“EHE has changed every aspect of my life, and surprisingly, a lot of them, for the good. You think of a cancer diagnosis affecting the physical body, which it does. But for me, the most challenging part has been in my mind. Coming to terms with this new unwanted adjective/label, cancer patient, has been surreal. Prior to my diagnosis, I’d describe myself as an extroverted, positive, high-functioning, type A, overachiever, unselfishly giving, and tying my self-worth to crossing items off my to do list.
After my initial diagnosis, in retrospect, I was in denial. I did not want to tell anyone outside of my immediate family. I’d get the surgery and just move on with my life. I had one, small, rare tumor – this was an anomaly, just another problem to be fixed. After the first surgery, I focused all my attention on my physical health, thinking if I could find the right combination of supplements, yoga, acupuncture, plant-based diet (insert anything), I could prevent a reoccurrence and control this situation.
When the cancer came back and required another surgery, it really affected my mental state and shook my illusion of control and sense of self. It also brought up a lot of challenging feelings and unwanted emotions, I was not prepared for or equipped to deal with. Fortunately, I was referred to an amazing therapist that specializing in working with cancer patients. Having a supportive family, caring friends, and spirituality is great and a blessing, but having a therapist where you can share your unfiltered thoughts and work through very challenging (and normal) emotions is vital. For anyone that is struggling, I highly recommend getting a good therapist.
Of course, there are good days and bad days, but working with my therapist and with help from my support network, I have been able to reevaluate how I approach and prioritize my life. I’ve been able to ask for help (gasp), be honest about my feelings and ask for what I need, be more present (a work in progress), and change my self-worth value structure. I’m not sure I would be at this point without the diagnosis and my therapist.”
~ Amy Houston