I have not posted for a while but I have been reading many posts and commenting occasionally. Just over two years since my original diagnosis and so much has changed. I have changed, physically and emotionally and although looking back it has gone quickly it seems like it has been such a long road.
Having said that I am happy with my choices, my decisions and my outcomes.
One thing I learned very early is that we are all so different.....
Our diagnosis, our treatment, our choices, our healthcare professionals, our options, our responses, our situation, our recovery. All of those elements will impact how we feel in any given situation and how we react.
I am particularly aware in my situation I can be over sensitive when a particular topic arises, and I am sure we have all had that thought "you have not been there so you just don't get it".... That is why this online forum is so powerful - the knowledge that when you are feeling fragile or vulnerable or just plain angry you can find a like minded soul who "gets it".
I also acknowledge that although we share some common ground, by the nature of this disease and all the variables that contribute to our unique diagnosis, treatment and options there are a lot of differences and we need to make choices - what suits one person will not suit another and that is ok - we all need to make choices based on our unique situation and circumstances - we are all entitled to make that informed decision based on all available information. We all do the research and seek information and make the best decision that is right for us at the time.
This online forum is evidence that there are a wide variety of special interest topics that we may use occasionally, often or not at all - it is our choice and it is great that these targeted groups exist both here and in other locations to support the wide variety of topics that need support and resources along the road. They are by their nature targeted to a specific topic and cannot be all things to all people - mostly they are provided by volunteers who want to give some thing back and feel passionately about a specific topic or to fill a gap that was not met when they were undergoing treatment.
I support every woman's right to make her own choice, access information and seek the support she needs while she navigates this often complex and unique disease in addition to the complex and confusing range of options and choices. I will share my experience and encourage her to make the right choice for her.
This is a very personal and emotional path and I can only comment on my own situation as I have no understanding of others unique situation and cannot pass judgement.
In my reflections I have also come to the conclusion that it is extremely difficult for Drs we are all so different, have different needs and expectations. Mostly our impressions are formed within the first 10 minutes of meeting our specialist and we are expecting them to have all the answers and know exactly what we need or want... I suspect dealing with us when we are at our most fragile and vulnerable is probably very challenging is it easier to blame them if they don't get it right?
In this environment, I think we need to take care about making assumptions or generalizations, as there are so many points of view and they are all valid. We need to acknowledge that what is right for one person is not right for another and support all opportunities for information gathering and supporting each other even if it is not something we personally agree with or need.
I opted for reconstruction - it was right for me and I am happy with my choice, it was not cosmetic surgery. It was not about vanity. My breasts do not define me as a woman. It was my choice and it suited me and that is all that matters.
I encourage all women to research multiple sources, and seek medical professionals advice to assess the best treatment option for them - that is the best approach. It is irrelevant what you choose as long as you make the right choice for YOU and your situation. You should not feel guilty about your choice or feel like you have to justify your choice or explain your choice to anyone.
Just as this disease is not a one size fits all, support groups cannot be all things to all people so you may need to target specific elements of your support needs or information needs to multiple areas, just as the variety of health professionals we deal with focus on different elements of treatment.
Sometimes we can be so consumed by this disease it's all we think about, all we talk about all we dream about....
Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, laugh at yourself, take time to smell the roses and make time to think about things other than cancer - go and have some fun and pretend it does not exist occasionally - it's good for your sanity
Hugs to all