ITW n°60: Maria - K fighter.
today the beautiful (in the broadest sense of the term) Maria, 29 years old, dreamer, traveler, passionate about everything, like the circus, culture, everything that can enrich this sometimes brutal world, tells us with keen sensitivity , and a lot of wisdom in his fight against a K in the breast, discovered last September.
Great discovery, from an inspiring and inspired fighter.
Let's get started:
Who are you ?
Maria, passionate, rather joyful and traveler, I am a psychologist, a dreamer in my spare time, but also a former gymnast, cancer patient and claustro, I like to discover again and again... Explore and feel free..
First name: Maria
Where do you live: Limoges but that's just for the duration of my treatment because Ardèche where I lived for a year did not have a sufficiently large hospital and after my radiotherapy, I intend to take off again elsewhere but don't know not yet where!
Why do you agree to share your story today?
I find it great to be able to share our profiles, and to discover how each of us presents ourselves, surpasses ourselves and transforms ourselves by living with... Then, it's therapeutic at the same time, putting words to what I live, make sense, refocus on myself and take stock of my journey.
What are your qualities (in a few words)?
Inspired, non-fatalistic, passionate, determined & combative
What are your passions (in a few words)?
Gymnastics, circus, dance, everything that involves bodily expression and the artistic world in general: music, photographs, cinema... Everything that makes the world easier and that provokes a sensation, an emotion, everything that allows express what we have most profoundly.
What K (what cancer - grade if you wish / stage ditto):
Breast cancer, HER2+++, grade II
When was it discovered? How old were you ?
September 14, 2015, I was 29 years old
Under what circumstances was it discovered?
Occupational medical examination
If you are currently undergoing treatment, or in remission (for how long?)
Still in treatment, I have finished chemo, just had surgery, I still have radiotherapy, Herceptin courses and hormone therapy…
Can you summarize your (K fighter) story for us ?
K was naughty, it took him a while to show himself and to finally be detected as clever!
It was this summer, in season in Ardèche, working as a leader in a campsite, during the medical examination, doctor G, seeing my nipple, sent me for an emergency mammo and ultrasound; then subsequently, a biopsy.
But the doctors told me not to worry because I was young and it seemed benign... After results, I was told it was a benign tumor, I just had to have surgery for it. So relieved, I decided to go for surgery in a larger hospital in Limoges. The first appointment with the doctor in Limoges was destabilizing since she told me that an emergency biopsy had to be done because according to her, the previous results did not correspond to the clinical examination. A bad diagnosis was therefore made in Ardèche. And on September 14, the verdict came: “Unfortunately, the biopsy results are not good, you have cancer.”
What treatment did you have?
Chemo: Taxoter and FEC100 / 6 sessions
Radiotherapy: I will have 33 sessions
Operation: lumpectomy and lymph node dissection
What tips directly related to K do you want to share?
(your feeling with the doctor, your good treatment organization plans, anything that seems useful to you ;))?
Having had a rather chaotic journey regarding the diagnosis, it took me time to establish a bond of trust with medicine; I initially maintained a rather wild relationship with the medical profession. But little by little, the doctors who took my story into account were able to re-establish a climate of trust with me.
I really respect one of the PMA doctors, she explained things to me very well. To preserve fertility, I had one ovary removed and then frozen, so if I have complications having a child, my ovary will be re-transplanted. They are very good in PMA in Limoges. One of the only university hospitals in France to do this, there have only been a few cases of births in the world and 4 in France with an ovarian transplant.
- My diary of course to note down all my appointments but also to cross off past chemos, it's good for morale to see everything that has been covered. Given that it is a phase of our life where it is difficult to project ourselves, living each present moment and looking back at all the stages covered provides real pleasure.
- Ask all the questions that torture us.
How did you live the day before, the same day, the days after chemo?
and what were your tips?
1/ chemo: (ex: your tips, the helmet, your affinities with nurses):
Chemotherapy: the day before, I tried to stay calm, not to do too much and the few days after too because fatigue is definitely present during chemotherapy... I am lucky not to having had almost no side effects apart from this invisible and invasive fatigue and some joint pain... And sometimes, cracks occur; I went through several emotions (fear, anger, etc.) but I believe that it is inevitable to go through that during the course of a K…
On the big day, I always went with one of my loved ones so that it went faster and some times, I found myself with another K. Fighter in the room, which allowed us to share our chemo moments and our not very pleasant meals... But also to discuss illness...
Chemotherapy, here we go, it's always distressing and unpleasant but we have no choice so we might as well spend this time as best as possible; I took the opportunity to read, Rose magazine in particular, it was a good support and I always had my cell phone close to me to chat with my friends, it passed my time...
2/ hospital: (e.g. contact with nurses / doc / caregivers):
As for the doctors, nurses and caregivers at the University Hospital, RAS, who are rather attentive and available; however, just the feeling that when I entered this space, I was launched into a labyrinth of the infernal machine of cancer...
Conversely, the mother and child hospital, in which my operations and some consultations took place, seemed more familiar to me, the human dimension was more present there, I felt better there even if it was a painful place. because there were many pregnant women and newborns who referred me to a sensitive subject concerning me, not yet having children.
