I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at 47. Whilst I knew there was a small possibility, I didn’t really expect my cancer would return along with an incurable diagnosis. But here we are.
If we know anything, it’s that life often throws us curve balls, this one being the biggest, shittiest one you could ever imagine. Being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer is unimaginable and something I still struggle to believe, even though I know it’s very real. As I walked out the hospital I remember telling myself and those I loved that I would beat this, that if anyone can I would. That I would defy the odds and live with this for a long time. This became my mantra and one I still tell myself most days.
As hard as it is to imagine, life goes on. Living with cancer is far from easy, but this diagnosis has driven me to try and live more vividly and fully than I had before. I may be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer but right now I’m well and not ready to go anywhere.
It takes an army to live your best life when life gives you lemons. Here’s some of the ways I cope:
I got busy living. Embracing life, enjoying the little things. I love my adventures and intend to live big.
This work is never ending. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. It applies more now than ever before. Facing my fears, choosing my beliefs and letting go of those that don’t serve me. All of this work is central to my determination and belief that I can thrive with stage 4 cancer.
Do your own research, read books. Make sense of your cancer and take control based on what works for you.
Be my best advocate
I have had to trust myself and the decisions I make. To take charge. It’s documented that patients who direct their own treatment fare better than those that don’t.
A strong reason for living
Focusing on all the reasons I want to keep living, rather than the fear of dying. Looking forward. To the experiences and adventures I’m yet to have. My husband. My family. My friends. My business. Early on, I was so terrified, I couldn’t imagine life six months out. Eventually once the dust settles I just started focusing on living instead.
They are indicators not inevitabilities. There are exceptions to every rule. All we can do is walk our own journey, and be grateful and determined to defy the odds
Understand my disease
I spent a long time reading and researching different protocols so I kew my options. I have tried to understand what my body is trying to tell me. How to nourish myself, to appreciate, to let go. I try and take it as an opportunity to change the way I treat my body and the environment around me.
Focus on healing
I have also learnt that maybe this journey isn’t about finding a cure. A magic bullet. It’s about healing. The type of healing that never stops. Everything I do is about trying to heal my mind and body. There are so many options. The important thing is to trust the decisions you make and believe in yourself. My life has taken on a new normal, and whilst it doesn’t fit my old view of what my life would look like, it brings different joys and appreciations every day.
I’m only a year into my stage 4 diagnosis. As you can imagine, it’s been A LOT. It’s a process of continuous learning, about myself, my disease, my healing. My focus is on filling my life with love and adventures and creating something amazing as a legacy.
So when life gives you lemons, shake yourself off, take a deep breath and make shit happen.
Sara Cohen is founder of luxe sustainable womenswear brand www.hakinakina.com. Having already recovered from breast cancer once, she was in remission for several years, until last April when she found her cancer had returned and was by definition terminal. 5 years ago, having recently recovered from cancer she was looking for swimwear that suited her active lifestyle and offered the high level of protection she needed to cover up her radiation burns. She was left with minimal options; so when she moved to New Zealand she decided to take matters into her own hands. Armed with a background in marketing and 5 years in women’s wear, she opened her own business and a line of swimwear to give women the freedom to play without compromising comfort, beauty or the environment. Find out more at hakinakina.com or connect on Instagram @hakinakina.active.