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We all have something from our past that we are not proud of. I was guilty of allowing my past to control my present. I refused to grow or make changes, and let the past go. I clung onto the belief that I was a victim, and became addicted to unhealthy relationships, lifestyle choices, and habits.

I was forced to address these parts of myself while on holiday during March break of 2017. I found what felt like an old chicken bone on my right breast. They found four tumours and immediately booked me for a bilateral mastectomy along with chemotherapy and hormone therapy. All this wreaked havoc on my mind, body, and soul. At the time I remember thinking how much of an inconvenience cancer was on my status quo. This forced me to finally face all the demons from my past and rebuild my life one healthy baby step at a time. 

People often say that you must love yourself to be loved, and give love to others. Self-love is difficult for many women who are busy loving everyone but themselves. We can lose our identities as mothers, and wives and forget who we really are. 
 My journey with cancer helped me to love myself again. Cancer strips you of your dignity, and takes away all remnants of your former self, and sometimes that's not a bad thing. For me, it gave me a chance to be reborn and to redo what I now call the “Wasted Years of My Life.”

I had lived my life dangerously, taken risks, and rarely included self-care as part of my routine. Getting your nails done ladies is not self-care. My routine was work, eat, drink repeat. Sometimes I even slept. All the years of neglect finally took its toll. There was a time during my cancer treatment where I'd given up, and I no longer cared about anything. I started drinking even smoking cigarettes; I just didn't care. I was angry at the hand that life had dealt me as a child and now as a grown woman I was enraged. WHY ME?

No matter what each of us have lived through in our childhood, or the challenges as an adult, be they financial, personal or related to one’s health, we all have choices. We either get bitter or we get better. I realize today that I had lived my life up until recently being bitter. Somewhere in those dark times while battling cancer I found the strength to carry on by keeping faith and asking the universe for support. I lived the life I did prior to my diagnosis to escape pain that I was holding inside from my past. I truly believe that cancer came to me to transform me into the person I was intended to be. I guess you could say it was yet another tough lesson I had to learn. 

The BRAC test is used to determine a possible cause for breast cancer. I tested negative. Other than this test, it seems that lifestyle is the dominant factor when assessing risk for breast cancer. It seems nearly impossible in our culture to not live a life that revolves around weekend partying, which might include poor health choices like alcohol, smoking, and poor eating habits. My oncologist told me that one to two drinks a week is a maximum amount for a woman if she does not want to be at higher risk for breast cancer. In fact, he told me it increased the risk by over 30%. One or two drinks!! Most of my friends would drink one or two bottles at a time, myself included.

The moral of this story? Love yourself for all you are, and all you can become. Let’s show the next generation of women how to love themselves. Beginning today, include self-care in your daily routine, make better lifestyle choices and start loving yourself unconditionally; Not when you lose the 25 lbs, land the high paying job, when the kids move out or next week. Do it today! No matter what life has thrown at you, the darkness will end, and the light will shine again, if you let go of the past and make each day matter. 

I am happy to say I am cancer free and living a clean happy and healthy life and it just keeps getting better.

With Love

Author: Jen Hewson

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