Jen’s Story – Anchored in Hope

My post went “live” on i Go Pink: The Breast Cancer Charities of America this week!  i Go Pink sent me a beauty bag filled with makeup and other makeup related items while I  was receiving chemotherapy.  Please read my post below!

Jen’s Story – Anchored In Hope

group-photo-dogs.png The Anchor has meant many things to me throughout various points in my life.  In college, I joined a sorority and our symbol was the Anchor. The Anchor was adopted by Delta Gamma in 1877 and stands for the age-old symbol of HOPE.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. I focused my energy on spreading HOPE and remaining positive throughout my cancer journey by starting a blog called Anchored In Hope.  Writing posts on my blog was a way for me to express myself and communicate to my support system. I was very fortunate to have such a strong support system that showered me with love and friendship throughout my treatment, and I wanted to be able to give that to others!

Cancer is disease that nobody wants to experience in their lifetime.  Everybody knows somebody that has been affected by cancer.  When YOU are the person diagnosed with cancer your outlook on life changes FOREVER.

I received my baseline mammogram and cancer diagnosis shortly after my close friend and college roommate was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age.  On Groundhog Day, February 2, 2017, my obstetrician-gynecologist told me the three words that you never want to hear “You have cancer.”  My husband and I just sat there in dismay.  I began to cry but not because I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I cried because I wanted to be a mom so badly.  My husband and I were trying to start a family and had been so far unsuccessful. Earlier, I had two miscarriages and found out that I had endometriosis. And now I knew that cancer treatments could result in infertility.

Telling my mom that I was diagnosed with breast cancer was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do.  She went to multiple appointments with me for further testing when I was told that my mammogram was abnormal, so when I told her I had breast cancer, she was not totally caught off guard.  There is not a handbook created that tells you how to handle your cancer diagnosis or how to tell people.  You must do what you feel comfortable with.

My dog, Maverick, could sense that something was wrong with me.  It amazes me how intuitive he is.  My husband took this picture the day I received my breast cancer diagnosis.

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I went to many doctors and received many opinions regarding my treatment plan.  I believed that the more information I received would help me choose the best treatment plan for me.  Treatment plans are not “one size fits all”.  My friend’s treatment plan was different than mine, even though we were going to the same facility to receive treatment.  We leaned on each other throughout our treatments which made our friendship stronger.

Navigating life after cancer has honestly been the toughest part of my journey.  Your calendar is no longer booked with various doctor’s appointments and treatment is not your main priority.  I enjoy having more free time, but it isn’t the same as it was before. I attend follow-up appointments and take medication to prevent cancer from reoccurring.  I am a totally different person than I was before my cancer diagnosis.  I have a different outlook on life and know how precious life is.  My HOPE is to remain cancer-free and to be a mom someday…

Anchored in HOPE,

JW

 

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10 Tips To Stomp Out Stress

10 Stress Tips

I am a guest blogger for the website Compassion that Compels.  Please read my post about 10 Tips to Stomp out Stress.  I enjoyed writing the post and I hope that it helps others faced with breast cancer.

“10 Tips to Stomp Out Stress”

BY JENNIFER WILSON

Battling cancer is a stressful time. If you’re not careful, the stress can become more overwhelming than the diagnosis. Managing your stress levels is an important priority throughout your cancer journey. You will have added stressors during this time that you did not have before. Here are some tips to help you stomp out that stress.

