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Kathy’s Story (Breast Cancer)

kathys-story-breast-cancerI remember the day like it was yesterday, June 10, 2014. A day that came on the heels of having gone through 6 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, my husband telling me he wanted a divorce and my mother passing away. All within eight months. It was the day that I decided that I was going to end my life. I know that is hard to hear and even harder to say, but no one tells you how hard the journey will be, at least not in the beginning. Yes, they tell you that it sucks, sure, but it’s hard to grasp the impact that it will have on your life, both physically and mentally.

When you are first diagnosed, you scour the internet for whatever feel good motivational story you can get a hold of to prepare yourself for your ultimate triumph. However, often times the mental anguish that occurs after treatment stops and you start to pick up the pieces of your life is not mentioned. You begin to think that you are crazy because everyone else seems to have moved on, leaving you to ask yourself, Am I the only one feeling this way? There must be something wrong with me. I don’t know why I can’t seem to get my sh*t together and get back to normal!

This was me 6 years ago.

I had been bombarded by some of the most devastating news that anyone could ever receive, and most people would never experience. “You have cancer!”, “I want a divorce!”, “Your mother passed away!”

I was 38 years old; I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer with a 40% chance of beating it. I had been through 6 rounds of chemo and several surgeries including a double mastectomy, and I still had a long road ahead of me. My physical attributes, that I felt made me a woman, were gone and my self-esteem was non-existent. The chemo made me lose not only my hair, but my ability to have children. My marriage was ending, and I just lost my best friend. My dreams were shattered and when I thought about a future, I felt like I was staring into a dark abyss. I was convinced that I was worthless and that I was nothing more than a burden and everyone in my life would be better off without me. I was convinced I was invisible to the world and that no one would even notice I was gone.

It is hard to put into words the pain that one feels when they are struggling with taking their own life. I admit that I used to be one of those people that would hear a story of someone who had attempted or succeeded in taking their life and would think, How in the world can life get so bad that you would want to take your own life? Well, now I know. It’s a moment when all you want is to be free. Free from being tormented by your own thoughts. You just want a moment where you aren’t drowning in turmoil. A moment where everything feels calm. A moment where you can just breathe.

I was in excruciating pain, both physically and mentally. I was screaming at God at the top of my lungs; I was angry; I was in pain and I was exhausted. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed that night with my pills in my hand thinking that all of this could be over if I just swallow the pills. I could fall asleep and never wake up again. It would be so nice. I took one and swallowed it, still looking at the others sitting in my hand. Next, I heard a subtle, but distinct voice, “I need you, without you, my place setting would be incomplete.” God was telling me that I was valuable and needed, but I still didn’t believe it. I took the pills and prayed for my life to end and to not wake up in the morning. Then I woke up. It was then that I asked God to take my life, because I couldn’t do it, and that is exactly what he did.

With each passing day, I slowly started thinking more and more about what was important to me, who is it that I wanted to become and who is it that God needed me to be. I started to change the blueprint of how I thought about life, myself, and my future. I replaced old bad habits with new healthier habits. I set up an action plan to achieve my goals. I learned to manage my energy and my environment and dug deep to find this woman, this better version of me that I needed to show up in my life.

I started to realize that all the physical attributes that I thought made me the woman I was, pale in comparison to all the attributes that make me the woman I am today. Today, I finally feel free! Free of my self-limiting beliefs; free of others’ opinions of me determining my self-worth; free of trying to please everyone rather than trying to please myself. I am finally free of living in the past and dwelling on a future that may or may not turn out the way I would have hoped. I am here living fully in the present. I am here with a renewed purpose and passion to help others that feel trapped by their own demons. To give them hope beyond their circumstances because I am living proof that whatever they are feeling right now, is only temporary. A better life is on the horizon.

So, if you find yourself with these thoughts of hopelessness, I want you to remember that you are not alone and to also remember the number ONE. Remembering the number one encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and reminds me that I am stronger than I think. Here is why the number one is so important:

• Just give me ONE more try. This is what my doctor kept saying to me every time I wanted to quit and what I believe God is telling you if you are willing to hear it
• Take ONE day at a time. If you live in the past it will haunt you, and the future hasn’t happened yet.
• You have ONE life to live and it IS a life worth living, make it count.

Submitted 07/04/2020

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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