In the past two years since One Wig Stand took off, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk to plenty of breast cancer survivors across the region. There’s a lot to learn from these strong women who continue to serve as our key driver to keep spreading awareness and providing support.
Some lessons we’ve learned, and that can truly be applied to any woman, include:
1. Know your body. Nothing can be more essential to your general well-being than listening to your body and any warning signs it gives you. That’s why medical professionals always advocate self-check exams (and we cannot stress its importance enough). At the end of the day, no matter what anyone tells you, only you can truly know if something is wrong so don’t be ashamed to get to know your body a little bit better. It’s amazing how perceptive our bodies can be.
2. Well-being is a lifestyle. A lot of the survivors we’ve met have opted for healthier lifestyles post-treatment including starting vegetarian diets, doing more physical exercise (yoga is a favorite) and removing all negative habits from their daily routines. That’s not to say that it will 100% guarantee you won’t develop cancer in the future as sometimes it’s genetic and exterior factors play a role, but nevertheless, a healthy lifestyle is always a bonus for your general well-being.
3. Eliminate stress and learn how to say “no”. Oftentimes it takes a drastic experience to realize that you’re under a lot of pressure and that you’re harboring unnecessary stress. We’ve heard time and time again how post-cancer, a lot of these women learned to listen to their inner selves better and be a bit more selfish in the most positive of ways. When you’re a hard-working mom, dedicated to your family or balancing a job, it’s easy to cave in to others’ needs above yours but you need to give yourself a break every now and then. Things that are obviously making you feel stressed and wearing your out can’t be healthy. Find a way to resolve it by either learning a more healthy way to adapt (meditation perhaps) or eliminating it altogether. Saying “no” can be the most freeing feeling in the world so don’t be afraid to say it when you know you should.
4. Prioritize. Another lesson we’ve also learned is the importance of prioritizing. Unfortunately, you only really learn the value of your family and friends during such trying periods, but you don’t need to go through that to realize that they should be getting more priority in your life. Give them their due attention and loving. Is it really necessary to work until midnight each night? We doubt it. Make time for the ones that love you most and use lesson #3 as a good incentive to say “no” when it conflicts with your true priorities.
5. Talk it out. We harbor alot of feelings inside ourselves and don’t let it out enough. Be honest with yourself and with others. Especially when it comes to breast cancer treatment, being able to voice what it is you feel with others is in itself a positive therapy. Taken into anyone’s life, the lesson here is communicate, communicate, communicate! If it’s something you’re feeling, chances are someone else is feeling or has felt something similar. This has encouraged me to always be honest and direct (in a constructive way of course) rather than build resentment or lie to myself.
6. Live more. Personally, this was something I came to realize through my loved one’s experience. I noticed a refreshing change in her attitude to life after her treatment. She wanted to pursue more diverse activities that interested her and travel more. It’s inspired me to this day to always keep my heart close to my life’s ambitions. Nothing makes you realize how valuable life is until you’re faced with such a life-threatening experience – whether directly or indirectly. If you’ve always wanted to do something, stop waiting and just go for it!
Do you have any lessons you’ve learned from an inspirational breast cancer survivor in your life? Please share with us and spread the love.