Dealing With the Stress of Breast Cancer

By Darla Dawald Published 04/5/2006 | Women
December 12, 2001 was one of the worst days of my life. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This diagnosis would be the catalyst for surgeries, other health issues, financial destruction, the repossession of my house and car, and a divorce, not to mention the loss of self esteem and stress on my body.

This occurred four years ago and the last four years have been the most trying in my adult life. I have undergone 5 surgeries in less than a year and a total of 7 surgical procedures for various things in the last 6 years. I lost a 60,000 a year job and relocated six times.

There were days I thought why didn't this cancer I had kill me? Wouldn't that have been better than the fallout I have had to endure as a result of this cancer?

My faith increased...and at times decreased. I struggled through and continually tried to look at the positives. Starting over is difficult albeit necessary sometimes. The only constant is change. I was 38 when I was diagnosed and subsequently went through a mastectomy and six months later a radical hysterectomy.

I was in shock. I had spent nearly 20 years in management, working high stress jobs, and dealing with difficult abusive relationships. My doctor informed me that his belief was that stress on my body for so many years had caused the cancer. He instructed me to make life changing decisions that would affect my entire life.

These have not all been easy. Let me tell you some of what I have learned...
  • I learned to say NO...and not overextend myself.
  • I learned that there are rewarding careers that don't involve managing others
  • I learned that money is not everything and certainly isn't worth bad health
  • I learned that I could live a happy life and not sweat the small stuff
  • I learned that I don't have to be a perfectionist in every area
  • I learned that personal relationships are valuable..however, I don't let them invade my personal time or life
  • If it's not my problem...I don't get involved
  • I learned not to take things so serious all the time
  • I learned that laughter is truly the best medicine and it is healing!
  • I have learned that material processions don't mean diddly squat! (can't take it with you)
  • I learned to listen to my body...when it says I'm sick or I'm tired etc...I stop, listen and react to that now

There is so much that I have learned over the past four years it is unbelievable. I only named some of the more significant things.

It is important to look at yourself and evaluate your attitude, habits, actions, and overall way of living. Then set out to make changes. I ask myself when I begin to feel stressed...Am I bringing this on myself? Do I really need to be involved? Am I enabling someone else by taking this responsibility on? Am I neglecting myself with this added whatever?

Just devise some questions that cause you to think before acting or reacting. Take time for you! Seriously, if you are sick and stressed who can you really be there for anyway? Stop and take care of you first!

I just remarried two weeks ago and I am 42 1/2 yrs old. I never thought I would find true love and I never thought my life would be a happy one again. I mean I hoped but wasn't sure I believed it. Then Jeff came along and it all changed. The other changes were gradual of course!

I am actually thankful for what I have been through...I am a better person because of it. I am happy and in better control of me! I very seldom stress out about anything anymore...I have my life...what is there to stress about?

Warmest regards,
Darla G. Dawald

Author, Consultant, Speaker

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