deep down the hole of darkness or help them feel a little better. So many people say the wrong thing. They may not realize how detrimental their words are to a person who is sick. People may even make comments because they really don’t understand what depression is.

What Do You Say Concept

Here is a list of the wrong things to say to a person with depression:

  • It’s All In Your Head. Depression is not imagined or faked. It’s very real. The sadness the person feels is not pretend. He or she is actually feeling that way. The person has a real illness due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
  • Think Happy Thoughts. A person with depression can’t just think about something happy and his or her depression will disappear. It’s not that easy. If it were there would be no need for anti-depressants, therapists, and psychiatrists. As a matter of fact, many who are sick find it hard to think of happy things. It takes a combination of therapy, hard work, and medication to learn to find the good things about life.
  • Snap Out Of It. A person who is ill can’t just snap her or his fingers and the sadness disappears. It’s not that easy. When a person is crying and feeling hopeless, she or he can’t just pull him or herself out of it. Depression is an illness, and like any illness, it takes treatments such as therapy and medication to help a person see the light. Snapping out of it is impossible. You can’t just snap a person out of cancer and you can’t snap a person out of depression.
  • Grow Up. The sadness, crying-out breaks, and hopeless thinking are not a sign of immaturity. It has nothing to do with acting like a baby. They are part of a serious illness and should not be taken lightly. It’s not a matter of growing up. Even mature adults of all ages can have depression. It’s not immaturity; it’s an illness that’s out of the person’s control.
  • What Do You Have To Be Depressed About? So many think in order for someone to be deeply saddened they have to have a reason like horrible parents, an awful job, bad relationships, or so on, but that’s not true. People with depression often don’t even know why they are feeling down. They just are. You can have the best life ever and still be depressed. Why? Because it’s an illness of the brain; chemicals in the brain are not working properly.
  • If You Trust In God Or Read The Bible You’ll Be Cured. God does work miracles, but sometimes he allows us to go through rough things for a reason. A person with depression will not be magically cured by reading the Bible and praying to God. I’m not saying God and the Bible won’t help because they will, but they won’t make a person’s illness magically disappear. God will stand beside the person, he will guide him or her, he will open doors for the person, and much more. God gives those suffering with depression the tools to help him or herself. The Bible will give a person comfort, insight, and strength, but it won’t cure him or her. I’m not saying miracles can’t happen, but God also gives us tools to help ourselves. If you happen to receive a miracle, then thank God.
  • IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT. The person struggling with depression did nothing wrong to get this sickness. They did not make a mistake, nor did something on purpose to make him or her sad. No illness is a person’s own fault. You don’t tell someone with multiple sclerosis it’s his or her fault. It’s a sickness. No one is at fault.

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When a person is depressed, saying the right thing is very important because what you say can either hurt or help a person. Pick your words carefully and make sure you understand what depression is. Understanding depression can help you help someone fighting depression. Saying the wrong thing can push the person struggling down, but saying the right thing can bring comfort, renewed strength and hope.

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When I was struggling, many people said the wrong things to me and dragged me down and it hurt. The people who chose their words carefully made a big difference in my recovery process. My friends and families carefully picked sayings that helped me fight harder, that brought me comfort, and that lifted me up. The right things said is what helped me stand proudly in the light.

Keep reading for a future post on the right things to say to someone who is struggling with depression.