4. Gifts of cancer (and quarantine!)

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Carina and Mila, who are friends and colleagues, have supported each other on different parts of their journeys with breast cancer. We heard some common themes in their stories:

One of the big ones was the importance of putting yourself first, which they both had to learn over time when they started to feel the negative impact on their mental health. They also talked about how cultural norms sometimes created challenges for them in finding the support they needed and how it was important to recognize those barriers and find support in other ways.

The other that jumped out at me was trusting your instincts. They both gave examples of when they knew something was wrong before any official scans confirmed. This was important because they pushed forward in getting treatment rather than waiting, which would have meant more cancer growth. This was a big lesson for me personally because I am someone who has a tendency to defer to the experts which in this case, would not serve me well.

Last but not least, they both talk about the gifts they got from cancer, whether that was a second chance to address something you neglected, as in Carina’s case, or embracing vulnerability and in turn becoming fearless as Mila experienced. This rings true for me although, in my experience, the “gifts” were not apparent until a later time.

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