I have found that many times a person does not want to share their breast cancer diagnosis. They may have a variety of reasons for feeling this way. It may be that he/she is a very private person and doesn’t want others to know about it. It may be because the person does not want to deal with the actions and/or reactions of the people that they know. After all, it is more than enough to deal with your own emotions at a time like this without having to deal with others. It may be that others will think of them as weak at this time or in the future because of the cancer. The reasons go on and on but the one that most often is spoken is that a person does not want to be defined by their breast cancer. However, this can cause a number of problems that could not be foreseen.
“So the next time that someone makes a choice about how they deal with their cancer and tries to define it by saying that it was based upon their not wanting to be defined by their breast cancer, perhaps you can look a little deeper and understand that this is really a cover up for what is really going on inside the person.”Barbara Jacoby
I can understand that you don’t want to have people look at you differently because you had or have breast cancer. It is tough enough to deal with breast cancer without being treated like you have a communicable disease. You don’t want to have others think that you can no longer do your job because your brain can no longer function properly because of chemo brain or that you can’t pick up a box or take care of yourself alone. You don’t want others to look at you differently because you have some scars that may be visible if you dress in outerwear that was your signature before surgery. And for many, you don’t want to engage in a relationship with a partner because that partner may not be able to deal with your physical changes.
There are no two ways about it. Breast cancer does change a person, not only during the time of treatment and recovery but for the rest of your life. With some people, they are able to adjust and truly they don’t care what others think. They are satisfied with having a mastectomy and not having reconstruction and presenting themselves to the world as is. For others, everything is done to restore themselves to as close to the original, or for some, better than before. But what is not understood is that none of these things define a person by their breast cancer.
From my point of view, this is a phrase that has absolutely no meaning. Breast cancer can no more define a person than any other disease. We are not defined by what we have but rather by what we do. For instance, some one may have a fancy car and a big home but that only defines what he owns and not how he came to possess those things. What defines him is how he or she behaves and how they treat others.
So the next time that someone makes a choice about how they deal with their cancer and tries to define it by saying that it was based upon their not wanting to be defined by their breast cancer, perhaps you can look a little deeper and understand that this is really a cover up for what is really going on inside the person. It you can, try to be patient with them until such time as they are able to be honest with themselves and subsequently with you in dealing with the underlying cause for sweeping everything under the “I Don’t Want to be Defined by My Breast Cancer” carpet. I know what they are doing because I did the same thing.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.