More Than A Diagnosis: How These Women Didn’t Let Breast Cancer Define Them

Fear — it’s one of the first things that someone newly diagnosed with cancer generally experiences. However, as Jillian McKee notes, it doesn’t have to be a feeling that overtakes or defines a patient’s entire life. Instead of giving into initial worries and accompanying depression, use the following advice to hold onto who you are as a person apart from the disease threatening to overwhelm you.

Discovering New Levels of Empathy

A blogger behind the site Breast Cancer Won’t Define Me points out that although she considered herself to be empathetic before her breast cancer diagnosis, the pain, fear and uncertainty brought out depths of empathy she never knew she had. She prefers not to dwell on her breast cancer treatment or spend much time speaking of it during day-to-day interactions with others. Instead, she prefers to focus on how she can help them overcome whatever difficulties they are experiencing. She finds that living the joys and complexities of life day by day as a mother, wife and friend to those around her puts her cancer diagnosis and treatment in perspective.


Redefining Career Goals

Instead of letting a bout with breast cancer define her, Sue Bowman used her diagnosis and treatment as a jumping off point for a more fulfilling career. Her desire to help others had already led her to become a nurse, but when she became a cancer patient, she realized she couldn’t find the right kind of professional help to meet her psychological needs. Instead of despairing, she returned to school for a degree in social work and now provides clinical support to other women with breast cancer.


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Recovery Through Music

Marcy Brenner credits her self-identity as a musician with helping her survive two bouts with breast cancer. Rather than succumb to the struggle, she decided to center her life around her music. She testifies that her music saved her life.

A diagnosis of breast cancer can be a devastating event, and because of the aggressive nature of the disease, it can overwhelm those involved. Looking beyond the details of treatment to the whole person within the breast cancer patient can be difficult, but as Angelo Merendino highlights in his step-by-step photographs of his wife Jennifer’s struggle with breast cancer, there is beauty in seeing the totality of the person shining through the struggle. Support the battle against cancer by donating to the Breast Cancer Site.

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