Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided to conduct an interview with one of the strongest women that I know, my Bonus Mom
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  While growing bald, throwing up, being physically weak, and seeing her life flash before her eyes, she has never failed to have a smile on her face. I have seen her laugh through the pain, remain positive during negative times, always finding a reason to smile. She has traveled the journey twice and has experienced it with her mother as well. I decided to interview my Bonus Mom this month, because I feel that it is so important for those to understand the side of the “Survivor”.

1. What was your first reaction when you heard the diagnosis? 

Disbelief. In fact, all I heard the doctor say was “Dear, I have bad news”.  I had to call him later that day and ask him to repeat everything.  I especially didn’t want to tell my Mom, she was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years before. I had to find some humor to help me cope. My first joke was “Of course the lump is in the smaller boob, now they’re going to take a chunk out and it will be even smaller”.

2. You are married with children, and so, you went through the diagnosis and treatment while being a wife and mom. What advice would you offer someone in the same position?

Stay positive, but get that good cry out soon.  Laugh at something every day, not just a little teehee…I mean a great big ol’ belly laugh!  When children ask what’s wrong, don’t lie.  You might not think they understand but give it a try, just don’t lie.  Trust your doctor and your family.  Don’t be afraid to lean on someone when you need to….and you WILL need to! Tell your family you need to LAUGH every day!

3. If someone has a loved one who is going through breast cancer (or any illness for that matter), what advice would you give them about things they can do to support their loved one?

Is there something that the people in your life did to help that stuck out to you? Be there for your loved one, but don’t be there ALL the time.  As a patient, we need our space and private time.  Keep a journal, write down your thoughts, feelings and fears. It’s actually good to look back at it several years later.  There’s a lot that happens that you won’t remember (yes chemo brain is real, you forget!)  There will be times we snap and almost bite your head off, but it’s just the chemo talking.  Family members need to talk through this too, it’s our fight but our families have to watch, it’s hard on them too.

My Mom was my hero, she went through this 3 times total, mine was her 2nd time around.  My husband was my rock, he seemed to know what I needed/wanted before I knew.  He was there to cook when I couldn’t and to hold my hand, a wet rag and a glass of water when I was sick. Remember ~ LAUGH!

4. Is there something in particular you want to share with someone going through cancer right now? Were there particular words or experiences that helped get you through the stress that you would like to share with our readers? Any particular coping mechanisms that helped you?

This time really IS about you and your health.  Be honest with yourself, doctors and family about how you feel.  Don’t hold it in.  

I found “the” nurse at my oncologists office who always had a smile for me, was always kind and even took my phone calls (sometimes right in the middle of me being sick). When I saw her on treatment day, I knew I would be okay.  

Keeping a journal helped A LOT.  So far, I’m the only one who has ever read it. Knowing what to expect helped, I wasn’t really surprised by much, everyone was as honest with me as I was with them. On the way to every treatment, I listened to Tim McGraws Live Like You Were Dying! That was MY song! Yep, Tim sang that just for me!

LAUGH! 

5. What is one positive thing about going through breast cancer?

You realize what is really important in life.  The saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” becomes your motto! I don’t let things bother me like I used to. And I LAUGH more!

Thank you for reading the interview with my Bonus Mom, Tina. She still involves herself in everything possible to support Breast Cancer. She takes part in auctions, is on a Dragon Boat racing team, raising money by creating Breast Cancer Awareness purses…she does it all! She is strong, she is positive, she is beautiful, she is MY Bonus Mom, and she is A SURVIVOR!