The interesting thing about surviving breast cancer is how it affects your core values.  Suddenly your life is thrown off balance. A cancer diagnosis knocks you sideways emotionally. A masectomy changes you physically. Chemotherapy whacks your brain; for me it was like the two halves no longer fit together correctly. Your body hurts here and there, and sometimes everywhere.

Your core changes physically and emotionally, and the need to strike a new balance in your life is key.

The good news was that having a masectomy strengthened my core muscles physically. I no longer had the strength in my arms and chest muscles to lift myself out of bed,  slide into a cab, pick up a teapot of water, swim, swing a tennis racket, toss a ball or anything involving weight of six pounds or  more. I started using my core to compensate for my weakened upper body, from lifting myself up, to exercising on the elliptical trainer, to working on repositioning my shoulders and upper body when I walked. The result was that my stomach area grew tighter and the defined muscles and flatter stomach that had eluded me for years finally appeared. My clothes fit differently. I felt more balanced. The bloating around my middle from years of stress melted away.  And ultimately this helped me regain my strength in my upper back, shoulders and arms.

My core values also changed.  Some cancer survivors have told me they have learned to no longer “sweat the small stuff.” Well, you still do from time to time but your realize how silly it is to worry about things that may not really matter years from now. Your mind refocuses on what is important and what is not. You think about eliminating toxic food, toxic thoughts, toxic friends, and you focus on becoming centered. Today, I go with my “gut instinct” when I face challenges  – again, back to my “core.” 

The center of your universe changes when under going cancer treatment: doctors, test results, treatment, medication, family, friends, survival- this is your focus.

It should not take a cancer diagnosis to rethink your core values. If your world feels on edge; if your body feels out of whack; if your mind feels out of sorts- it’s time to restore your core. Ask yourself; and then write it down: “What are my core values?”

Who am I?

What makes me happy?

Am I living the life I want on my terms?

What really matters?

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