Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
(#22 in a series)
“I seize the day much more than I did before, says triple-negative breast cancer survivor Meagan Farrell. “Each day feels like a blessing, so I make the most of it. I’m also much better about letting go of the little stuff. I let things roll off much more easily now as I realize how precious and short life is, and that in the end, most of it really doesn’t matter anyway.”
When she woke up in the middle of the night with a pinching in her chest, Meagan had a “gut feeling” that it was something bad and immediately suspected breast cancer. She’d never felt a lump in her breast before, and it was frighteningly large. She visited her doctor the very next morning.
Tests revealed a very fast-growing tumor. As for triple-negative breast cancer, she’d never heard of it. There are a few instances of cancer in her very large family tree, but no breast cancer. With a daughter and two nieces, she was relieved to learn that she tested negative for the BRCA gene. (The risk of breast or ovarian cancer is greatly increased in women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. Men with these gene mutations also are at increased risk of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.)
This aggressive cancer prompted an aggressive response. Her treatment included a double mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and six weeks of radiation, and now she’s looking forward to breast reconstruction. She also used acupuncture therapy to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy.
With treatment behind her, Megan is paying more attention to her diet. “I’m eating more fruits and veggies. I was always a healthy eater, but I’ve taken it to a new level — I realize that my healthy body is the most important thing.”
“Keep the negative out of your life.”
Meagan says the worst part is waiting for the test results. “Once you get your plan, you can focus on that instead of wondering. Also, keep the negative out of your life. Put a bubble around you and your family and don’t let any negativity in. You need only positive around you during this time. Love and support only.”
So how did she manage to keep negativity out and positivity in? “You have to focus on you and your health.” She steered clear of people who sapped her energy, focusing instead on the “awesome people who would come over, cheer me on, pitch in to help, etc. I focused on them and gave them full access.”
She also avoided support groups and online chat rooms. “I had no energy to support others who were really down and out. I had to focus on me. I know this sounds selfish, but I had to focus on my wellness. I met a woman in cancer patient yoga who had a similar diagnosis and was really freaking out that she might die. I tried to lift her up, but she was just really freaked, so I had to stop going to yoga, as she would latch on and need to vent. I couldn’t let my mind go there. It was a war between me and cancer and I had to focus on my goal and my victory.”
“We try to give back.”
With a good health insurance plan in place, Meagan has a lot of empathy for those who don’t. That’s why she participates in the annual Strides Against Breast Cancer walk held by the Everett Cancer Partnership, raising money to assist people who cannot afford treatment. “We understand what a horrid hardship this would be for anyone without health care, so we try to give back.”
Although she had to slow down during treatment, 42 year-old Meagan is going full throttle working as a professional organizer. Here’s a woman who let go of the little stuff in order to get well, and spends her days organizing the big stuff for others. Clearing the clutter in your mind and clearing the clutter in your home — cancer or not, that sounds like a recipe for better days to come.
Meagan gratefully acknowledges the Breast Center and the Cancer Center in Everett, Washington, both of which she calls “amazing!” She also feels blessed to have had the support of her husband, daughter, family, and friends. The future is looking good.
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Series
#1 The Lump in my Breast: Meeting the Enemy
#2 Most Breast Lumps are Non-Cancerous: Would mine be?
#3 The Mammogram, the Ultrasound, and ‘the Look’
#4 The Biopsy and Breast Cancer Confirmation
#5 A New Twist: It’s Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
#6 Before the Mastectomy: Planning for the Future
#7 Mastectomy Day: What it’s like to lose a breast
#8 After the Mastectomy: Unveiling and Staging
#9 10 Odd Things to Say to Someone with Breast Cancer
#10 Cancer Battle Plan Phase 2: Chemotherapy
#11 5 Things I Love About my Very Expensive Health Insurance
#12 10 Simple Gestures of Kindness with Healing Power
#13 Half a Year on Chemotherapy and Taking Nothing for Granted
#14 Breast Cancer Treatment: Weighing Reward and Risk
#15 The Radiation Decision, The Long Road, The Badge of Honor
#16 The Healing Power of Nurses
#17 Grieving Son Recounts Mom’s Battle with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
#18 Searching for “Normal” After Cancer
#19 “Did You Beat Cancer?” they want to know
#20 5 Things About Breast Cancer You Should Take to Heart
#21 Living with a Grateful Vibration
Access all posts in the Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Series
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