Posted on October 02 2015
We recently had the chance to ask Fit Fearless Mom, Anne Pursell, about her journey through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Anne was diagnosed in late 2014, and publicly shared her path this past year on her blog. We've been inspired and awed by her relentless optimism and cheerful smile, as she faced, head on, the battle for her life. We feel privileged to learn about her experiences and help share her story.
From Anne's blog: Diagnosed with Triple Negative, Stage 3, (DCIS) Breast Cancer on October 16th, 2014 in my right breast. Underwent single mastectomy November 3rd, 2014. I had my last chemo treatment in May 2015, and last radiation treatment in August 2015. Declared CANCER-FREE on June 9th, 2015. Will have reconstructive surgery in 2016.
What to say or do when it's cancer
A lot of people don't know what to say or do when a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer. They want to help and be there for their loved one, but are often fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. What are some of the encouraging things that your friends and family said or did, that helped you stay strong and positive while you fought?
Some of the encouraging things that family and friends said or did was that they were thinking of and praying for me, and stepped up offering financial help. (A GoFundMe page was set up by my dad where people could donate), as well as help with our daughter when I had to go in for surgeries, treatments, appointments, etc. (making sure Heather was taken care of was my biggest concern/priority). As well as them setting up meal trains/bringing groceries, or going with me to my surgeries, and critical doctor appointments. Just easing my mind of things, big and small things that needed to be taken care of. Just having support in all those ways helped me so much.
Physical fitness and exercising daily gratitude
BANDI: You've shared your battle very publicly by chronicling your journey on your blog and social media channels. You have shown remarkable strength, courage and have maintained an amazingly positive attitude much of the time since your diagnosis. But you’ve also been brutally honest on some of your hardest days. How do you pick yourself back up when you have a day that is particularly difficult or scary or you just feel lousy?
ANNE: I have quiet time and just unplug from everything. I spend time in prayer, down time with my husband and daughter. My faith, husband, and daughter were my rocks during all of this, made me smile and lifted me up more than anything else. I also keep a gratitude journal, where I write down 3 new things that I'm grateful for everyday. And as many know, fitness is a big part of my life as well, so when I was diagnosed, I used that as a positive outlet to work things out mentally and emotionally. Also to keep myself physically strong to help my body handle everything it was going through better--I would picture the cancer right in front of me, and me 'literally' kicking it's butt.
Becoming a fighter in all aspects of life
It seems like the world often tries to put labels on people who are fighting cancer. Did you find yourself struggling to hold on to your sense of self, on the inside, when your physical appearance, and perhaps routine, changed dramatically on the outside? Did you find yourself having to remind people that you are still YOU on the inside? Do you feel like cancer changed you and who you are?
My mastectomy, chemo, and hair loss were where I had the greatest struggle, but it was more coming from the initial anxiety and processing what my body was going to have to go through. Knowing that I was going to be in pain, sick, that I was going to lose my hair, and that things weren't going to be "normal" again for a long time, if at all. I didn't find myself having to remind people that I was still me. I knew wherever we went, all people would have to do is look at me and see "oh, that girl has cancer" because of my outward appearance, but I stopped thinking about that because I knew I was still me no matter what my physical appearance showed. And those closest to me I didn't have to do that with, because they didn't treat me differently. Cancer has certainly changed me, not who I am necessarily, but it has strengthened me, and has given me more of a fighter mentality in all aspects of my life.
The Hardest Part
No one likes waiting for answers in life, especially when the news you are waiting to hear might not the answer you hoped. Fighting cancer is filled with days where you are waiting for things like test results, appointments, side effects to wear off, etc. What drove you forward on those days that felt dark and uncertain?
Waiting, not knowing, was always the hardest part. It was like I was holding my breath for eternity. My faith, prayer, husband, daughter, and the support system we've had, were what drove me forward during the dark, uncertain moments. Even now, quite honestly, I will forever have that question in the back of my head: "What if it comes back?" because even now, as a survivor, the fight continues; it becomes about monitoring things and looking out for it, so we can catch it if it comes back. Though I don't dwell on it, because I know that if it does, we will again, do whatever it takes, and keep on fighting.
JOIN BANDI Wear IN SUPPORT OF EFFORTS TO FIND A CURE!
During the month of October, 2015
BANDIWEAR is proud to contribute 15% of web sales
to Breast Cancer Research Foundation in Anne's honor.
We are also pleased to make a contribution to Anne's GoFundMe campaign, to help ease the financial stress that inevitably comes with a journey like this.
We'd love to hear your thoughts posted in the comments section below, and please share Anne's story with your friends and family.
All images in this article were provided and used with permission courtesy of Anne Pursell
All Rights Reserved 2015