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One day during my chemo treatments, I stopped on the way home from work to pick up some groceries for supper. It was summer, my wig was hot, I felt lopsided, and I was tired from the long drive as well as the side effects. Inside the cool, clean grocery store, people were pushing carts around and filling baskets with items for their families. Upbeat music was playing, young families were strolling, and I suddenly felt angry. Very angry and very resentful. I felt like the only person in there who had to deal with breast cancer.
Please know that I'm not proud of this sudden blast of anger and I don't suggest it as emotional therapy. It just jumped on me in a time of self-pity and blindsided me. I suddenly found myself mad at God. Why didn't God - who is supposed to love me - not prevent this cancer and all that had come with it? Then my Evil Twin started up, "You didn't deserve this - that other lady should have cancer instead of you! After all she's not taking good care of herself." The Other Lady was walking with her back to me, and when she turned to speak to her husband, I saw her tiny daughter riding in the cart. Hot tears came up and I turned away. No kids for me, just chemo. But if the Other Lady had to deal with cancer treatments, how hard it would be on her family!
My heart moved from anger to blame and then to shame. But having that moment of anger was actually good for me. Even after a mastectomy and heavy-duty chemo, I still didn't really believe that I had breast cancer. I had grieved when receiving my diagnosis, but hadn't moved on from denial. Having that fit of anger pushed me to accept my situation and allowed me to break through, to make progress with some of the loss that having cancer brings.
If you're dealing with breast cancer, whether in treatment or post-treatment, it is okay to be angry. There's nothing fair or reasonable about having cancer. When the anger comes up, feel it, then figure out where it should go. Don't remain in anger - pass through it and accept it. Anger should not become a lifestyle. Nobody needs the stress that maintaining a constant level of anger will create. Have your anger, accept it as normal, and deal with the sadness that may follow. Seek help if you get stuck in depression - that's also normal with breast cancer. Your diagnosis does not define you - the cancer does not own you. Choose to heal on many levels, with help and support.
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