An Inspired A-Z Guide to Living with Breast Cancer

In December 2010 my number came up.

I was one of the almost quarter of a million women in the United States diagnosed with invasive breast cancer annually. You never think it is going to happen to you, but once you learn that 1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer that is the beginning of so many things you learn as a patient: many people touched my breasts; chemotherapy really is poison; breast cancer is not always pretty, in fact a lot of the time it is downright ugly.

So here are some tips I’d like to pass on for anyone who is living with breast cancer, to help get through some of the darker days:

FOCUS on yourself.

It is so rare in life that one has license to be a little bit selfish and this is one of those times. Whatever you need for YOU is ok, so let the world around you know that and don’t feel guilty about it.

FOOD and your relationship to it will likely suffer, especially during chemotherapy.

Eat what tastes good, again without feeling guilty about it. And more important, DON’T eat what doesn’t taste good. Your taste buds are shot, temporarily, but they will likely come back.

FATIGUE will be your companion.

Not a sedate kind of tiredness, but a bone crushing, muscle enervating weakness that will make it tough to move one foot in front of the other on some days. So just take it one day at a time; the days you can put one foot in front of the other, do it. The days you need to take a complete rest—do that too.

Remember, breast cancer is a disease, not a pink fuzzy rest stop on the highway of life. It’s ok to treat it that way!


Anyone can share their A,B,Cs of breast cancer on Madhulika Sikka’s Tumblr. All contributions are welcome! Click below.

breast cancer alphabet
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