Today, Anne Tuliakiono shares her inspiring story of how she got through breast cancer. Anne really inspires me as she went on the planned dream holiday (see photo) and just started her Nursing degree. Thanks Anne and well done.
This is followed by a personal story and helpful hints from a Husband whose Wife has recently gone through breast cancer. I am sure many partners will relate to his story. Thanks for writing it!
Anne Tuliakiono’s Inspiring Story
I was diagnosed in 2009 and there are many women like me that have survived. It’s how you choose to deal with your diagnosis that will make the difference. My greatest hope is that sharing my story helps someone else….
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed?
Shock, no way, this can’t be happening; the nurse had to get my sister because at this stage I couldn’t stop crying.
What really helped you get through breast cancer?
- Support from Family & Friends
- Cancer Society
- Friends I met during my journey
What did you learn through breast cancer?
- That a positive attitude and humour can get you through the worst
- Love and support of Family and Friends is forever
- Appreciate every day and enjoy the moment
What did you gain and lose through breast cancer?
I think I gained more then I lost…. I gained:
- Belief that I would get through treatment
- Knowing that I would change my life around
- Hope to believe in the future
- Making each day count
What did you do to get yourself ‘back’ from cancer and cancer treatments?
- Watched funny DVDs’
- Read trashy novels
- Special treats
- My children wrote special notes for me
- Coffee dates with friends
- Met other women with breast cancer
- Planned a holiday to celebrate
How is your life different now?
- I finally gave up smoking
- My life has more purpose and meaning
- I have a Bucket List
- I finally put myself First
- I left my job as an administrator and am studying towards a nursing degree
What would you say to someone going through breast cancer now?
When I was diagnosed I cried and had one day where I could feel sorry for myself. The following day I decided it was time to move on and meet this challenge.
- Everyone has different reactions as to how they deal with their diagnoses.
- Stay positive, I know it may seem hard to be positive but it can make all the difference in treatments.
- Surround yourself with family and friends, that will support you and love you unconditionally
- Listen to your body
- Chemo and Radiation: everyone has different reactions; not all people react the same way
- Special treats help you get through the worst
- Humour and positive attitude
Helpful Hints from a Husband
I’m sure you all want to hear some deep, heartfelt and inspiring story from me…..in which case you should piss off down to the library and go look in the children’s section for some fairy tales or books about talking animals.
When your wife is diagnosed with cancer, your first thought is “Oh shit!” What’s required next is you put all your own personal issues, gripes and other bullshit aside and get on with the task of helping her beat it. Part of the time you go on autopilot, which is helpful as you don’t tend to think too far ahead. Initially, there’s the whirlwind of appointments, probably surgery and lots of driving around. So how do you get through it all, you just do.
1) Don’t think too far ahead. Focus on the daily routines; it keeps your mind busy, busy is good and it stops you from thinking about what might be. On the flipside, do set goals like “a year from now, when all the treatment’s done, we’re going to laugh about this.” Plan a trip, which is what my wife does – which is why we’re broke, but also why we have such great memories and a good marriage (travel together, that’s the secret).
2) Humour is good too. Luckily my wife has a tremendous sense of humour, and doesn’t take much seriously. Laughter is good medicine, not as good as tamoxifen, but at least you feel better right away.
3) Make a little bit of time for your own stuff, so you don’t go completely crazy. If you let the cancer take over both your lives, they won’t be worth living. Kind of like the joke:
Patient: “Doctor, if I give up smoking, drinking, fatty foods and sex, will I live longer?”
Doctor: “Well, actually no….but it’ll feel longer. “
What I did
For me, I spent some extra time with the punching bag (if you don’t have one for your garage, get one, good therapy Although the best therapy was walking the dog, I’d talk to him about all my worries and issues, he was a such a great listener. He’d listen to all my bullshit, and then sniff the bushes and take a big crap. Amazing how you regain perspective about how your own problems are insignificant when you’re picking up dog faeces. Maybe you need to hit some extra golf-balls at the range or restore some furniture. No drinking though, you need to be at the top of your game because you’re helping someone else fight for their life against a cruel and merciless enemy.
Anyway, simply put, having a wife/partner with cancer sucks, but you just have to man up and deal with it. It’s okay to fall apart, be down, sad, even lose the plot. But just don’t do it in front of the person you’re supporting. Nope, when you’re with them, chances are you’ll be doing lots of bits and pieces to help them out, and then you have to have your game face on. It’ll make their time a lot easier (which is your entire purpose in life right now) and whatever happens further on, good or bad, you’ll be glad you did.