Living life three months at a time

Calendar for the Chronic Breast Cancer Patient
Chemo Days; Lab Tests; Diagnostic Tests; Dentist and Cardiologist Visits of the Hypothetical Chronic Breast Cancer Patient

When you have a chronic disease, like chronic breast cancer, you can often fall into a pattern of living your life in short segments of time.  The segments are defined by endpoints of another treatment, a diagnostic test or the anniversary of your diagnosis, your surgery, or some other significant medical event.

It’s hard not to live this way because unfortunately, in order to take proper care of yourself and your disease, there is always something else to do. Something else to anticipate.  Something else on the calendar. I won’t say something else to look forward to, because while you crave information about your condition, part of you just wants it to go away and leave you to your “regular” life that you enjoyed before the illness started.

Every event can feel like a watershed moment

Every event can feel like a watershed moment and results may take on momentous meaning, if you let them. If you have a diagnostic test, and the results are good, you breathe a sigh of relief and go back to your life until the next test scheduled for 3, 6 or 12 months.   If the results are bad, you may fret about them, or allow yourself to slip into a poor state of mind which may linger with you for some time.  This is why it is important to develop a mindset that allows you to stay resilient despite what the results of your tests may indicate.

A test is just a test…

You may want to re-frame your approach to life.  A test is just a test. Words are just words.  Test results are one data point in a large data set that represents your disease.  If we assume you have not been called “terminal” by your primary oncologist, then it is important to realize the chronic nature of the condition and try to adjust your life to keep going, despite what may happen from data point to data point.  Sometimes you might be doing poorly; other times you are doing well.  We can’t predict the future. We can only live in today’s moment.

So we keep going.  Week by week, month by month, year by year.  One day, you’ll look back and suddenly realize how far you have come.  As treatment options progress, and your breast cancer disappears, you can begin to relax a bit. Enjoy your health. Enjoy your life.  Try to live in the moment and let the worry about living life in 3 month intervals go by the wayside.

If your breast cancer is getting worse, I urge you to try to persevere.  New treatments are coming into the marketplace all the time.  For example, one of the drugs I have received in the past few years didn’t even exist the first time I had breast cancer back in 2004. Who knows? Maybe there is a clinical trial somewhere out there that is designed to treat patients just like you.

Try to get away from the model of living your life 3 months at a time

Try to get away from the model of living your life 3 months at a time.  It is a long journey when you have chronic breast cancer or another chronic disease. With any luck, good medical care, a healthy diet and lifestyle and the ongoing scientific research that is advancing treatment options all the time, you’ll be here for a lot longer than 3 months.

Don’t allow breast cancer to kill your passion and steal your life.

After all, life goes on despite your breast cancer.

Hi, I am

Barbara Spalding MS, RDN, Culinary Dietitian

As a dietitian and world traveler, I love bold flavors — in food and in life. 14 years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole into Breast Cancer Wonderland. Since then, I’ve learned to cook differently while savoring the pleasures of food and companionship. I’ve built a resilient new life and a bold new kitchen. Let me show you the flavors of the world.
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