Judith's story: how to tame the breast cancer beast
At 38, Judith was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a partial mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the French Canadian is now cancer-free. As she returns from the trip of a lifetime, Judith shares how important it is to enjoy life despite cancer. We also help you recognise the warning signs of breast cancer.
I'm sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight to Portugal. I'm about to walk 240km on the Camino de Santiago to raise funds for breast cancer. I reflect on how hectic my last year has been. How did I get through it all with a smile?
Those were Judith's words the day she left on her life-changing adventure. Now the breast cancer thriver is back at home and shares how cancer has changed her life. In 16 months, she went from being a cancer patient who has no idea how to handle the fear of what might happen to her to walking the streets of Portugal cancer-free.
This cancer has changed my vision of life. I'm more serene in my choices, my character. I live day by day and enjoy every moment of happiness that life offers me. I don't want others to tell me what to do or worry about what they might think of me, how I live my life.
Taming the beast
1. Enjoy time with your loved ones
My friends and family, so precious, were there during my treatments and on the days when I wasn't well. They were always there to listen to me, to make me laugh. I enjoyed every moment spent with them.
2. Embrace the roller-coaster of emotions
Yes, I cried at my diagnosis, who wouldn't? Sharing the news was tough - it is the fear of the unknown. The word "cancer" is scary. We never think it could happen to us. There is no breast cancer in my family, so I kept thinking why me? I went through all the emotions, from sadness to anger. And, I got myself back.
3. Find other cancer thrivers who inspire you
I thought of all those people in the treatment room - calm, serene, real warriors and I did the same thing. I asked a friend to shave my hair. I felt different but, at the same time, I was proud to wear this beautiful coconut.
4. Keep living your life
Throughout my treatments, I was serene, positive, smiling. I continued to walk, to see music shows, to enjoy time with friends, to go camping. In short, I did not stop to live because all of those little things made me feel good and appreciate life even more.
5. Face fears head on
You must not be afraid. Yes, there it is, this damn cancer. It was part of my life for a year. But I beat him, I kicked him out. In hindsight, I see that I am strong. I appreciate every moment that life offers me. I can fall but I can get back up. Go head on, and face the beast.
Know the warning signs of breast cancer
Common signs and symptoms to watch for are:
Change in size or shape of the breast
Pain, lump, swelling of the breast or underarm area
Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple
Skin change (swelling, warmth, redness, darkening of the breast and/or dimpling or puckering of the skin)
Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.
Please consult your doctor if you notice any changes or for any questions on self breast examination.
Thank you Judith for sharing your story and insights. We look forward to seeing you all in the Girls Rocking Cancer Community on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach out to Judith on Instagram @juerod
Judith and Mel