A Q&A with Chinyere

What advice would you give to someone else who just received a diagnosis?
I would first tell them to breath, staying calm and informed is the only way to combat the natural fear that the word cancer brings. When I first figured out that I had cancer I was in bed, after a self-exam. Before I made the appointment the next day for a scan, I realized that I needed to take one day at a time; which is the next step. Do not overthink things, it will put you in a place that is unhealthy. The last piece of advice I would give is to stay informed, if you cannot digest all the different types of information, ask for the information in print so that you can go over it later. It is a journey that is not a sprint but a marathon, so keep your head up and stay strong and most of all remember to take one day at a time.

How has breast cancer changed your outlook on life?
Breast cancer has not really changed my outlook on life, it has changed my vision. I find that I have more time to reflect on the wonders that surround me. When you’re just working all the time your sights are usually pointing towards a goal. When your goal becomes staying alive, time slows because life now has more meaning or else you wouldn’t be fighting for it! I find myself sitting in my garden listening to the birds and enjoying the sunshine as opposed to the hustle of everyday life. I also have time to cook healthier and better meals instead of picking up something to go. Overall, the quality of my vision of life has shifted, I would like to think for the better.

What gave/gives you strength during treatments?
I would say that my faith has a lot to do with my strength. I know that my journey on this earth is not going to end so, I have so much more to give. I also do not think past the next moment. In the same way that I take one day at a time, when I am going through treatments that are not pleasant, I take one moment at a time. Then when I get in bed, I remind myself that tomorrow will be better. Staying positive is key, even if you have to trick your mind into it. I also give myself time to grieve, this is very important, part of my strength comes from allowing myself to cry.

What support have you found especially helpful?
The support of my husband, my family, friends, and wonderful doctors I have found extremely helpful. Once friends of mine found out that I had breast cancer they rallied around me. Many of them had had breast cancer prior to me but never said anything. I was able to get a lot of helpful tips on what works and what didn’t. My husband is my major and personal favorite supporter. If it wasn’t for him coming with me to every single appointment, I don’t know how I would have fared! He also was a second set of ears, so when I reached my limit of understanding he took over. My family on both sides have been extremely helpful in keeping my spirits up by calling, texting, and visiting. A large portion of support is also your team of doctors. Dr. Finny George and this team at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group were particularly helpful at every step of the way. Dr. George was and is an excellent listener and the way that he is able to explain all the different aspects of surgery put me at ease. Remember as I stated previously that information is the most important tool towards understanding your treatments. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love me and believe like I do that I can beat this!!!