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Your Breast Cancer Experience Is Valid, No Matter What You’ve Faced

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Mapodile/Getty Images

Mapodile/Getty Images

by Stefanie Remson

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by Stefanie Remson

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Everyone’s breast cancer experience is different, but one thing links them: Your experiences during and after treatment are valid, no matter what your circumstances.

The feelings, fears, and challenges of breast cancer are at once universal and totally unique.

Though every person’s experience may be different, there’s a thread that ties them all together: Whatever you go through, it’s valid.

When asked how they’d finish the sentence, “Your breast cancer experience is valid even if ____,” Bezzy members and contributors touched by cancer shared what they wished they’d heard — and what they want others to hear.

Breast cancer can look like a million different things on the surface, but your experience is personal — and it matters.

Join the free BC community!
Connect with thousands of members and find support through daily live chats, curated resources, and one-to-one messaging.

Your cancer experience is valid even if …

It’s different than everyone else’s experience.

— BezzyBC member Jlk

Regardless of what type of breast cancer, treatment, or recovery you have, your inner experience is uniquely your own. There’s no right way to experience cancer. There’s only your way, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

I had absolutely no idea I had cancer.

— Susan, 45 years old

Even if you didn’t have traditional, obvious, or typical symptoms, your cancer diagnosis matters. You might have felt like you were at the top of your game or too young even to get cancer.

I was running 30 miles a week and weight training for a fitness competition at the time of my screening … I had absolutely no idea I was sick.

— Ashley

Doctors or acquaintances may try to be reassuring, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

You are going to be fine (how do they even know that?!).

— BezzyBC member hugs23

“Fine” means something different to everyone.

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Your cancer experience is valid even if …

It was minimal, and you’re now NED [no evidence of disease].

— BezzyBC member Donna468

Just because you received a stage 0 diagnosis, had a quick, simple surgery, or didn’t have to undergo chemo, getting breast cancer is still scary.

It was noninvasive and stage 0.

— BezzyBC member Meeshy

No matter what your treatment needs, cancer is still physically and emotionally difficult.

Even if I didn’t need chemo and radiation and had no issues with either healing or multiple surgeries.

— BezzyBC member NancyD

Many Bezzy members shared this sentiment.

Even if I didn’t need chemo or radiation.

— Christina99

Cancer may make you feel that you’re facing your death, something many people can only imagine.

Even if your cancer isn’t advanced, it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel afraid, sad, angry, short-changed, or any other emotion you may be feeling.

I only needed a lumpectomy, and I was NED. It was a very distressing time in my life, but the people around me didn’t seem to think so. Because it was such an easy treatment, they expected me to return completely to normal afterward. I wasn’t.

— Cathi, 77 years old, received her diagnosis at 55 years old

For many, there isn’t a return to the person you were before you had cancer. There’s a ‘new normal’ that sets in afterward. The experience is often life changing.

No matter how “easy” it looks from the outside, it’s never really easy.

Just because I didn’t go through your hell, doesn’t mean it wasn’t my hell.

— Anonymous

Your cancer experience is valid even if…

You weren’t the only one in the family.

— BezzyBC member cmj maria

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes, it touches a family once. Other times, many members of the same family experience cancer. This doesn’t mean one person’s diagnosis is more valid than another’s.

Even if you have a genetic disposition or have been through the cancer process with another family member, it still has a profound effect on your life each time it happens.

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Your cancer experience is valid even if …

My breast cancer experience is valid even if I don’t look like what I’m going through.

— BezzyBC member Crglaspie1

What is cancer supposed to look like, anyway? Not everyone loses their hair or appears sick on the outside.

Even if I didn’t struggle with my treatments and looked “normal.” Mentally, it was and is a struggle.

— BezzyBC member AnnieP

Looking fine doesn’t mean you are fine.

My breast cancer experience is valid even though I don’t look sick. People say, ‘Well, you look great and back to normal.’ That really gets to me.

— BezzyBC member cmj maria

It’s OK to want to look well and put your best foot forward when you have cancer — or not. Either way, it’s your choice. How you feel doesn’t have to match how you look.

I laid low during my treatments. When I left my house, I made sure I looked my best or that I didn’t go. People thought this meant I was fine, but they just didn’t see me at my worst.

— Amy, 57 years old

Your cancer experience is valid even if …

You’re done with treatments and navigating the road ahead.

— BezzyBC member Dogmama

Just because you’re in remission or NED doesn’t mean you’re “done” with cancer.

I’m still fighting side effects of all my treatments.

— BezzyBC member Grandmataz

Whether you’re dealing with side effects or coping with the emotional aftermath, cancer’s toll can linger.

It can also leave behind medical concerns to grapple with.

Managing my cancer pain that the chemo and radiation caused has been more difficult than treating the cancer itself.

— Nancy, 69 years old

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Takeaway

Breast cancer can look like a million different things on the surface, but your experience is personal — and it matters.

One Bezzy BC member said it best:

Your BC experience is valid because you are!

— BezzyBC member Jlk

Fact checked on June 14, 2024

Join the free BC community!
Connect with thousands of members and find support through daily live chats, curated resources, and one-to-one messaging.

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Have thoughts or suggestions about this article? Email us at article-feedback@bezzy.com.

About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of RheumatoidArthritisCoach.com. She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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