A Letter to Diana from Breast Cancer Survivor Lizette

Good morning Diana!

I would like to share with you my journey with breast cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer on Jan. 24, 2014. I opted for a mastectomy of the right breast and had surgery on Feb. 7, 2014. Six weeks post surgery, I started chemo therapy that lasted for 6 months. After my second chemo therapy, my hair started to fall off & I opted to have it all shaved by my husband. This was around May 2014. My husband and youngest son shaved their hair off as well to show their support. Chemo therapy was brutal for me as it made me sick- I was nauseated, had joint pains, was weak, had restless legs, insomnia, made me bloated, lost my taste buds, I  gained 15 pounds, made my finger/toe nails turn black, and sometimes I would have difficulty breathing. I had more bad days than good days during chemo. Soon after I completed chemo therapy, I started my radiation treatment. I had to complete 25 treatments of radiation which was scheduled from M-F for 5 weeks. I had to drive from Laguna Niguel to Ontario everyday for my radiation treatment. The radiation treatment side effects were not as harsh as the chemo therapy. The side effects were fatigue (I slept a lot and felt tired easily) and sun burn. The radiation made my skin turn very raw and burnt. Despite of the long processes of trying to beat cancer, in the end, I was told by my radiation oncologist and medical oncologist that I am now considered "cancer free". Today, I still experience joint pains/aches, muscle aches, dull taste buds, decrease in energy level and strength. Because of these symptoms, I decided to change my diet to just plant based diet since my last chemo (end of August) to be able to give my body the time to heal, feel better, and detox. I believe that since I have been on this diet, the extra weight has slowly diminished and my hair started to grow faster.  My oncologists said that it will take at least a year or so to feel the same, but my goal is to feel better sooner than that.

I know that I could have not done this alone without my strong faith, yoga practice, meditation (I thank you for teaching me how to meditate as it helped me go to sleep at night without having to take pills for insomnia or pain), and a great support system (like my husband, 2 boys, mother, brothers, yoga community, friends, relatives, co-workers, physicians, & other health care providers).  I strongly believe that I did not have any complications from my mastectomy (removal of the breast tissue) and right axillary (armpit) lymphadenectomy (lymph node removal), if it was not for the yoga practice. Thank you for being part of my journey!

Namaste! Lizette

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