10 Tips to Stomp Out Stress

  1. Write things down. Your schedule will suddenly be overtaken with numerous doctor’s appointments, and it is important to know when they are. Put them into your phone calendar or write them in a planner. I created a shared calendar with my caregiver, so that he would know when my doctor’s appointments were scheduled. I also scheduled reminders for each appointment. In addition, I added work and social obligations to my calendar, so that I would know if there were scheduling conflicts.
  2. Pamper yourself. Self-care is very important during your cancer journey. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and it is important to take care of yourself. When I was going through chemotherapy and my body was aching, I would take a bubble bath with Epsom salt and a bath bomb. The Epsom salt eased my aching body and the bubbles helped me relax. Make time for a bath and go all out by lighting a candle and listening to peaceful music.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Chemotherapy can make your mouth very dry or even leave a strange metallic taste in your mouth.  Stay well-hydrated throughout chemotherapy by drinking water daily (add lemon for a little flavor!) I drank water with lemon out of my Compassion that Compels cupthroughout treatment. 
  4. Eat well. Maintaining a healthy diet is important although you may not feel like eating if treatment leaves you nauseous. Still, it is important to keep your energy up and fuel your body with good foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs.
  5. Get plenty of rest. Fighting cancer in addition to the demands of regular life can leave little room for rest, but it’s very important that you make the time. When I was receiving chemotherapy and working, I worked all day and rested in the evening, then went to bed early.
  6. Exercise. You don’t have to run a marathon, just do something light. Even a little exercise can help strengthen your body and restore your energy. I am sure if I had exercised during my treatment it would have helped me to not feel as tired.
  7. Accept help when it is offered.  Many people will offer to help you throughout your treatment, and you should take them up on their offers. My mother-in-law offered to go grocery shopping for me post-surgery, which was a big help. Someone may offer to babysit your children or bring you meals. Take advantage of these offers; it will give you some time to rest and heal.
  8. Talk to your boss about your treatment plan and what it entails. If you will need to miss work for doctor’s appointments, it is best to be open and upfront with your boss.  You and your boss may be able to work out a schedule that creates less stress for you. 
  9. Enjoy your life. Do something fun every day…call a friend, stop for your favorite treat, read your favorite book again, write in your journal, go for a walk. Your days are full of doctor’s appointments, treatment schedules, and taking care of your body. Don’t forget to do something that brings you joy in the midst of it all.
  10. Pray.  Be strong and courageous during your cancer journey and do not let stress get the best of you. Write out your prayers, or keep track of your prayer requests (and answers!) in your Compassion That Compels Prayer Journal. Remember, God is with you every day and He will help you manage your stress levels when you turn to Him through prayer. 

Express Yourself

CC-JournalingI am the featured blogger on the website Compassion the Compels!  Please check out this organization’s website and my post.  The blanket and journal in this picture are from Compassion that Compels!

“Express Yourself”

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During your cancer journey, you will experience many emotions. Journaling can be a powerful tool to channel your inner emotions. Being diagnosed with cancer is not something you can control, but you do have control when you write.

Processing my emotions through writing is something that has helped me throughout my breast cancer journey. I do not consider myself to be a “writer,” but it is something I have found I enjoy and is my therapy. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I told family members, close friends, and a few coworkers. Telling them in person was not easy, but I felt it was the best thing to do. I thought the best way to keep everybody informed was to write emails to my friends and family. Writing letters to my friends and family helped me process the information I received from my doctors.

The emails became too much for me to handle, and I kept adding new people to each letter that I wrote, so I decided to start writing a blog. I had never written a blog before and didn’t know where to start, but I felt it was something I needed to do to help others.  

My blog is my journal that I share with others. My Compassion that Compels custom journal is where I write my thoughts and feelings that I do not share with others. When I am journaling, I create a peaceful place by lighting a candle, drinking hot tea, and listening to peaceful music. A blank computer screen or a blank piece of paper can be intimidating, but once you start writing it gives you the freedom to say exactly what you are thinking and how you are feeling. Writing occurs on your time. You may write more some days than on other days depending on how you are feeling and what you have time for.  Your journal is a blank canvas for you and only you.

Journaling creates a positive outlet and offers you the opportunity for self-reflection and to connect with God. It offers you the stillness you need when your time has been taken over by treatments, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and life obligations. Journaling also offers you the opportunity to follow a path that offers light and hope and can lead you in the right direction when you are feeling lost. Create a quiet space and grab your journal and let your thoughts and emotions take over….

Anchored in Hope,

Jennifer

 

Custom Prayer Journal | Compassion That CompelsGet your Custom Prayer Journal from Compassion That Compels today, or donate one for a woman battling cancer!

Jennifer Wilson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas and a National Certified Counselor.  She is currently an elementary school counselor and lives happily in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two dogs. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, Jennifer received her baseline mammogram and cancer diagnosis shortly after a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same age.  You can read her story on her blog, Anchored in Hope and follow her on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest