Breast Cancer Tests Both Physical, Emotional Strength

Source: Barbara Blake, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times / USA Today

A breast cancer diagnosis is about more than breasts. It infiltrates a woman’s social, psychological, emotional and spiritual realms in ways that no one who hasn’t experienced it can comprehend.

Martha Chapman, 71, of Asheville, N.C., likens her journey through cancer to being in a foreign land — alone.

“It’s like you’ve lived in Africa for two years and you tell someone, ‘I’m going to explain to you what it’s like,’ and you show them a picture book of Africa,” Chapman said. “That doesn’t show them what Africa’s really like.”

What a battle against breast cancer is really like is different for every woman who wages it. But there are commonalities that many will experience: a change in self-image after hair loss, guilt at an inability to carry a full load of mothering duties because of fatigue, worries about absences from work, awkward interactions with well-meaning friends, fear of no longer being attractive to a partner or spouse. And of course, the specter of death.

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