Finding a New “Normal” After Surviving Breast Cancer
By: Jessica Fleming, Manager, Distributor Engagement at Herbalife Nutrition
I am really diligent about checking myself. I have a condition called Fibrocystic Breast Disease, which means benign lumps form in my breasts and I have to keep an eye on them because one could be malignant. That is how I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30: self-examination saved my life.
“You are so young” was one of the phrases I kept hearing after I got diagnosed. I knew everyone who said it came from a good place, but it is a misleading expression because cancer does not discriminate; it is not exclusive of people over a certain age. And it may be hard for young people to acknowledge that, but doing so can lead them to listen to their body, take care of themselves, and get regular check-ups.
When you’re going through hard times –be it depression, anxiety or cancer–, the worst feeling is that you are alone, that no one knows what you’re going through. As wonderful and supportive as my family, friends and colleagues were, it was only women, my age and younger, that had been diagnosed with breast cancer that knew how I felt. I found in that community an enormous amount of support and hope.
Finding these groups of women was really helpful in my recovery process, and it still is. Women offered me words of encouragement and it made the whole difference for me. Knowing people that survived and thrived after going what I am going through gave me hope. But to some of us, surviving is the hardest part of cancer, because you are expected to just go back to normal. And life doesn’t go back to normal.
When I first was diagnosed, I was in “fight mode. I didn’t allow myself to think about what I was going through; I was too focused on getting through treatment. The entire time, my purpose was to get back to normal and live my life the way I lived it before I was diagnosed. But I’ve discovered there is not going back to normal: you’re forever changed. You were diagnosed with this life-threatening disease, so you have to try and find a new normal.
For me, my new normal has been about learning to be kind to myself, being kind to my body and my mind. My body has endured so much, and it has fought for me! And my mind isn’t the same as it was before: I have these battle wounds that I am still learning how to cope with ,and I am doing so with the support of my loved ones. I am learning to accept that things are different and moving on from there.
As a breast cancer survivor, I’m proud of the support Herbalife Nutrition is providing to the American Cancer Society* to help bring awareness and raise funds for continued cancer research. Knowing that institutions have the resources to keep doing high-level studies makes me feel more confident and able to provide support to women who are going through what I went.
The American Cancer Society does not endorse or promote any Herbalife Nutrition products or services. Most dietary supplements, including Herbalife Nutrition products, have not been shown to be beneficial for the prevention or treatment of cancer. People undergoing cancer treatment should check with their health care provider before using any dietary supplement.