When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 37, I had no close friends who had been through cancer treatment. I felt alone. I felt like nobody on earth could know how I felt.
My friends are amazing, and, yet, they could not relate to what I was going through. Nobody can unless they go through it themselves or walk the treatment path with a close loved one.
Creating my own breast cancer support group
Once I started seeing an oncologist, I noticed that most of the people I saw at his office were older.
Then, as I was waiting on my first day of chemo
, a woman walked in with a young child. She was only 40. I chatted her up right quick, thinking, "Hey, you're young, you're bald! We have to be friends!" Luckily, she was thinking the same thing, and we exchanged horror stories and contact information.
Many friends tried to hook me up with other cancer survivor friends, but I resisted those connections most of the time. I felt like this was my journey, and I needed to find my own posse. Luckily, there were two exceptions to this, and the connections I made are invaluable to me.
I have now amassed a whole cancer posse, and I could not live without them. No question is too weird, no emotion is too scary, and no frustration too small to share with these women who have walked the path of breast cancer treatment.
We talk about reconstructed nipples and scar tissue and menopause and sex after cancer treatment. We talk a lot about long-termside effects of chemo, radiation, surgery and staring death in the face. We talk about these things because there is much to process. And because when you wake up in the night deathly afraid that the pain in your rib is bone metastasis and you don't sleep the rest of the night, those sisters will not think you are a crazy hypochondriac. They have been there.
Sharing my breast cancer journey
As my breast cancer treatment gets further in the rearview, the experience will probably grow dimmer. But I hope I always remember that I'm a survivor. And I think talking about it helps other people.
I have a new friend I met through breast cancer treatment. We would not be friends if I were not so outspoken about my own journey. She has gone all the way through chemo without a cancer posse and has lots of questions. When I answer, she is grateful for my honesty. Because it's important when you are going through treatment to realize that you are not alone.
This is why I always say: If you do not have at least one friend who has been diagnosed at some point in time with cancer, please, seek out a support group
. Or chat up your neighbor in the chemo chair. It could be the start of your own cancer posse.
Brandie Sellers teaches yoga, meditation, nutrition and cooking. She paints, writes, runs and plays with her children. She is a divorcee and two-time breast cancer survivor who's undergone a double mastectomy. Brandie is crazy about her three children, and is blessed with a slew of sister friends who pick her up when she's down, keep her honest with herself when she's full of it, and make her laugh until she cries. Follow her at simplelifeyoga.com.