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Welcome to the WhereWeGoNow Community!

Welcome to the WhereWeGoNow Community!

on Sun, 09/25/2011 - 14:39

I'm so glad you're here! If you're like me, you remember the moment you went from blissful ignorance, to concentrating your entire being on beating cancer. You faced the diagnostic process, involving scary, painful testing. You pushed through to treatment, terrified to submit to surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, but courageously faced what needed to be done.

Now, after that crazy time of tests, doctors, treatments, hospitalizations, chemo sessions, etc., we stand on the other side and ask ourselves – Where do we go now? 

Welcome to that place. At WhereWeGoNow you are never alone as you work through difficult emotions (survivor's guiltanger, grief, loneliness, stress, just to name a few) and explore your new life beyond cancer.

Together we encourage, motivate and celebrate each other as we create inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy! Here's to thriving after cancer!

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Reflections on My Five Year Cancerversary

April 15, 2009; the day of my mastectomy and first reconstructive surgery. It's also the day I consider my cancerversary, which makes this April 15th my fifth. 

Why did April 15th become my cancerversary? Why not the day I was diagnosed? Or the day of my second surgery and the end of treatment (except for the taxomifen I continue to take?)

I think April 15th stands out in my mind because it was the day I was forced to show up and fully become a cancer patient and, eventually, a survivor.

For the prior six and a half months, I wasn't even sure I was a breast cancer patient. I didn't have a lump, wasn't rushed into surgery, and had no chemotherapy or radiation. I was free-floating, with no center to my cancer universe.

Finally, I was forced to show up very early in the morning to face what scared me the most: loss, vulnerability, and completely handing my body over to the unknown.

But I also remember the trust, in myself and my doctors, which got me there.   

On April 15, 2009, I laid my body down and submitted to a surgery I didn't want. But that was also the day I entered the cocoon of support I found at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. That day made possible my keynote speech at the recent Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 5th Annual Blood Conference. As I shared at the conference and in my first book, You Can Thrive After Treatment, showing up to be supported is the first and most important simple secret to creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy, because it made every other healing step I took possible.   

2009 was one of the two worst years of my life. (The other contender is 1984, but that's a story for another day.) As bad as it was, 2009 was also the year I started putting one foot in front of the other to get to today. I see the progress, and the struggles, as I read over the posts I wrote in years two, three and four: 

Happy Anniversary! Today I Celebrate Two Years of Healing from Cancer

Mindful Monday - Reflections On My Third Year Cancerversary

Reflections on My Fourth Year Cancerversary

I wish I had written something on year one, but I wasn't up to it then. Just another indicator of how far I've come. The truth is, however, that cancer isn't a straight-line experience. There are bad days, bad years and traumatic experiences which unleash the holy hell of cancer all over again. I've learned that it really is all about putting one foot in front of the other (when possible) and being kind to yourself when you just want to fall in a heap and have a good cry. And I've also learned, from my own experience and that of my friends that, just because I finally hit five years, this whole cancer thing isn't over by a long shot.

Even so, today is a good day. I'm mindful that five years cancer free is something to celebrate and my husband and I will be doing just that during our yearly dinner out (he didn't have time for lunch this year.)  

Every day, every year, for the rest of my life. It's okay to be wherever you are and it's all part of healing.

Much love and healing to you,


Comments

Marie's picture

The five year mark is a big milestone Debbie. I remember how it felt for me to reach this day too and now I am heading for five more this year. You've come a long way on this journey and it is a joy to watch you blossom and grow.

Debbie's picture

Hello Marie:

Thank you so much and congratulations to you too! Ten years is a huge milestone! I'm so grateful for every new opportunity to grow and surround myself with wonderful cancer sisters like you.

Love,

Debbie 

Claudia Schmidt's picture

Debbie,
Congratulations on 5 years out. It was so wonderful to meet you in person, I can't believe how long we talked! Your site is so inspiring, as is all that you're doing to help others with breast cancer.

I can certainly relate to your comment about cancer not being a straight line experience. It's like a roller coaster ride (without any of the fun). Have a great dinner with your husband!

Debbie's picture

Hi Claudia:

I'm so glad we finally got to meet (now that blizzard season is safely behind us!) I'm amazed too that we sat and talked for three hours - and I enjoyed every minute! Thanks so much for the best wishes and for joining me on this roller coaster ride.

