Coming Back to Life After Breast Cancer

If you are newly diagnosed or going through surgery or cancer treatment,  I write this to give you encouragement.  If you are post-treatment, I write to have you nod your head and say, “Oh yes, I understand!”  And if you are not or have not been a Breast Cancer patient, perhaps I can inspire you to see every day happenings as amazing occurrences!

Each day I notice new things.  Most of these new things used to be old things that I took for granted.  Now, when I am able to do them again, my heart sings with gratitude.  The feelings are wonderful and marvelous!  Here are some of my favorites!

1)  Going to the library and checking out a novel.  Always a voracious reader, during breast cancer treatment I could only read things pertaining to breast cancer.  Novels no longer interested me, nor did any other kind of non-fiction reading. Partially, it was because my concentration levels were so low due to Chemo Brain.   What a magical day when I could read the first chapter of a novel, then on the same day, read a chapter in a travel book!

2)  Digging out a plant in my garden.  All during Chemo and Radiation, I did not have strength enough to do this.  Now I can go out, put the shovel in my hand, and transplant a flower!  Even having to wear a compression sleeve for Lymphedema, doesn’t dampen my joy!  And I planted pansies in September because I was not able to plant petunias in May!

3)  Going back to the doctor as a Cancer Survivor.  When I had my one month checkup with the Radiation Oncologist, the entire Radiation Department was thrilled to see me.  I was just as delighted to see them. There were hugs for everyone!   I realized how great I was now feeling and began to imagine my visits there in 6 months, 2 years, and 5 years!   What an amazing visualization!  My Radiation Technician said he so enjoys seeing his former patients as when he started his job 17 years ago, most everyone died.  Now, so many cancer patients survive, it is a real joy for him to see them and realize he contributed to their being alive!

4)  Singing a song.  I could not sing while I was going through cancer treatment.  I could not even turn on the radio nor could I listen to talk radio..  I caught myself jamming to some 1980s song driving down the street, singing along and moving my body!   It felt marvelous even though I was slighly off key!  I did not care!

5)  Using hair gel.  WOW, this really was the most exciting thing.   Since my favorite new hobby is rubbing my hands through my one inch post-chemo hair, last night I decided I could use a little hair gel and see what happens.  So I found this stuff in my hair care drawer, probably really old, called “Spike It”.  What fun it was to be able to put it in my hair and have my hair stick out all over my head!   What joy!  I know the words, “Bad hair day” will never come out of my mouth again!

6)  Preparing for winter now in the Midwest, I never thought being able to caulk around my garage door could bring such delight.  It needed to be done last year.  I was not able to do it then or do it this summer!  Today I did it with ease!

7)  Getting an exercise machine.  My friends were selling a Gazelle for $20.00 at their garage sale!  Sold – and they even delivered it.  I guarantee I won’t hang clothes on it as I am so thrilled to have the energy to maneuver it!

8)  And the biggest thing is learning new ways of doing things.  I got stuck in ruts always doing things the same way.  Now I am realizing what bothers me and what I don’t want to waste my time doing or finding new ways to do things.  Clarity comes quickly now!  For example, folding wash cloths.   I’ve probably spent weeks folding wash cloths in my lifetime.  I gave up folding during chemo as I didn’t have enough energy.  I put them in a basket unfolded, and it worked like a charm!  Why go back to folding?  Unnecessary!

Thanks for listening to my enthusiasm!  I hope it is contagious!



  1. Thank you, Denise. My 83 year old mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 BC in Aug 2012 since it had metastasized to spine t4 when they found it. She lives in TN while I am in So California. My brother lives near her. I felt so helpless & uninformed until I found your information. I am still reading and any suggestions for further education would be welcome.
    And how wonderful that you are again planting your beloved flowers. Marty

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