Tips on how to forget your health worries – My “New Normal” is all about ‘fun’

This entry was written by Amy Lessack, Senior Vice President and Regional Development Manager for Wachovia Bank:

This is my first blog so I hope I am doing this right. I am going to share how I am living my “New Normal” after being diagnosed with metastatic breast in 2008 when I was 43.

Well, what I learned when I was first diagnosed in 2002 when I was 36 is that every day is a gift.  Now, I am sure that sounds very trite and I don’t mean it to be.  Believe me, there are still many days that don’t always feel like a gift.  However, to have the day, even if it is a crappy one, is still one more day alive. For me, that’s a good day.

 Every day I try to do the following:

  1. Smile and laugh. 
  2. Do something fun – either with friends or by myself.  Now – this can be really hard. There are many days that are not fun due to treatment, work, etc.  But even if it is reading a page in a book that’s not work related or laughing at something on TV (I love the Daily Show – I am a huge Jon Stewart fan) there is always something that’s fun that you can appreciate.
  3. Make sure I do my “mantra” every day and thank my guardian angels.  These are family and friends who have passed away who I thank every day for their love and support. I make sure their names are spoken at least once a day and the universe hears their names.
  4. Plan lots of trips.  And I mean – lots of trips. I don’t let the grass grow too long under my feet.  Trips can be a day, overnight, domestic, international. Because of my job I have had the opportunity to travel all over the country and because I am still single (something I still need to work on) I am able to stay weekends and explore, see friends, and just enjoy everything that is local from food to theatre.
  5. I do a big vacation every year. My favorite vacation is to go to my summer camp for a week and just play – like I’m in my 20s again versus my 40s. My goal is always to see that I can make it through the week and do all of the activities:  water ski, sail, ropes, and just play! 

It’s a great place to erase all of my health worries and work worries.  It is the place where I am most me. I just have fun. Hmmm….that word keeps coming up. Bottom line – gravitate to something that you love to do and do it – share it – give yourself gratitude – give yourself grace…

Amy Lessack embraces everyday that she is alive. That in itself is ‘fun.’

Live in the Philadelphia area? Join LBBC at 6pm tonight at the Philadelphia Marriot West and learn how you can embrace your “New Normal” at our FREE educational networking meeting, Metastatic Breast Cancer: Living Your “New Normal” Every Day. Call 610 645 4567 to register today.

15 thoughts on “Tips on how to forget your health worries – My “New Normal” is all about ‘fun’

  1. Hi Amy,

    Your story is very similar to mine. I was first diagnosed @ age 35 in 2000. I stayed cancer free until Feb. 2009 and now I am also metastatic. I am currently on weekly chemo which believe is my definately my “new” normal. I am married with children and don’t have to work outside the home anymore…thank God but I too try to relish all my days and count my blessings. I would love to keep in touch with you as we have such similar struggles that I am sure we could support one another. I live in Florida so let me know the way to get in touch with you if you want. Hugs, Faith

  2. Hi Amy!

    I was diagnosed with MBC in 2009. I was always a positive, upbeat person and yet this diagnosis had turned me into someone with a totally different personality. Though I wasn’t going to let it control me. As treatments and time went by with good results I have resorted back to my positive, fun-loving and embracing life kind of woman.
    I too have fun everyday no matter what it is! I will continue to do so!

    Stay strong. All of us MBC thrivers are in this together.

    Sue

  3. Dear Amy-
    Our stories are so similar. Diagnosed at 35, mets at 40. But here’s the really good news: I’m 58. Be well, have fun. And keep at it.
    Fondly,
    Deb

    • Hi Deb. My name is Stacia Weaver. I manage and assign blog topics for this site. Thank you and all of those who share a personal story on account of Amy’s blog! These interactive discussions play a role in giving women hope. Would you be so kind and email me at Stacia@lbbc.org. I would love to assign you a topic where you can discuss you long-time survivorship of 18 years. As a women living well beyond metastatic breast cancer, your entry will be relatable to many women who are seeking to hear stories about women with this specific disease who have survived a long journey and are living with the best quality of life! Talk to you soon!

  4. Hi Amy,
    Thanks so much for sharing your blog. You are such an inspiration. My initial diagnosis in March, 2006 was Stage IV breast cancer. I have been on chemotherapy for the past three years straight and like you, I continue to work full time and try to live each day to the fullest and with grace and gratitude. Thanks to Deb as well for letting us know that you have lived with mets for 18 years–amazing! You give all of us metsters hope! Thank you to LBBC for being there for us as well.

