Your Journey Beyond Breast Cancer – Tools for the Road

Guest Blogger: Louise B. Lubin PhD

I know you remember the moment you heard, “You have breast cancer.” Those words began a long journey with many possible roadblocks and detours. You will all be at different points on your cancer timeline. Perhaps you have just been diagnosed, are continuing with treatment, or even managing a reoccurrence. Because each of you is more than a statistic, your journey will be unique. The path to follow must be the one that is right for you. At each turn, you will be faced with many hard decisions. You certainly did not choose this challenge, but it is now in front of you. Deciding what is important, how you want to live, and setting your priorities are some of the many demands of this disease. The challenge is how you want to move forward towards healing which is finding your wholeness and balance. Cure is the absence of physical disease. Everyone hopes for a cure. Even if you cannot achieve a cure, you can and must seek your definition of healing.

Medical treatment has changed and improved dramatically over the last forty years since I began my work with breast cancer. I have found however, that there continue to be many “challenges” that surface long after the doctor “releases” you and tells you all is clear on your scans. These challenges center around fear of the unknown and reoccurrence, loss, changes in relationships, the importance of living in the present moment, and how to find your inner strength and resiliency. These ongoing concerns are all part of the universal survivorship journey that challenges you to redefine, rediscover, and reconnect to what is uniquely healing for you. 

This logo from my website reflects my belief in the importance of how your mind, body and spirit must all be examined to move your health and life forward. Each chapter in my interactive guide addresses your challenges and provides tools to increase your knowledge of your body, identify the power of your mind, and embrace the wisdom of your spirit. 

The road to your healing is one you cannot travel alone. We all need help when facing the unknown. Managing cancer demands you are open to learning tools and strategies to move forward. Healing can seem more like a maze than a straight path. There will be times when you hit a “roadblock” and feel stuck. The path may seem narrow when you are feeling alone or widen when you open to the support from others. 

I have been humbled and privileged these forty years to walk this journey with many women who have been my teachers. I have learned many valuable life lessons not only about cancer but also about life. I have learned each woman is unique and more than her diagnosis. I have learned to accept that life is always changing, despite our desire for it to remain the same. We are often unready for what is lost or what is going to happen. Although we cannot control what life brings, we can control the way we think about what is happening to us. Remember, you are more than your thoughts.

I have also learned that life is not fair. People don’t always get what they deserve. Bad things happen to good people. We must accept what is, rather than focus on what should be. Staying stuck in blaming others or ourselves keeps us from living more fully with an open heart and compassion.

When faced with a life-threatening illness, there is never enough time when we fear life might be shortened. By slowing down to the speed of now, time expands. This directs us to live each moment more fully with clarity and space to know what we are truly feeling. We may not always feel at ease with the present moment, but we can better understand what our next step can be. I have learned we cannot live without hope, but what we hope for must be modified as life and circumstances change. 

These lessons are only a few of the insights from the sisterhood of women who have been my teachers. Although most women continue to live full and meaningful lives after diagnosis, others must actively manage the disease for many years.  Having tools – “life skills” are necessary for your healing. My guide is not a substitute for either medical or psychological consultation, but an additional tool to help you cope and thrive to move forward. 

Your journey can feel more like a marathon than a sprint.  You must pace yourself to run a marathon and not try to sprint as fast as you can. This guide should not be read quickly. As you move through it, there will be “rest stops” to question yourself and take some action. Keep your focus and goals small and specific. Stretch enough to move forward, but just begin with one small step. Pay attention to not only what you can change, but also what you are already doing that is healthy and right for you.

Many women have expressed that cancer has changed their lives in profound ways. Not only their body, but also their relationships, beliefs about themselves and others, and their discovery of what is truly meaningful and important in their lives has been revealed on their journey.

My greatest hope is that what I have learned by traveling with these amazing women will help make the journey more manageable and help them find their way back home to their true self and healing.

About Our Guest Blogger

Dr. Louise Lubin is a licensed clinical psychologist in Norfolk, Virginia who has practiced adult, marital and family therapy for 40 years. A major focus has been on survivorship in chronic and life-threatening illnesses. She is a retired Community Faculty at the Eastern Virginia Medical School and a life time member of the American Psychological Association and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. She has developed programs “Many Paths to Healing” for hospital systems and physician groups to provide patients with the tools necessary to cope and manage the emotional challenges of illness.

Dr. Lubin’s new book, Your Journey Beyond Breast Cancer – Tools for the Road is an interactive guide to restore, revive and rebuild patients’ lives at any milepost on their breast cancer journey. It is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and iUniverse in Hardcover, Paperback, and as an ebook.

Dr. Lubin’s guide helps women facing breast cancer realize cancer does not define you. She provides practical and “doable” tools to move you towards positive self talk, managing anxiety, and improving your mood. This book will not only assist you through your diagnosis, treatment and healing, but also teach you self care lessons to improve your everyday life beyond breast cancer.

Salud Astrud – Six Year Survivor
President, Board of Directors
Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *