How the right support helped me through breast cancer

After my double mastectomy in 2002, I vividly remember running on the beach and hearing some teenagers making fun of my child-like figure. Their remarks hurt deeply. Even though I went on to have my breast reconstruction surgery 29 long months later, I remained sensitive about my body image. Still, I thought I could handle all my emotions. Then, when I completed my treatments and my oncologist told me he’d see me again in three months, I felt totally lost and frightened. Three months? What was I supposed to do with myself? I had been safely isolated in MD Anderson’s cocoon of care for over a year — walking the halls, having scans, meeting with my oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist and my plastic surgeon. Finally, my oncologist said, “Estelle, what you need right now is not something I can help you with. What you need is to talk with a therapist who can help you to move forward.” Seeking support after cancer treatment Despite my initial hesitation, I agreed to visit MD Anderson’s Psychiatric Oncology Center. It proved to be exactly what I needed. Therapy helped me overcome my what-if fears and taught me to greet each day that comes. I learned to appreciate all the little things– the sunrise, the sunset and the changing of the seasons. My therapist encouraged me to love my body exactly the way it is. That helped me transform my negative experience on the beach into an opportunity to be thankful that I’m still alive and able to run with my two legs, and it gave me the strength to withstand future incidents....