Breast Cancer During COVID-19
This is the first October since I’ve recovered from my battle with breast cancer, where I’m not flying across the country speaking to auditoriums full of women in honor of breast cancer awareness month. And to be honest, that just absolutely frightens me to the very core. Because even during this global pandemic, we cannot afford to neglect our breast health, to stop being vigilant, to forget about the fact that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. COVID-19 has not erased that statistic, and I am still as passionate as ever about sharing my message to hopefully help save lives. I’ve been motivating women for the past 40 years, and I will continue on this path to motivate women as long as I have a platform and the capability.
I think about my breast cancer journey all the time; I can’t look at myself in the mirror without seeing my battle scars. Since I’ve been through it, I know just how important it is to put yourself and your health first. I remember just how much I did not want to go to that first mammogram appointment. I was just so busy living my life: I had a new grandbaby, I was in the middle of filming two shows for TLC, I was running Bridals by Lori, and my husband was just diagnosed with cancer. I had completely forgotten about self-care and put myself on the backburner, and it was really through the insistence of the staff at Northside Breast Care Center that I am still alive today.
If I were to stand up in an auditorium today to speak about breast cancer during COVID-19, here’s just a short sampling of what I have to say:
- Get your Mammogram – I cannot stress this enough but please get your mammogram even during this global pandemic. You can safely go to doctor appointments, there are so many facilities that have made essential changes to put patient safety first and foremost. Don’t push it off because of either fear or because you’re just too busy. I know so many people still have their children at home either distance learning or being homeschooled. I cannot stress this enough, figure out a day when your partner or a caretaker can come and watch the kids so you can go to your mammogram appointment. Lives will be saved because of this essential test.
- Don’t put yourself on the back burner – My cancer experience has helped prepare me for life’s curveballs, even one as big as this global pandemic. I’ve learned the importance of taking care of myself – both my physical and mental health – and now is the moment to make sure you are in a good place. I like to think of the example of when the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling during a flight emergency. You first put your mask on before putting on the mask of your children or loved ones. It’s the same here, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost – make sure you are physically well, don’t miss any doctor’s appointments, make time for physical activity or exercise, eat right and get enough sleep, talk through anxiety with a professional or a friend, meditate or do your devotionals, connect with your faith and your family – whatever you need to do to keep yourself healthy so you can be in a good place to help get your family through this tough time too.
- Hold on to your resilience – I didn’t set out on this legacy, I never asked for breast cancer, and no one has wanted this global pandemic. But it’s what we do during the difficult times in our lives that matter. How we get through COVID now, and how we keep ourselves focused, positive, and put together, will set the tone for the rest of our lives. We are all going to look back at this time in our lives and remember the challenges – whether it’s homeschooling your children for a year or if you’re actively going through cancer treatment – either way, you’ll be able to say that you did it, you got through it, and you survived. It will make you stronger, and more resilient.
- It’s all about the mindset – I’m a better person because I had breast cancer but I would never wish it on anyone. It was a horrible time in my life, and I worried so many people in my family, but I approached it with a mentality where I said I can either sit here and cry all day long and have everyone feeling sorry for me or I can do something positive. I’m proud that I did not come unglued during breast cancer, and I’m proud of myself for not letting COVID get the best of me either. Sure, I had sad days then and I have a couple of sad days now – especially when I can’t get together with my friends or miss important milestones with my family – but I just rely on my faith. I knew I was going to get through breast cancer, and I know that we will get through COVID too.
- Appreciate Today – When facing a challenging illness like breast cancer, you learn to be thankful for every day. We should all be looking at every new morning and just spend time being thankful – for our good health, for advanced treatment options for breast cancer patients, for the health of our family, for living, and thriving another day. Just keep the faith and know that there is a better and more hopeful tomorrow.
How are you coping with survivorship during COVID? Are you currently going through treatment? We want to hear your stories! Please share it with us in the comments.