Meriam May on breast cancer

Experiences and Tips from a Breast Cancer survivor

We all sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we don't quite know how to respond or what to say to me. Very often it is when people are diagnosed with a terrible disease. You want to show compassion, but you don't know how and then you say the wrong things. Not only is Meriam May a courageous breast cancer survior, she is happy to explain how to provide support to those going through the miserable process. 

tips from Meriam

We all sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we don't quite know how to respond or what to say to me. Very often it is when people are diagnosed with a terrible disease. You want to show compassion, but you don't know how and then you say the wrong things. Not only is Meriam May a courageous breast cancer survior, she is happy to explain how to provide support to those going through the miserable process.

In general I have a fairly positive attitude, I try to look ahead more often and not dwell too long on what is not going well. This is not always easy and it is still hard work to maintain this setting. The spicy moments are, for example, the moments when I get news from a fellow sufferer with metastases. This reality hits me hard in the face and brings me back to my own vulnerability. Will it be this way for me too? A frequently heard response is: ‘You have to stay positive, you know’. And when I say I am, but also have a very realistic view of my life, of which cancer will always be a part, the response is not always good. I, yes I, assume that the cancer can always come back…now, in 6 months, maybe in 20 years. And that is precisely why I focus on the here and now and try to make the best of it every day.

I've been ‘forced’ to think about death for the past month. This because of the loss of my aunt and other people with whom I have had contact for a long or less long time. All lost the battle against cancer. On the positive side, death is a topic for me that I can easily talk about now. And the more I think about my mortality, the stronger I am in life. Of course, the fear of returning is still there. I have accepted that and I try to keep this fear in check in my own way. But that is not self-evident for many others, because did you know that:

- Many cancer patients suffer from PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and many cancer patients are terrified that the disease will come back. Those who suffer from PTSD sleep poorly, may become depressed, have obsessive thoughts about cancer and are constantly anxious. A year after diagnosis, at least half of the patients suffer from one or more of these symptoms. Many people also have the fear triggers, for example before or during periodic checkups, with reports about cancer in the media or with news about the death of fellow sufferers. Research shows that many women have an average of two anxiety triggers per month after diagnosis, and the anxiety can be just as intense as the anxiety during diagnosis and cancer treatment. 

I recognize myself in this and I also experience that fear. But this fear is nowhere near that first deep fear after my diagnosis. Fortunately, I found my way to reduce the anxiety. I do this mainly by seeking distraction. Anyone who has an inhibiting fear can benefit from seeking help from a psychologist or other counselor who can provide tools to deal with this hindering fear. The fear will probably always play a role, but you can influence the extent of this yourself.

- Are there lists of comments that you would rather not make when dealing with a cancer patient? All comments are certainly well-intentioned, but not always useful. The following comments I heard made my eyebrows shoot up or shoot up: ‘Don’t start with those doctors, I read about an alternative…†No, don’t..however well-intentioned ! The moment cancer strikes you, you will do everything to survive and you make your own personal choices. Please, don't crack this one! Rather show understanding for the choice made and do not try to convince the other person of the opposite. 
Another comment: ‘You look great (read: healthy), you must be glad it is over’. Yes, thanks and no, it's never over! I am forever a cancer patient and the annual checkups remind me that I will remain so. 
Also: ‘Oh dear, you have cancer! My niece/aunt/neighbor/ex-boyfriend also had it and died of it..†Well, I am of course very sorry and I mean it. But this sentence helps me, actually any cancer patient really not. Bring on those strong, beautiful stories of survivors. That offers us comfort! 

Or: ‘Hmm, what a mess. This must be terrible for you!†We don't want pity, nor are we pathetic. For me and many others I know, as crazy as that may sound, cancer has made the world a lot more positive. Yes really! A positive focus, a continuous smile on our face (or in our head) and we find a bright spot every day. No one can take that away from us, my dear friend Martijn van Sommelsdijck? Mi lobi yu â??¤ï¸??

Finally, check out the breast self-examination video from Innerwheel below. 
I'll give it up for this time.

Thanks my friends for reading and please: 
Enjoy & embrace life while you can!

Lobi
Meriam May