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Treating Breast Cancer Early

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SOCIAL VOICES
Breast Cancer: Embracing My Second Chance

Marissa Thomas_Breast Cancer Embracing My Second Chance

“If you had a second chance in life, what would you do?” This is the opening line to one of my favorite songs, called “Redemption.”

I heard this song for the first time on the way to a friend's funeral. This friend was Cristina, the angel who I met when I was in active breast cancer treatment. The sisterhood I developed with Cristina and multiple other women in the breast cancer community is something I will always cherish. When I heard this song on the way to her service, I felt like it was a sign from her, a reminder that I have a second chance. On the days when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or I’m being hard on myself, I’ll be reminded of this “second chance.” 

After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis, I was terrified. I was worried about what would happen to me and how I would get through it. Now that I’m in remission, I’m grateful to look back and know that part of my journey is behind me, and I try to stay focused on what’s ahead.

Living with breast cancer has taught me so much about what’s really important. It gave me a new perspective. I’m sure from time to time we all wonder, “If I could just go back and do it this way…” or “If I could turn the hands of time back….” But does that really change anything? Does that mean that I wouldn’t have received a diagnosis of breast cancer? Who knows! What I do know is that I’m choosing to live my life currently, in the moment, with little to no regrets, although I’m still a work in progress. 

Give yourself a chance

I also know that I’m a big champion of second chances. Some might say I’m too nice or I give a lot of grace to those who may not deserve it. But you know what, I’m okay with that. Because I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here today, in the place that I am, if it weren’t for a second chance at life. 

I’m thankful for my friends and family who watched me take missteps and decided to help me get up anyway. I’m blessed that my doctor decided to run the extra tests I asked for a while ago to double check the nodules in my lungs even though I had a major attitude during my visit. Despite how I came across, the doctor listened to me and gave me grace. The nodules turned out to be benign but the peace of mind was worth the effort. I’m grateful that every day, I chip away at the survivor’s guilt. It’s hard to watch friends not make it through the breast cancer experience we shared. After a lot of work, I have given myself a second chance to move forward on my terms by fulfilling my purpose in this crazy thing we call life. 

It’s easy for us to give others second chances, but when was the last time you gave yourself a second chance? Breast cancer has taught me that you can give yourself a second chance to live the life you want to live, or another opportunity to forgive yourself for that thing you’re beating yourself up about. I have given myself forgiveness for questioning everything surrounding my diagnosis and wondering if I made the right decisions. I’ve forgiven myself for thinking that I did something to "cause" my breast cancer. When I struggle, I remember that survivorship is a process and it happens day to day. Today might be easier than yesterday and that's okay. I remind myself that my experience and story will look different than anyone else’s. I focus on the fact that, on the days where I may not feel confident in the choices I've made, at least I am making them for me and only me. That's what second chances are about: you get another day to do it all over again.

As survivors, we yell and scream about giving others grace, but I’ve learned how freeing it is to extend that same grace to myself. Mistakes and missteps don’t define me. They prepare me to be better tomorrow.

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Medical Reviewer: Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 8
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.