Cindy Hoard

Inspirational Author and Psychologist

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If you have read my book, you know that I have survived two different diagnoses of breast cancer. Needless to say, I cannot begin to stress the importance of ongoing screening and self-care, especially in this vital area of our body. Yes, men, you can personally be vulnerable as well and should be doing self-examination.

Amazing Resources
There are so many new resources for treatment of breast cancer, and they just keep learning more. After my first diagnosis, chemotherapy was recommended. What is interesting, is that the same oncologist treated me 7 years later and, in the meantime, the interpretation of a score that is used to determine the need for chemo and/or radiation was adjusted based on ongoing research. It turns out that I was just on the borderline of the need for chemo the first time and that the by the second time, it would not have been deemed necessary based on the same score. I was very fortunate that the second time between choosing to have a double mastectomy and results of follow up pathology, I did not need chemo or radiation.

Find Out About Additional Support
There are many organizations in our communities that offer various types of support for patients with cancer and their families. Here in Arizona the Wellness Community is an amazing resource. The organization offers many activities. There are special interest classes such as yoga, crafts, cooking and support groups. These are all free services. There are also often presentations by top medical professionals about specific types of cancer and ongoing research. I had the long-lasting experience of a support group that started at the Wellness Community and has continued independently for over 12 years. We are gifts to each other and have shared so much more than even our cancer diagnoses. Gilda Radner’s husband Gene Wilder started the Wellness Community idea many years ago and there are organizations all over the country. There are also support groups for family members of patients diagnosed with cancer which can be invaluable.

Reach Out for Support
There IS NO SHAME in seeking out help during the trials of cancer or other significant stressors. It is not about weakness or wanting pity, it is about support that you may or may not be able to return in the future, but you are worth it, as are your family and closest friends. Support can take on so many different forms from transportation to treatments, prayer lists, offering meals, going for a walk, going for a ride even if you cannot actually go shopping, or sending a rare Thinking of You or Encouragement card via snail mail! Do not underestimate the benefits of building support systems, even letting family and friends help you build them.

Put Self-Care First (It IS NOT selfish)
Whether you are diagnosed with cancer, a chronic health condition, mental illness or find yourself in constant stress, taking care of yourself should ALWAYS be first. You are only valuable to others when you have the capacity to share and care. Every one of us has times in our life when we must put self-care first. That can take so many forms, but one thing you always have available to you is breathing yourself into the present moment. This helps us refocus, redirect our attention and most importantly tune into our body to see what we are feeling and what we need in any given moment.

Be sure you are taking in cleansing breaths whenever you think of it to help you stay in the present moment. You will automatically breathe whether you pay attention to it or not, but conscious awareness of breath makes a huge difference.
Take care of yourself!