First Person: New book provides an interactive manual of important life skills

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Other News

Your Journey Beyond Breast Cancer: Tools for the Road

Louise B. Lubin, PhD

Every woman remembers the moment she heard, “You have breast cancer.” These words begin a long winding journey with potential roadblocks and detours.

Wherever one may be on their cancer journey, it is vital to remember that each person is more than a statistic. The path to follow must be the one that is uniquely right for that individual. At each turn, one will be faced with hard choices and must decide their priorities and how they want to live.

Medical treatment has improved dramatically over the last 40 years since I began working with cancer patients. I have found, however, that the challenges continue long after the doctor “releases you“ and states “all is clear on your scans.” Some challenges center around fear of the unknown and reoccurrence, loss, changes in relationships, facing mortality, and the importance of living in the present moment. Finding the way forward requires knowledge of one’s body, identifying the power of your mind and thoughts, and embracing the wisdom of one’s spirit and connection to something greater than oneself.

This interactive tool book is my attempt to give back to the sisterhood of women who have been my teachers. I have learned many life lessons, not just about cancer, but about facing any serious life challenge.

One important lesson is that each of us is unique and more than a diagnosis. I have learned we must accept that life is always changing. Uncertainty, therefore, is a reality of life. I have seen that life is not fair, and people do not always get what they deserve. Bad things happen to good people. We must learn how to accept what is, rather than focus on what should be. When faced with any serious life-threatening illness, there is never enough time when we fear our life might be shortened. It is a gift of love to those who care about us to communicate to them what we want and need while we are able to do so.

The word “healing” means to seek a new balance and wholeness which can occur even without a physical cure. We all need life skills when we are facing the challenging road to healing. It is not a journey we can travel alone and requires support and community. Many have shared with me that cancer changed their lives in profound ways. Not only their body, but also their relationships, beliefs about themselves and others, and their discovery of what is truly meaningful and important in their lives has been revealed on their journey.

My greatest hope is that what I have learned by traveling with these amazing individuals will help make others’ journey more manageable and help them find their way back home to their true self and healing.

Louise B. Lubin, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist in Norfolk. She has practiced adult, marital, and family therapy for 40 years.