BE INSPIRED

 

Finding Clarity In Quotes

 

Since I can remember, even back in my teens, I’ve always had a journal. I found journaling helpful in getting information out of my head and onto paper. It allowed me to see things more clearly, then address them. Over the years, I’ve also accumulated many quotes that have resonated with me — inspiring, encouraging, and motivating me at various periods during my lifetime. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, some of those quotes couldn’t have been more relevant and empowering.

Here I’ll share with you some of those quotes most meaningful too me that brought great comfort and my hope is for you too they will do the same.  Furthermore, for you, someone who may have been just diagnosed with breast cancer or maybe you know someone who has, that you will be encouraged to seek out and find YOUR special quotes that bring you inspiration, comfort and JOY.

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These are side notes that expand on topics and sometimes insights from influencers (messengers) who came into my life at just the right time to make a positive and essential impact on the choices I made.

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Be Open To All Messengers

 

An Unexpected Messenger

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It’s always been interesting to me how certain circumstances and people or who I call “messengers” present themselves in our lives at just the right time.  It was a meeting with a doctor, not one even practicing in the clinical area of breast health or cancer, someone who I had worked with, who inspired me and helped me to find the answers within myself — answers I had been not able to identify on my own.

For several months leading up to my having a mastectomy in June of 2015, I had tremendous anxiety and I was concerned about the length of the procedure already scheduled. I was terrified by the thought that maybe I wouldn’t wake up. Over my lifetime (of then 49 years), the only surgery I had ever had was an appendix removed laparoscopically 20 years prior. 

It was in that moment of meeting Dr. Lazzaro and his sharing the following words with me that I became aware of what I needed to do. I’m forever grateful for his time, encouragement, and words that positively impacted my life.

“Embrace the moment and let fear go; the ability to not let go holds us back.”

Dr. Richard Stephen Lazzaro, Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Northwell Health, Lenox Hill Hospital 

 

Embrace Serendipity

 A Chance Meeting

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Weeks before my first surgery in June of 2015, although I had done much research and had gotten second and third opinions, in my gut there was a sense of unease, a knowledge that something was still not right. I felt unsettled. In part, I identified it as I was still not sure if the type of reconstructive procedure that was scheduled was right for me.

As serendipity (or coincidence, fate, or whatever you want to call it) had it, I had held off my surgery until after my busy work season. During a chance meeting at the very last conference I managed, just weeks before my impending surgery, I saw a presentation by Dr. Ricki Pollycove. She was incredibly inspirational and knowledgeable, and I recall thinking, I simply must speak with her. There was something about her calm, confident presence that gave me a feeling of hope and possibility that she could help me find comfort and identify where that sense of unease was coming from. Not having time during the conference to speak with her, I reached out to her afterwards.  

 

It was during a wonderful conversation on the phone with Dr. Pollycove, and as if there were not 3,000 miles between us, she provided me guidance, comfort and let me know I was not alone as she shared with me the following words and I'm forever grateful for our "chance" meeting.

“Welcome to the sisterhood.”

Ricki Pollycove, MD, San Francisco Integrative Gynecology and Comprehensive & Networked Wellness Care For Women

 

Men Get Breast Cancer Too

 

Who Knew Men Get Breast Cancer?

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Growing up, one of my well-listened to bands was KISS. It was early on in my research I came across the story of Peter Criss. Initially, I was surprised but as I was speaking with more and more women and men I was becoming quickly aware that men get breast cancer too. Here’s a quote of his which highlights the importance of listening to your gut instinct and taking action.

“Don't sit around playing Mr. Tough Guy. Don't say it's going to go away.  It's important just go get checked out. It's not like you're going to lose your manhood.”

Peter Criss, American musician, co-founder, of the rock band Kiss

Check out his full story: Former KISS drummer: men get breast cancer too

 

You Have Choices

 

Don't Do Nothing!

 

In speaking to many women and men who I came to call my breast friends (those who shared their stories and unconditional love and support), I found some — like me — took immediate control of their diagnosis, while others were more reluctant. Maybe out of fear? Maybe out of embarrassment?  Maybe the perception, of losing their breast they may feel less of a woman? Or maybe they thought if they ignored it, it would just go away? Whatever the reason, they made their choice — and you will, too. We have choices.

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When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and sharing that with a childhood friend, she shared that her sister-in-law (a busy high-level executive in a stressful job) had a chronic backache for more than six months. My friend explained that to ease the discomfort, her sister-in-law took medications to ease the pain but it became unbearable. It was then that her sister-in-law went to the doctors to find that the back pain was from the breast cancer that metastasized (spread) into her spine and throughout her body. She had Stage 4 breast cancer. She passed away in August of 2017, just two years after I had my diagnosis.

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It was in my research that I came across most notably Angelina Jolie, who back in Spring of 2013 chose to have a double mastectomy. And later on, in March 2015, she chose to remove here ovaries and Fallopian tubes. What made her story so unique is she chose to do this while having no diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer. But she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene and lost her mother at a young age of 56 to ovarian cancer, which put her at very high risk of getting both forms of the disease. Clearly, Ms. Jolie made her choice and was taking no chances "to wait and see".

Her story was greatly empowering and inspiring. However, I came across numerous articles that surprised and frankly angered me, because they were critical of her decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy, removing both her breasts, as a preventative measure to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer. Remember, while we may have great doctors, amazing breast friends and others guiding us it is ultimately OUR CHOICE.

I came across this quote by Ms. Jolie and here I share it with you:
 

I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”

Angelina Jolie, an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian

Check out her full story: My Medical Choice

No doubt this is a difficult decision for any women. She chose life and her family over her breasts. While I would never judge an individuals decision as to what they think is the best course of action for them, I feel compelled to note the obvious: we are not our breasts! Is a breast worth possibly giving up your life? While society may put a lot of pressure on us as a women to look a certain way, we must not place that pressure on ourselves. And by the way, with the incredible advancements of breast reconstruction and areola tattoos (check out the tattoo video under the Resources tab) - reconstructed breasts look great!

 

Seek Inspiration

Sharing A Few More Favorite Quotes

 

While I have many quotes that inspired me here’s a few which may be relevant and resonate and inspire you.

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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

— Viktor E. Frankl

Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor

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“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

American political figure, diplomat and activist

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“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”

— Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies and author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying

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“We need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.”

— Shakti Gawain

New Age and personal development author

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“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

—Edith Wharton

American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and designer

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

— Mahatma Gandhi

Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule