Patient tips Four supportive pillars I lean on as a cancer survivor

Four supportive pillars I lean on as a cancer survivor

When Sonia R. was 34 years old, she was diagnosed with stage 3-B HER2-positive infiltrating ductal carcinoma. As a devoted wife and stay-at-home mom to two young boys, the news rocked her world. She was determined not to let the diagnosis shake her spirit. “My faith in God helped me feel peace, that it was going to be OK,” she says. Then, seven years later, Sonia R. experienced a breast cancer recurrence and went through treatment at City of Hope Atlanta. Here, Sonia shares the four things that carried her through the initial diagnosis and recurrence as a two-time breast cancer survivor.

  1. Leaning into my faith kept me centered. When you’re facing a cancer diagnosis, every scan or appointment may make your mind race with all the “what ifs.” Mentally navigating cancer felt exhausting, but my faith and daily prayers helped me stay centered through every setback or difficult day. When I didn't know what to pray, I prayed the word of God. Releasing those thoughts helped me feel peace.
  2. Consider connecting with other survivors. Community is important, especially when you’re navigating a difficult chapter of life. Whether it's a specific cancer organization, a local church or extended family, remember you don't have to keep a cancer journey to yourself. You don't need to carry heavy things all by yourself. Having a community of fellow cancer survivors encouraged me to keep going. When I was first diagnosed and going through treatment, I wanted to talk to someone who was a one-year survivor. Now that I’m 11 years out, I met a 20-year survivor and felt inspired. Now, I try to help other women feel supported while navigating their “day one” with cancer.
  3. Take stock of your lifestyle. I’m a stay-at-home mom who never stays at home anymore. After my cancer diagnosis, my life—and daily habits—changed. Now, I’m really intentional about my diet and how often I’m moving my body throughout the day, and I’m passionate about helping others walk the journey.
  4. Don't be afraid to consider a second opinion. Before I found City of Hope Atlanta, my previous doctors told me there was nothing they could do for me, that I needed to go home and get my affairs in order. I immediately started knocking on doors, and it was my husband who found City of Hope Atlanta and worked with them to get all my paperwork and schedules in order. They were ready for me. Sometimes, you need that second set of eyes and ears—thank God for caregivers—to help you see or hear about things you may have missed.

A cancer journey can be overwhelming.

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