“You have breast cancer!” The words ‘breast cancer’ kept resonating through my mind. Breast cancer! But I don’t feel sick, I feel really healthy, how can I have breast cancer I kept thinking.
My husband Mark was sitting next to me in Dr Lisa Creighton’s office and we both just looked at each other without saying a word. I don’t really remember much of what Lisa said after that, as I tried to get a handle on, and process what she was saying.
Mark then got up and had to go and lay down on the couch because he was feeling so sick. How can we both have cancer I thought. Mark my amazing husband, had been diagnosed with bowel cancer two months earlier.
On the drive home, I looked over at Mark. His eyes were closed, and I wondered what thoughts he had running through his mind.
That afternoon, the look of shock on my teenage boys faces said it all. They could see how sick Mark was from his chemotherapy, so I could understand why they felt so concerned.
I was looking forward to having my lumpectomy. “This is going to be good. Dr Creighton will cut the lump out and off I go” I kept reassuring myself. But that wasn’t to be the case.
As I sat in Lisa’s office the following week, she read out my biopsy result. Invasive lobular breast cancer – Grade 2. HER2 negative. Oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor positive. Operation report read: – Left breast lesion – extensive and complicated findings. All tissue quite suspicious. Specimen 1 – 78mm. Specimen 2: 45mm. Specimen 3 – 15mm. Specimen 4 – 12mm. Margins all suspect. One of two lymph nodes contain metastatic carcinoma.
Dr Creighton didn’t just cut out the one lump that I could feel. She in fact, discovered three more. So, the lumpectomy wasn’t going to be the end of it as I had previously anticipated.
The following week I was sitting in Dr Michelle Morris’s Oncologist office, the same Oncologist who was treating my husband Mark for his bowel cancer. I tried to focus as Dr Morris explained my treatment plan for the coming months.
What followed was five months of chemotherapy that had me bed ridden for days after each treatment during the first two months. I was going fortnightly for the first two months, then weekly for the following three months. In the first two months, I would need to have a needle in my belly the next day to stop me from feeling nauseous, which Mark would lovingly do for me. Before my third treatment of chemotherapy, I went and had my hair shaved off as my long dark hair was falling out in huge clumps at a time.
By the end of the five months of chemotherapy, I had no hair, no eyelashes and no eyebrows. Fortunately, the chemo nurses suggested I get my eyebrows tattooed before they completely fell out, and I am so glad I did. My veins had become so hard in my right arm, the nurses were having trouble getting my cannula in. I had a blood clot form from where the cannula went in each week, that went up to my shoulder. Throughout that time, I also developed mouth ulcers, some of my toenails had gone black and fallen off and every now and again, I felt pins and needles in my feet.
Two weeks after I had completed my five months of chemotherapy, I was in Buderim Private Hospital having a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Eight hours in total as Dr Lisa Creighton completed my double mastectomy and Dr Grant Fraser-Kirk performed my reconstruction.
Everyone at this stage was in lockdown due to COVID, so I wasn’t allowed any visitors for the five days I was there. I will always remember waking up the next day from surgery and bursting into tears.
I wasn’t crying from the pain of what I had been through up until this point. I wasn’t crying because of the pain of surgery, nor was I crying from having to have had a double mastectomy. I was crying from the indescribable pain of losing my amazing husband Mark to bowel cancer a few months earlier and the pain of realising that this day was actually our wedding anniversary.
Two months later, under the guidance of my radiation Oncologist Dr Debra Furness, I commenced my twenty-five sessions of radiation. Along the way I ensured I undertook a lymphoedema test with Jenny McKenzie from The McKenzie Clinic so we could track where I was at in case off this occurring down the track. And because I am on oestrogen blockers for ten years, I also had a bone density test.
Breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment can be emotionally challenging for both the patient and their family. And with all the necessity of focusing on the treatment process, appointments and allowing time to rest and heal, we more often than not, overlook an incredibly important part of our journey. And that is our mindset.
So many people would ask me and still ask me “How did you cope with all of this? How did you manage? How did you not crumble?” Well in fact, there were many times I would just want to stay in bed and cry all day. There were many times that I would feel extremely sad. There were many times that I lost sight of the big picture.
But I knew from my 20 years of working as a Mindset Coach and being a Clinical Hypnotherapist, the importance attitude plays in our daily lives. I knew that keeping my mindset strong was crucial on my journey to health and recovery. I knew that emotions are healthy to express and some days I would express all of my emotions in just one sentence. I also knew though, that staying in a negative or unhelpful emotion for too long was not going to benefit me in my healing. I knew that I had to shift out of a negative emotion or thought after awhile, if I was truly focused on my mental, emotional and physical healing and wellbeing.
So, I listened to hypnotherapy recordings while I was having my chemotherapy. I would listen to them on the many nights that I couldn’t sleep to quieten my mind and whenever I was feeling really down and wanted to change my thoughts. Hypnotherapy worked for me, and I know it will work for you as well.
What you will achieve on your hypnotherapy journey with me: –