Debbie

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Available Now! Breast Cancer Survivor Secrets - Emerge From The Fire

I promised I'd let you know when the second edition of the Survivor Secrets guides was out. Well, here it is!
 
The new guide is called "Breast Cancer Survivor Secrets - Emerge From The Fire." I'm one of 20 women who share strategies, tools, secrets and insights to empower your life as a cancer survivor. I'm so proud to join these inspirational, amazing women. They have such grace and so much to share!  
 
Just like the first guide, each woman answers one question: "What do you wish you had known when you were finished treatment for breast cancer?"
 
Our answers touch on all areas of survivorship, including: 
 
Strategies For Renewed Intimacy After Breast Cancer 
Vitality Comes From Your Lifestyle Choices 
Living Mindfully Helps You Let Go Of Who You Were, So That You Can Embrace Who You Are 
A Peer Can Support You In Those Moments When You Feel Most Alone 
Survivorship Is Hard Too 
Integrating Connection Through A Personalized Game Plan For A Healthy Life 
 
My chapter is entitled: One-on-One Support Can Help You Reclaim Your Life Effectively. Ironically, it was that very one-on-one support that helped me create the community I have today. Make sure to check it out.
 
Download your free copy of the guide here. If you missed the first eGuide, make sure to pick up your free copy here.
 
Once again, I am amazed at how the simple act of sharing our stories helps heal ourselves and our fellow cancer survivors. How would you answer the question: "What do you wish you had known when you were finished treatment for breast cancer?" Let me know below in the comments.
 
Survival > Existence,
 


Comments

Emma Mottram's picture

Hi, I have watched my best friend from the day she found her breast cancer lump (stage 3 triple negative) to the day she was declared cancer free. She took a different path to the usual and went to Ecuador for treatment with essential oil injections, vitamin c IV, spiritual and emotional healing, extreme diet changes, massive amounts of fresh juicing and other alternative therapy. When she came home, her tumour was huge, almost busting out of her skin - BUT whatever she had done - it was 2/3 necrosis (dead). She decided to have chemo to finish it off. She then had a double mastectomy and I think 3 or 4 lymph nodes taken. She was then declared cancer free - but also had 2 weeks of radiation to make sure. She is an EXTREMELY positive person and now she wants to spread the story of her journey to help empower others diagnosed in some way. She wants to start a foundation, write a book, do a blog, get information to newly diagnosed people about what they can do - as soon as they leave the doctors after their diagnosis - to start getting well and healing (more with natural or complementary therapy than going straight down the western medical road). My question is, I am worried she is going thru some sort of emotional high (as she has beaten the cancer) and will put all her energy into "saving the world" and it might be because of the fact that she DID survive? I know many people who are cured want to give back, but I am concerned she is going over the top too fast and too soon... Do some "survivors" head down this path? Should I be telling her to slow down and not try to save everyone tomorrow??? I don't want her to overdo it!!!!!! She is a real go-getter though... How can I help her get thru this next part of her journey? Thanks so much for all this info!!!

Debbie's picture

Hi Emma:

I'm so glad your friend is doing well and you are supporting her. She has an amazing story and has every right to be thrilled with her progress. I can tell you that I felt the same way she does. I wanted to give back in gratitude for all of the support and help I found when I needed it. It's an overwhelming feeling. 

I applaud you for looking out for her welfare, but must suggest that you step very gingerly. None of us can ever know entirely what is right for someone else. We have to accept that our opinion is just that, our opinion. Only your friend can decide what is right for her. That being said, you may find that she does have a change of heart and slows down a bit after the euphoria fades. Just be there for her and support her decisions. Hopefully, she also has the support of medical professionals who can advise her, as I did. 

Right now, your friend is trying to figure out how to live the rest of her life as a cancer survivor. It's a process, with many bumps and highs along the way. Things will change and flow. Just be there for her, supporting her and loving her, without judgment. That's the very best you can do, and it truly means the world.

Good luck and all the best to you and your friend.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

 

 

Emma Mottram's picture

Hi Debbie, thank you so much for that advice! Regards, Emma.

Debbie's picture

You're very welcome, Emma. All the best.

Debbie

 

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6 Tips to Help You Find Comfort After Cancer

It's a Sunday afternoon and you'd give anything to curl up under a blanket with a book and hide from the world.
 
But there are lots of things to do that make that impossible. 
 
You'll rest later.
 
Except you never do.
 
Let me ask you this: Do you remember when cancer forced you to stop? 
 
Do you remember when rest was a pivotal part of your healing?
 
