If you are familiar with the work of Andrew Lloyd Weber, then you are probably familiar with his musical, Aspects of Love. One of the biggest songs to come out of this venture is, “Love Changes Everything” by Don Black and Charles Hart.  As I was playing this today, I changed the lyrics a tad to see where it would take me. This is where I landed.

Cancer, changes every thing:   hands and faces, earth and sky.

  Breast cancer, changes everything:  how you live and how you die.

  Cancer can make the summer fly or a night seem like a lifetime.

  Yes breast cancer, changes everything:  Now I tremble at your name.

  Nothing in the world will ever be the same.

  Off into the world we go; planning futures, shaping years.

  Cancer bursts in and suddenly, all our wisdom disappears.

  Cancer makes fools of everyone; all the rules we make are broken.

  Yes, breast cancer changes everyone; live or perish in its’ flame.

  Cancer will never let you be the same.

  Cancer will never, never let you be the same.

Those who have battled “the beast” will tell you breast cancer is a life changer.  We are told that as we transition out of treatment (assuming that is possible), it is now time to define a new normal.  For some, that may mean settling.

A bout with breast cancer does not mean I will die of breast cancer.  It may or may not rear its ugly head again.  Medicine is a soft science and no one knows for sure.  One would think by now, this disease would be better understood.

I have a good friend who has Stage IV breast cancer.  She told me last night that her fingernails are beginning to grow back.  No hair, no eyebrows, no fingernails nor toenails and only one breast.  This is part of her new normal.  As it stands now, my friend’s life is ephemeral as there is no cure for Stage IV.

The diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer is unpleasant regardless of what stage it is at.  This is just the beginning.  This may be where the change begins but it is not where the change ends.

Basically, we have two choices.  We can hide under the covers or in the corner waiting for breast cancer to envelop us.  Our essence and spirit can wither away to nothingness.  Or, we can grab life by the balls and go for the gusto.  We can take risks, make changes we have always wanted to make, and not care what others think.   Having breast cancer does not necessarily mean we are relegated to a live that is fragile.

We can take breast cancer and incorporate a healthier style of living.  Healthy nutrition, exercise, meditation for stress reduction are some ways we can enhance our life.  We can engage in purposeful hobbies by spending our free time doing things that make us happy.

Breast cancer can empower our spirit if we let it.  It is a golden opportunity to let go of that which is toxic in our life.  Once the negativity has been removed, we can surround ourselves with nutritious people.

Most likely cancer will never, never let us be the same.  It is our choice as to if  we will let it grow us, define us, or devour us.
















4 Responses

  1. Wendy, this captures the experience of a metastatic breast cancer patient very well. We grow accustomed to the uncertainty, steeled against the constant probing and pain, and ever-aware that once this day ends, it’s one less that we may not have fully used or appreciated. It’s a definite game-changer; but we do still have choices, and sometimes we forget that when so many choices are no longer ours. Thank you for putting words to our experience.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Vera. As cancer patients, we have a golden opportunity to teach others about living.

  2. One of my all time favorite musicals is ‘Phantom of the Opera’ , Your rendition of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s song is a perfect way to express your method of healing your soul after going through a very difficult and frightening diagnosis. Your blog helps others who have gotten the same news, realize that they are not alone and there is hope, and also, someone out there who truly understands and cares. Keep up the good work.

    1. Jeanne, thank you for your kind words. As a nurse, I know you appreciate alternative methods of healing.