As a breast cancer patient and survivor, do you feel guilty on the days you feel sorry for yourself or when you have a pity party? I know I do. Usually, I bring solace to myself by saying, “Oh, at least you are alive” or “So many people have it so much worse than you do, then I let those individuals flash through my mind.” Plus, I say, “Denise, you are supposed to be a role model and an inspiration, get over it.”
Recently, my mom, sister and I went away for the weekend to a place we used to frequent before my breast cancer diagnosis 2 years ago. This was my first time back. When we got to the hotel, it hit me what a different person I was now than the last time I had been there. I felt very sad, but gave myself my usual “don’t feel sorry for yourself” pep talk.
After a busy day, back in the hotel room, my sister looked at me with much compassion and said, “You have so much to handle and go through.” I started to cry. It was the first time someone actually witnessed me for a 24 hour period since diagnosis. My sister had been observing me quietly. She witnessed the hassle of my breast prosthesis, the 16 pills and supplements I have to ingest, the Lymphedema compression garment struggles and the countless and constant limitations Lymphedema causes, the food allergies that I now have including gluten and dairy that developed during chemo, my heart issues, and the excruciating joint pain I have on most days from Arimidex. (Thanks for listening!) Her compassion and observations rather than a quick “You look good” made me realize it isn’t my imagination that I do indeed have much to deal with that prior to breast cancer I did not.
After I got home, I pondered it all. An idea popped into my mind. On Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, people eat, drink and be merry because they are facing fasting and abstinence. So I decided I was going to have a customized Fat Tuesday of my own and allow myself to complain as much as I wanted within a 2 hour period – no more no less. Then I would be back on abstinence from complaining.
So I complained up a storm, felt sorry for myself, got angry, and had a solo pity party. Honestly, it felt good to release some of the pent-up frustration and breast cancer toxins. After the 2 hours, I went back to thinking, “I am well” and expressing that sentiment to others when asked.
Something happened that I wasn’t expecting. I felt energized in a new way. Giving myself compassion and allowing myself to complain about the realities helped move me forward and accept yet again that things aren’t the way they used to be. New ideas, dreams and goals have come to me over the past week after I experienced this catharsis.
I would encourage you to give yourself a window of opportunity to allow yourself to feel the pain, anger and frustration of breast cancer. It will help propel you to a new place! And if you are not a breast cancer patient but dealing with absolutely anything, try this. It will help!