Do you remember taking care of yourself first, because you had no choice?
 
Stop. Take a breath and look around you. Will it really all fall down if you take the afternoon off?
 
Sometimes we resist seeking comfort after cancer. We want to throw ourselves back into living, push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and make big changes. 
 
But, life is always going to require healing. And healing is always going to require comfort. 
 
You need comfort. Here's how to go about creating more of it in your world:
 
1.  Concentrate on the little things that make you happy: Whether it's a favorite sweater, dog, yoga class, or driving with the top down, if it makes you happy, make sure to enjoy it more often. To get that done, start paying attention to what makes you smile. And then make the effort to bring those things into your life. You deserve it.
 
2.  Rest: Give in to fatigue. Initially, it speaks to you in whispers, but tends to scream like a banshee when ignored. To keep it from getting to that point, learn to shut down at a reasonable hour at the end of the day. Put a premium on rest and getting to sleep and you will be more productive in the long run.
 
3. Make home a haven of comfort:  Every autumn, I seasonalize my home for the colder months. I put out comfy throws in the family room, including a faux fur one I got from Pottery Barn. Sitting under that throw is one of my sweetest comforts when the wind is howling outside and I hate to see it go in the spring.
 
4. Stay in touch: Keep communicating and sharing with your cancer sisters. While I was treating, I was immersed in support groups, therapy and events that put me in weekly contact with other patients/survivors. Eventually, that came to an end. To this day, however, I still meet up with other survivors by working with the Pathways Women's Cancer Teaching Project. And, of course, I stay in touch with the very close friends I made along the way. Their inclusion in my life is a constant comfort and source of support. 
 
5.  Maintain a soul practice: Whether you are part of a religious community, pray, meditate, or commune with nature, spend some time developing a soul practice. Take your practice one step further by creating a sacred space of peacefulness and healing at home, where you can take a moment to stop, breathe and find comfort anytime you need it.
 
6.  Finish this sentence: I find comfort in ------.  Write down whatever you think of without censoring yourself. When you're finished writing, review what you've written and think about how to bring those things into your life today. 
 
It's been said many times that life begins outside our comfort zone. I don't believe it. Life requires comfort because comfort fortifies and heals. How do you do comfort? Let me know and I'd love to hear how you finished the sentence in tip number six. Make sure to tell me in the comments below.
 
Wishing you much comfort & peace,
 


Comments

Marie's picture

You know Debbie, just reading your post today gave me a delicious sense of comfort and relaxation - thank you for the reminders to slow down a little more.

Debbie's picture

Hi Marie:

I'm so glad my post had that effect on you. Have a beautiful, comforting weekend. We really need to remember to slow down and enjoy the quiet moments. That's what gets us through all of the more trying moments.

Debbie

 

 

Michele Visco's picture

Lovely post to read this morning, Debbie! Nice reminders to taking care of ourselves EVERY day in oftentimes small and important ways! Thanks for the lovely read over my coffee today :-)

Debbie's picture

Hi Michele!

I'm so happy to be a part of your Sunday coffee! Have a beautiful day and make sure it includes lots of comfort!! You deserve it!

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

Ranetta's picture

Thank you Debbie for a timely article. I won't ever get away from my cancer - Multiple Myeloma - and I have been working on establishing habits to fortify and enhance my life every day lately. I had to start another round of chemotherapy because the second round didn't work...but I think the new drug is helping now.
I find comfort in: listening to my quiet inner voice that tells me what is right for me. It gives me a sense of peace that I haven't had in a long time...

Debbie's picture

Ranetta:

I'm so happy that you are finding comfort in new habits. You're going through so much, so it's imperative to fortify and enhance your life every day! You're definitely on the right track listening to your quiet inner voice. That sense of peace, which I've found myself, is priceless.

All the best and much comfort to you always,

Debbie

Pam's picture

Just a simple, short message. Thank you, Debbie!!

Debbie's picture

You're so very welcome, Pam! Thank you, and much love and comfort to you!

Debbie

 

Honey Bee's picture

Hello Debbie,

Somehow this message really resonated with me.

I loved all the thoughts, especially the idea that "comfort fortifies and heals". All the more reason to include it.

I take comfort in little getaways and little adventures. For example, last week, one little adventure was to find a little French Patisserie which had "melt in your mouth" croissants and macaroons to tempt a discerning palate. I think I need to go back there!!!

