I have produced and hosted several television shows on breast and ovarian cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have learned a lot from the cancer survivors I have interviewed. I am reminded of the real value of life, how precious it is, and how unimportant our mundane challenges really are.
Last week I attended an event run by SHARE (self-help for women with breast or ovarian cancer). It was called Second Helping of Life, where New York City restaurant owners and chefs came out to raise funds for the organization. The tables overflowed with amazing gourmet treats, and the hundreds of people milling around were enjoying them and having a great time.
What I have realized through support groups like SHARE is that in our darkest moments, there is help and hope. We are not alone. Although I am not a cancer survivor, I am no stranger to support groups. When I was in my early 20s and going through some dark times -- thinking about ending my life -- I felt very alone. However, when I was about to leap out of a four-story window, something inside me counseled, "Reach out for help," and I did. I found a group and my experiences with them through the years has changed my life.
Living With Heart
When I am not in touch with my feelings, I start conjuring up thoughts that create fear and unrest. I have been impressed by the truthful sharing that happens in cancer support groups when women listen to a newcomer and offer encouragement. I've seen people come out of their isolation and share their deepest fears, frustrations, and dreams. When one survivor says, "I've been there and I have gotten through it," everyone's faith is stronger.
New ideas, new ways of thinking, and new habits are all a part of not isolating and reaching out for help. Life becomes exciting, fresh, and new. Many of the women I have interviewed were excited about their lives. They viewed each day as a gift. They had appreciation for the little things that they may have taken for granted.
If you have ever been part of a walk for cancer awareness and prevention, the heat of the crowd compensates for the chill of mother nature. Families and friends come out in support of their loved ones -- all are ready to put up the good fight. You can, too. We all know someone impacted by the disease.
For more by Helene Lerner, click here.
For more on breast cancer, click here.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.