Surviving and Thriving after Breast Cancer: An interview with breast cancer thriver Angelyn Rhode!
I met Angelyn Rhode through a personal development group called “I am 50 Million”. They focus on personal growth through personal training and improv and so charity work. When I read the people they were quoting such as Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, etc. I thought, “This is the group for me.” I have met many wonderful new friends in this organization including Angelyn. Her personal victory over cancer is powerful and one to share with the world.
Angelyn was only in her early 20’ies when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to her young age and the type of cancer she had it was obvious that she needed a double mastectomy or the cancer would most likely return. Also due to her young age it was recommended that reconstructive plastic surgery was performed during the mastectomy surgery all at once. The type of reconstructive surgery that was recommended was one where the lymph node muscle would be wrapped around her chest to help support the implants. She was told that this type of surgery was brutal. As Angelyn discovered, they were not lying! It WAS brutal! “My mother couldn’t watch me because I was in so much pain.” For an entire month Angelyn had to sleep on the couch surrounded by pillows at a 90 degree angle and walking was almost impossible. 65
Some people think of October as being fall with the cooling down of temperatures and kids are back in school and pretty soon we will be revving up for the holiday season. Before we get to all of those festivities we manage to color the month of October PINK! As in breast cancer awareness month!
Most people have been touched by cancer of one form or another even if they themselves have not been diagnosed, rather have a family member or friend or co-worker who has had cancer or is currently battling cancer.
Fear is Our First Response
The first thing that occurs when someone receives a potentially life threatening diagnosis is fear. The mind goes blank while trying to wrap your brain around the concept of what this diagnosis means to you and how it will affect your life. How did this get there? What is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my family? How will I be able to afford taking off from work? Do I have health insurance that will cover this? How painful is this going to be? Will I survive this? Will it come back later in my life? 67
From an Oncologist’s Perspective
I was fortunate to have access to a friend of mine who is also an oncology nurse, Teal Stocker, Quality Assurance Manager, RN, BSN, OCN, CCRP. She was gracious enough to accept taking time out to answer some questions I had about cancer treatment.
Reactions at Initial diagnosis
When a person is initially diagnosed with cancer, universally they feel numb. Once a person is given the diagnosis of cancer, they don’t hear anything else that is said after that during that doctor’s visit. Because of this, Teal recommends bringing a friend or a family member with you to the doctor’s office who is able to collect the information given at the time the test results come in.
Changes of Emotions Through Treatment
Other emotions that Teal sees patients go through are disbelief, anger, depression, and questioning “why me?” Eventually most people come to a place of acceptance. One of the biggest issues is that the patient feels as though their life is out of control. In the medical field the term “stabile” is good yet can be discouraging because what is means is that the person still has cancer. It just is not growing. 63