I like to visit a neighbourhood coffee shop, work on my Gratitude Journal (one of my daily comforts), and see familiar faces of staff and regulars.

Just sitting in my favourite corner at home and reading a delicious book, like a travel book on Tuscany, that has delightful words of wisdom scattered like jewels.

I love enchanting conversations with dear friends, new friends, some of my "health team", (some of whom give hugs and fantastic support) and even strangers.

For me, comfort often looks like adventure, making connections, discovering wisdom, time spent in a beautiful garden, just leisure time with no responsibilities, a Swedish massage, an evening at a live play, a delicious meal, something fun to look forward to, an evening of stellar music, time with a friend, my wonderful cancer support group, even some new clothes that make me feel "like a million bucks". I do celebrate in my own little way every chance I get.

And, of course, learning. As I do from your very special blog. I appreciate all you share that enriches and informs our journey to wellness and thriving.

Thank you for sharing with the rest of us. We appreciate you.

Love and sunshine,
Honey Bee

Debbie's picture

Hello Honey Bee:

You are a comfort connoisseur! I'm going to take some tips from you. Thank you for your beautiful comment and good for you for taking such good care of yourself. I'm sure you bring a ray of sunshine to your cancer support group and health professionals too!

All the best and thanks so much for writing.

Debbie

 

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How to Live the Fearless Life You Deserve

For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It's enough. I'm enough. Brene Brown 
 
I admit it. I have a scarcity mentality. You'd think I worry a lot about money (sometimes I do), but the resource that strikes fear in my heart most often is time.
 
As in "there is never enough time."
 
"I didn't get enough done today."  
 
"How am I ever going to get it all done?"
 
As I've gotten older and experienced real problems (cancer, anyone?) I've started asking myself different questions:
 
Why is it difficult for me to relax and enjoy what each moment brings?
 
Why do I resist trusting myself and knowing that I always manage to get done what needs to get done?
 
Why do I view new opportunities with anxiety, rather than looking forward to them as blessed adventures?
 
The answer to each of these questions is: FEAR.
 
Big, bad, ugly FEAR. FEAR that I'm not enough. FEAR that I will eventually fail miserably. FEAR that, FEAR that, FEAR that......
 
Hey, what if FEAR is just a bad habit? What if FEAR is merely a conditioned response drummed into me long ago when I was highly impressionable? 
 
What if FEAR is just a feeling and not reality? 
 
What if FEAR that I am not enough is a load of you know what?
 
FEAR stops me from saying "Yes" to myself. And, when I find the courage to step up, FEAR stomps on the joy of putting myself out there to experience something new.
 
FEAR makes mindfulness impossible by dredging up needless worry.
 
FEAR is great in fight or flight situations, but entirely useless when your life is not actually threatened. Imagine getting into a roller coaster if you really believed you were going to die. Would you even show up, let alone get in and strap yourself into the seat? I think not.
 
No, it's nervous energy that lets you push your boundaries and gets you into that seat. It's nervous energy that expresses itself screaming and laughing all the way up and down, up and down, UP, UP, UP and DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. That screaming and laughing is mindfulness in its purest form.
 
When I was six, I remember the fun and nervous energy of appearing in my first (and last) play. I was Mopsy in Peter Rabbit. That cutie-pie standing next to me is Danny Allegro (who played Peter Rabbit to rave reviews.) I remember his mother taking our picture and I remember the joy of being a kid and doing something new and fun. 
 
This leads me to what I'm up to this week. On Saturday, April 5th, I'm giving the keynote address at the 5th Annual Blood Cancer Conference of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH. I've been practicing my talk for weeks, I've got my plane tickets and I even bought a new dress. I'm fending off a little FEAR, but mostly I'm very excited. I'm relying on nervous energy to make me a better, more creative, transformational speaker, and put me squarely in the joy of the moment - just like it did when I was six.
 
Are you in the Cincinnati area? If so, come say hello. I'd love to meet you, so have no FEAR and walk right up and introduce yourself! For now, why not leave me a comment below. Let me know how you deal with your FEAR, and tell me about one or two things you're doing to live a FEARless life.
 
Survival > Existence,
 
 
Related Posts:
 
 

Comments

Pamela Durocher's picture

Fear has played a major role in my life for as far back as I can remember. Cancer at 55 has taken it to a new level. I read all the stuff about "the blessings" that one can get from the experience of cancer - I'm trying to get there! Fear and anxiety, enhanced by medication - it's relentless!