  5. Dear Ladies, Dito, dito, dito! We have life, my sister and mother both had to leave there space on this great earth at 52 years old (each from breast cancer) and now myself with the wonderful diagnosis (but early detection-not metastatic), a bi-lateral mastectomy, Pectoral reconstruction (2 surgeries) and about to embark on my 3rd just after getting back to some semblance of normalcy ( implants are going south). I have developed a state of happiness that is different from my life” before cancer”.

    I now work with women recovering from all kinds of stages and issues related to Breast cancer (www.thehealingchest.org) and the one thing that stands out is that we are strong and positive and can truly make things happen inside and out. I have also grown to hate the word “survivor” as to me that implies that we are just getting by. On our bad days we do struggle through, but we do that as women warriors as we know there are going to be goods days too. I like “thrivers” better.

    It is a journey, lots of hugs, warm smiles, and good times celebrated. We have life! Susan

    • Dar Susan,

      I also had a bilateral mastectomy. I am still having pain in my pectoral area and have tried physical therapy, but it didn’t help. PT just made the pain worse.

      Why did you have a pectoral reconstruction and what kind of doctor did the surgery?

      That stinks that your implants are going south. How long has it been since your mastectomy and what kind of cancer did you have?

      Nancy

      • Dear Nancy, I am so sorry this has taken me this long to reply, I just found your questions buried deep in my computer.
        I had the implant reconstruction, which is done by a Plastic Surgeon, because it is overall the least invasive of all of the reconstruction procedures. I I was 60 when I started on this whole thing and I feel our healing is a longer process at this age so did not want to make the process possibly more complicated.
        I am sorry you are still having pain. One of the reasons I started The Healing Chest Yoga classes for women is that I myself was not finding any venue that was actually helping to restore my battered and weakened body with gentle stretch and knowledgeable strengthening. I too went to physical therapy and had message. It felt wonderful but my take is that these procedures are passive manipulation. In order to get true results we need to actively engage in exercise that is very specific to our needs that have been created by the surgeries we have had.
        We need carefully guided stretching and strengthening exercises that have been created specifically for what we are experiencing as a result of Mastectomies and what ever kind of reconstruction we have had. And these exercises need to be done multiple times a week for up to a year. It took me a good year of diligently practicing a minimum of 4 times a week. At about 10 months after last surgery I realized that the tightness that felt like a tourniquet around my chest, and that weird nerve pain that occasionally felt like someone was poking me with a hot needle, had all subsided. I could stand tall with my shoulders back, chest open and feel quite good with easy full range of motion.
        So if you could find someone in your area that offers such a program, go for it and be obsessive about attending and you will have results. But if you only “dabble” i.e. once a week and sometimes missing which makes your attendance at two or 3 times a month you will not have results. Go for it and good luck. And any other questions, please feel free. Susan

  6. I am so happy I stumbled onto this blog. My story is similar to yours I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 37. It metastisized in 2009. I go in every three weeks for herceptin and take Femera daily. I too live each day as a gift from God. But I am struggling with the constant thoughts of when will this cancer be out of “remission” I pray I can see my boys graduate from high school, my oldest is a freshman, youngest in the 6th grade. Knowing there are others with similar situations and amazing stories to share helps me feel that I am not going at this alone. Thank you for posting. Renae

  7. Ladies:
    You are all inspirational to a non-“metester, like myself. I am inspired to
    work harder and get every ounce of enjoyment from my life, just the way I am. We all have a propensity to be so busy and take everything just as it is and for granted. We fail to understand or appreciate the time that we are granted.
    Like it or not, you all “get it” the essence of living a real life, while the rest of us are just purposely muddling through.

    Your illness has enriched your being in a strange pervasive way, that of course, you would have never elected. The realization of how precious life is , is the un-welcomed gift you have been granted. How wisely you arae using your energy to laugh it up.

    God bless all of you for your inspirational wisdom to the rest of us, unconsicous ones.

  8. You are all a wonderful inspiration. When I was diagnosed initially with metastatic breast cancer in 2007, a month before my daughter’s wedding I was devastated. I went to a doctor who gave me what I call the “look” that says, I can’t do anything for you. I proved him wrong. Here I am 3+ years and hoping for more and living life!

    I find that I cannot relate to all those women who have early stage breast cancer. Our disease is so different from theirs. We are constantly fighting. It’s good to be in touch with women I can relate to. I just wish that there where LLBC chapters in my area so i could meet some of you!

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