Feeling Loved After Breast Cancer Treatment

Elle Magazine, India, emailed me to ask me about "love" - how that changes post breast cancer treatment - to print in their October Breast Cancer Awareness Issue.

My response:

At 28 years of age, married for almost six years and caring for a two year old daughter, a woman may think she knows all about loving and being loved. But life never stops testing you and your emotions. 'Love' encompasses so many emotions that change you and shape you as a person in times both good and bad. Love is strength, love is respect, love is so much more than can ever be explained through words written or spoken. Love is knowing that your family is praying for you and they are confident that you will step out of the operating room the same person you were, breathing and full of life. Going through cancer treatment, I learned that loving yourself is not selfish. You need to love life to reassure your family that you are strong and will fight cancer because they need you. Love is knowing that even when you have lost your hair from chemo, your daughter will kiss your bald head and burst into laughter from how that feels! I have learned that expressing yourself more to people who you find love in is very important. Love is when your husband brings seven slices of cheesecake to the recovery room because he couldn't remember your favorite flavor. Post treatment, I learned that love is not found in the material give and take; love is the everyday joys that your child, your spouse, your family, and your friends bring.

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  • Shikha

    Well said. I completely agree with you. I felt the same way. When I went for my chemo therapy my husband and daughter sat beside that chemo chair and watched my face through the entire infusion. When my face changes or if I take a deep breath write away they are worried. I saw the love in every gesture, emotions and care they both showed. Lived with this man for 20 years I always questioned do we love each other ..... Is this a right matrimonial arrangement. But I got my answer on that day. Since I don't have anybody here with me and everybody is living back home in India, we are like a pyramid here just three people. Sine my daughter had to go back to university to continue her studies, my husband took 3 months off to stay with me and registered with me for all activities in this journey.... Yes I see love in it. When I said I don't want reconstruction it is scary to go through another two surgeries ( had two already), he said you look just fine. I had one and half feet long curly hair, when I know I loose all of them and went to salon and cut the hair short, both of them said I look cute and more younger in short cut. When I started loosing hair after the first chemo, my husband was so patient to clean the bath room everyday to remove he fallen hairs so that I don't feel so bad and I saw an emotional support in that. I have more emotional bonding with him than before. Still I have few hair stuck on to my head.... And my daughter says I am going to be one prettiest woman with bald head......those words makes me feel stronger,

    There are so many scars this cancer leaves and makes you so self conscious and inadequate and all the prayers my aged parents do back home..... the support of your loved ones..... friends who have not called or spoken to you for 6 months heard the news through some one and calls you, come and see you, Creates a wonderful lovely environment and yes that is what I call " LOVE"

    Regards

    PK

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I definitely see love in it! I have a husband and a daughter in the US, but everyone else is in India. Same as you. I still see the love; it has made the distance look very small between us. I also see love in this forum with everyone lending support to one another.

  • shikha didi,

    absolutely true... i too underwent the same.... got bc when i was just a year married and a six month old kid in my hand.. i thought i was the most unluckiest person in the world... but after being diagnosed i saw how people loved me day and night..after the first chemo when i shaved my hair, i thought my kid would get scared but in surprise he used to play with me more and my husband used to spend more time loving...as i was doing pg i need to college during my trt and my friends used to support me so much...my staffs used to say u luk very beautiful with ur confidence nd boldness....my parents and siblings were all time praying... love was the only thing i got unlimited..... i realised the worth of love..

  • Dear all, after reading all this full of love and real love feelings..my eyes full of tears..my story is very painful but i have learned lot of things during this tough time...bcu i am staying here alone in Bahrain and my wife treatment has been done in India..its very tough to stay far from family in such a tough time.....i was supporting my wife over the phone...everyday we used to talk 4-5 hours with full patience because some time she made me crazy...blame me for this problem (because she had 5 times ipill in 7 year married life) its very tough...but now i know how much i love her....i can't imagine my life without her...now i know how to control my anger...i went there 3 times in whole treatment once in the beginning and at the time of surgery and at the end of treatment....and finally i bring her here in bahrain for 40 days (daughter summer vacation) and this time fly like anything..we went so may places...enjoyed a lot..we cooked food together...bcu i don't want her to put much strain on her hands...i will never forget this time in my life...it was most beautiful moment...my daughter also enjoyed lot..rest i dont know how to express my love and feelings...only one thing i know..she is the light of my life...i always tried to explain her..u r there with me this is the most important thing in my life...ur hair/MRM i dont care.....still nothing is wrong...god give us chance to live together..God is great...

  • So touching! I wish you and your wife endless love for a lifetime! It's so hard when we are making ends meet...but love bridges all the gaps, fills in all the spaces. God bless your family!

  • Beautiful posts that leave a feeling of tenderness....Shikha expresses it so beautifully...and it is the feeling that these posts evoke that we know the shallowness of material things....For me ...my family supported me by treating me just the way they had always done.My teenager daughter argued with me non stop...husband though there with me to the hospital trips mostly...was busy working...coz they never believed there was anything that was wrong with me that i cant cope with.Initially i took it as indifference but in hindsight i believe ...knowing the way i am...haf they treated me any differently i would have felt more vulnerable.So..I went to the radiations alone...and that gave me a sense of control...herclon was not a big deal to manage alone....but i know i have been in many peoples thoughts n prayers....and now it is my turn to give all that love back...there is a note i discovered written by my daughter that i would like to share...it is unedited and in her writing...so dont mind the language(she is a teenager after all)....and thanks for being there...love u all

    Hugs Richa

  • Lots of love to you too Richa!

  • Your response in the early days of my treatment n ur Story kept me inspired...love back to you dear

  • My mother got treated for the breast cancer around 8 years back. She never used a Prosthesis Breast and I was also not much aware about these things. Only recently I got to know these products are available in the market. When I discussed this with my father he said mom is refusing to use any of this kind of product because they didn't fit well.

    Than I discussed with my mother to use a prosthesis for her. But she said she can not use it as she is having a little swelling near of the treated area and it also pains lightly, so she avoids wearing the tight cloths. My mom goes for regular check ups as per the doctor's instructions, and everytime she mentioned this to the doctor but doctor is saying "It is fine. May be some air filled inside". She said she discussed this with other similar patients and they also agreed about having the same problem.

    Now I am really worried about this. Please suggest me if others are also having same problem and is it safe to use prosthesis in this condition ?

  • A beautiful sharing of emotions, all of you. I have no words. Cancer is one illness which strokes the emotions of the whole family. And it is this beautiful love which helps to over come the illness, more than anything else. I have seen both sides of the coin, in my patients - I have seen how familial love and support helps the survivor come out strong, and I have also seen, how, if there is lack of love on part of family and friends, it becomes very difficult to fight and come out.

  • Family support of all the loved ones & friends - apart from the treatment is the best way to help the patient come out of the tough time. This I myself have felt when I am alongwith my sister during the whole times

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