Debbie's picture

Hi Pamela:

I know it's not easy to get beyond the fear. I applaud you for trying to get there. Taking one day, one moment at a time, is the best we can do. I wish you many blessings and all the best.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

 

Pam's picture

My biggest fear, especially since diagnosis, is that my choices will be the wrong ones. I don't want to waste any more time going in the wrong direction. I was in my 40's before I finally felt that I was on the right track (as a nurse) then cancer came calling. Since I'm probably relapsing for the third time as we speak, the fear of doing the wrong thing has been amped up exponentially and financial constraints only make it worse.

Debbie's picture

Pam:

I can't imagine how fearing a third relapse feels. You have a lot on your plate and every reason to be fearful. Keep talking and sharing, getting all the support you possibily can. This is not a situation you can go through alone, no matter how strong you are. I'm sending you blessings and good wishes that things get better.

Debbie

 

 

 

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How Do You Want to Live Your Cancer Survivorship?

"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next." Gilda Radner 

 

About five years ago, for just 50 cents and a little bit of courage, I bought myself a cancer guru. Of course, I didn't know the significance of that purchase at the time. But, the universe knew what I needed and brought her to me to help make sense of the nonsensical that is cancer.

 

That teacher was Gilda Radner and she came to me via a tattered copy of her book, It's Always Something. I stumbled upon it at a garage sale a few months after my breast cancer diagnosis, mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. I remember standing in someone's front yard, the book in my hand, afraid to take it home because I knew how it ended.  

 

And yet I couldn't put it down.

 

There was nothing else to do but plunk down two quarters and take Gilda home with me. I read the book in a day, and it affected me deeply.

 

Which brings us to this year. On April 5th, I will stand before approximately 300 people to deliver the keynote speech at the 5th Annual Blood Cancer Conference of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Cincinnati, Ohio. The theme of the conference is "New Paths to Hope for Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma."

 

As I prepare to give my talk, I'm thinking a lot about hope and what it means to me. Which brought me back to Gilda and her truth that "life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next." 

 

Despite her terminal condition, Gilda lived the definition of hope.

 

When times are tough, we can wish things were better, or we can live our hope. The difference is all about action. Wishing is passive, while living our hope requires "having to change" and "taking the moment and making the best of it." Living your hope means being proactive and choosing healing over wishing.

 

You can do it.

 

It's not necessarily easy, but it is simple. Show Up to Be Supported. Take Every Opportunity to Laugh. Cultivate a Sense of Wonder. Celebrate Your Courage. Make it happen. You Can Thrive After Treatment and you can decide to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment. You have a lot more input into this crazy cancer thing than you realize.

 

You can choose to live your hope.

 

This is your survivorship. 

 

How do you want to live it?

 

Survival > Existence,

 


Comments

Claudia Schmidt's picture

Hi Debbi, I had read Gilda's book many years ago, long before my diagnosis, and was always moved by her spirit and humor in the midst of her very difficult time. Since my whole BC experience, I choose to live in the now and aggressively focus on the future, vs. dwelling on my diagnosis. Life is short, I feel I've been given a 2nd chance and am trying to make the most of the time I have. Family and friends are the most important things in my life now, even more so than before my diagnosis. Work has taken a back seat, which wasn't true before my diagnosis. I shut out the negative and focus on the positive. Probably sounds corny, but it works for me :)

Debbie's picture

Hi Claudia:

That's so beautiful Claudia! I love your outlook; it's not corny at all! Gilda would be proud!

Survival > Existence,

Debbie 

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Special Edition Motivation Monday! Get the First 5 Chapters of "You Can Thrive After Treatment" Free

It's a very special Motivation Monday this week! 

What better day to share five of the simple secrets that motivated me to create inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy beyond cancer! You'll find them in the first five chapters of my book, You Can Thrive After Treatment, which I'm making available to you FREE!

All you have to do is sign up now to be a part of the WhereWeGoNow community. You'll also get my newsletter (which I send out every two weeks or so) and other interesting offers I find along the way.

To receive your free newsletters and copy of the first five chapters of my book, enter your email below and click “Subscribe!”

Then, when you confirm your subscription, you’ll be allowed to instantly download your gift!

I'm so happy to share this free download with you. I hope you enjoy it and would love to get your feedback. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Survival > Existence,

P.S.: If you're already on my mailing list, not to worry. My next newsletter will include a link to your free copy of the first five chapters of my book. 

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