Corby-N-Breast-Cancer

Five ways I took back my power after a cancer diagnosis

When Corby N. was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in June 2019, her biggest fear, other than death, was being seen as a victim of cancer. As an elementary school principal, a mother of three, a fighter pilot’s wife, athlete and adventurer, she didn’t want her identity to change. Instead, Corby made the decision to meet cancer treatment head on with positivity, courage and strength. Here, she shares the five ways she embodied the cancer warrior spirit.

  1. Appreciate your “battle throne.” I welcomed Chemo Tuesdays. Chemo treatment was my chance to be on the offense, instead of the defense. As I sat down in my battle throne with family and friends around me, I pictured breathing in the power of my people (wishes, prayers and love) and imagined it mixing with my own personal strength and the expertise of the research and medicine entering my body. I imagined it flowing through me and obliterating my tumor. I was intentional about the moments I spent receiving my treatment. I envisioned the medicine working.
  2. Take pride in your body. I tried to exercise, eat healthy and give my body all it needed to do the incredibly strong, healing work it was doing for me. With my doctor’s permission, I ran as much as I could. When I couldn’t run, I walked. I drank a lot of water to help flush my system. I got sleep and rest to give my body time to battle. I ate healthy foods to replenish nutrients and give my cells strong building blocks for rebuilding. And every day, I thanked my body daily for its hard, healing work.
  3. Look people in the eye. I was sure that when I went out in public with my bald head and surgery scars, I would be met with downward glances, pity and sadness. I was terrified of that. Instead, in the grocery store aisles, I held my head high, smiled and looked people in the eye with confidence, strength and belief. My smiles were met with admiration, respect and a feeling of unity for my positive outcome. What we put out into the world comes back to us. Send your courage out, and you’ll receive strength back.
  4. Learn to love your scars. I never cover my scars. Scars are evidence that you are stronger than whatever tried to hurt you. Wear them proudly as a badge of honor and a symbol of your strength.
  5. Get your mind right. Before going to chemo, doctors’ appointments or surgeries, I would spend time intentionally breathing in positivity, confidence and health. I would imagine blowing out negativity, doubt and the disease itself. I would put on my awesome pink-ribbon cowboy boots and my Team Corby shirt. Then, I would set out, shoulders back and head high, to be the cancer conqueror that I was born to be!