How did you first find out you had cancer?
I actually found a lump when I was 36 but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 37.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I kind of had a feeling right from the time I felt the lump. So I was expecting it, yet I was still devastated. I was a single parent to an eight-year-old, and all I could think was, “How am I going to tell her?”
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
Dose-dense chemotherapy – Cytoxin and Taxotere; Neulasta shots; lumpectomy, followed by bilateral mastectomy.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
What surprised me was the depth of the physical pain I felt from the chemo and the shots. I suffered with severe migraines, bone aches, and stomach pain. I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but there’s really no way to envision it. You just have to go through it.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Fight back with food! There is such power in food. Healthy foods can fight illness, protect the immune system, provide energy, and even stabilize mood. Learning all about food gave me a sense of power in the middle of it all. There are no guarantees in this world – but why not give it a try?
How long have you been cancer free?
Four years as of September 19th, the date of my mastectomy.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Stress is bad for our immune system. So I’ve learned to find my voice when someone is treating me badly. Life is precious, so am I no longer willing to put up with that type of stress. If anyone in my life is rude or mean to me, I calmly tell them that the discussion is over until they can be civil. If they continue to be rude, I rethink the relationship.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Knowledge is power. Whether you have cancer or not, learning about healthy foods can make a positive difference in your life. But please don’t beat yourself up by trying to change what you eat overnight. Remember – stress is not good for you, either. Just make a realistic plan, and go for it. A plan with baby steps is still a plan!
Lisa Grey is a four-year breast cancer survivor. She is the founder and nutrition chef/blogger at Pink Kitchen and the author of a cookbook series. She is also a doctoral candidate for her Ph.D in Health Psychology. Lisa lives with her husband and 13-year-old daughter in Fort Lauderdale, FL.