The most challenging thing about having cancer is having cancer…That you are in the “club” that you don’t necessarily want to be in. Just the word “cancer” always freaked me out because it always had such a dark cloud around it. I think that cancer today allows people to live long lives and survive, as opposed to cancer years ago. I also find it incredibly difficult being a patient at Sloan Kettering, although it is an outstanding institution, it is strictly a cancer hospital; you face the word everywhere you turn. That was one of the most difficult parts, actually being in the halls and space of Sloan Kettering. I think initially when you are diagnosed you tend to reflect and you think about all the things you want to do with your life and the changes you want to make. And every day you think about the word cancer. As time heals and evolves you work your way back into your day-to-day routine.
Today I do not think about the word cancer on a daily basis. I have always been relatively healthy, eating well and exercising minimally 5 times a week. The importance of diet and exercise to maintain a healthy body and healthy mind has really become a stronger focus for me.
I tried to find the positive lining in all the darkness and felt I could put out a positive message. I tried to take the whole experience into the most positive light. My mother, who is also a breast cancer survivor of 30 years, was a great role model. I have seen the survival side of cancer. I had a strong family history so it was something that was very prominent in my life. I told everyone and had no secrets, and everyone who surrounded me was amazing and incredibly supportive. They were there to help in any way possible. Everybody truly helped to move me through this difficult time.
I personally think the best thing you can do is work. In my
experience in dealing with friends who have gone through treatment,
those who would go straight from treatment right back to work survived
the treatment better than those who didn’t. When you don’t work and are
unable to keep your mind busy I tend to see people become depressed and
consumed. When you have something to keep your mind off of the cancer
and how you are feeling, it helps to keep moving you through the long
process of recovery.
This is Sonia Kashuk's second guest blog for Cancer and Careers. Sonia is the President of Sonia Kashuk Inc., and is on the Cancer and Careers/CEW Foundation Board.