And yes, I also want to add that thanks to one of the nurses, I discovered during my fourth course of chemo that I will have to do 15 courses of herceptin after my operation. This caregiver thought she had made a mistake by telling me that but no at all, I thank her again because without her I don't know when I would have known, my oncologist hadn't told me at the time. announces stages of care!
Put on the fridge gloves for your nails!
Bring something to occupy yourself: a loved one, music, series, reading, etc. But also small reserves of food that are good for the day of chemo (pompotés, yogurts, small sweets) and a blanket if we are cold.
3/ “parallel” medicine, if you have done it (what disciplines, what were their benefits):
Knowing how to express myself and channel my energy, my anxieties through bodily expression before the K, and something that I could no longer really do during the treatments, I decided to take singing lessons in order to be able to externalize in a In another way, it was revealing and rich to start something from scratch. I learned a lot and it did me good…
Otherwise, I made infusions in the evening with zuurzak leaves from the Amazon brought back by my boyfriend's mother and then friends offered me a pot of aloe vera jelly to take as an infusion too, it's excellent . In the morning I drank lemon juice with honey.
I also used aromatherapy with my essential oil bible to mainly alleviate joint pain and fatigue.
What did you do to clear your mind/clear your head (before chemo, surgery & co)?
To take my mind off things, when I was in the lowest moments of energy, I simply liked to get some fresh air, take a little walk, listen to music to escape, sing... The series, films and documentaries were welcome too. I also took the opportunity to learn more about my illness by visiting various sites. Sometimes I would write down my feelings, painting too, it's therapeutic.
And when I was at the top of my energy, I needed to make the most of it: go out and explode a little, get fired up: parties, concerts and dancing, ... Sometimes, the need to go away for a few days to see friends elsewhere, taking a break and a change of scenery also refreshed me.
What practical “well-being/beauty” tips can you advise us?
1/ beauty: your essential products (e.g.: creams, varnishes, scars, oils, etc.)
Neutral soap then topialyse emollient cream (SVR laboratory) for the skin of the body.
Rose water and logona carrot cream for the face, it gives a healthy glow and in the evening, I use apricot vegetable oil.
Castor oil and tea tree oil for hair regrowth.
Vea olio oil for scars
Evonail for nails.
2/ look, (e.g. your favorite chemo, hospital, every day look to feel good):
Depending on my mood, a bit of a chameleon, it really depended on my days. If I knew I wouldn't do much, I liked to be comfortable so I preferred jogging or leggings. If it was a somewhat active day, jeans and a nice top and everything that goes with the holidays and the evenings, I liked to get ready, to make myself look good...
And on the day of chemo, I just wanted to be comfortable so look simple.
3/ daily (e.g. sport, food & co, meditation, reading, etc.)
I tried to readjust my life a little according to my degree of fatigue but often, it was calm after my chemo treatments for two or three days so I read, watched documentaries, series or films, listened to music, sometimes cooked...
Then, every week I take singing lessons and also driving lessons to finally get my license!… Living in Lyon for many years before, I never took it, it was time... In Ardèche, I had already started so I continue…
Being a former gymnast, I also sometimes do small stretching sessions, but I'm looking forward to being able to do a little more acrobatics...
I have a lot of trouble with meditation but I try sometimes because a psychologist friend gave me a link to do a little, it still remains complicated for me because as I already said, I was used to it. to exteriorize myself with the body. On the other hand, I started drawing and painting again, art therapy feels really good...
Regarding food, throughout the treatments, I always had a very good appetite and I did not deprive myself. Having a weakness for chocolate, I devoured it!…
When you are lucky enough to have an appetite, I think you should treat yourself without going overboard either, by having a healthy and balanced diet. Personally, I ate a little bit of everything and it was comforting for me to have a good appetite and eating well gave me pleasure, certainly, but also healing because it gave me energy to fight against K There are just mornings when I have trouble swallowing, so I take pumps!
4/ hair problem (eg: did you wear a wig, scarves, hats)
The hair, it takes a long time to come back and I can't wait to see it again!
At first I thought it was only a few months so I didn't really want to invest in a wig. I wore scarves, I liked it for a while but it's a long process even though I miss the alopecia and hair terribly so I decided quite recently to buy wigs. I am satisfied to find a semblance of hair, of femininity, then the chameleon effect with my various wigs, I like, we often have various facets to our personality so it allows us to express them through our wigs...
Were you concerned about the views of others, were you afraid that their views would change? What did you do to counter it?
No, the way others looked at it wasn't really a problem because I didn't feel looked at in a negative way, but what can sometimes be destabilizing is the interpretation of the scarf! Once, in the evening, I was lectured so as not to become radicalized as a Muslim, the situation was rather comical in the end; being with a friend who knew why I had a scarf on my head, we gave each other laughing looks, a real misunderstanding!
Once also, I was in a store to try on wigs with a friend and we were taken back to order because we were taking photos to see “how it suited me”, we were having fun in the cabin, the shopkeeper did not like it, he told us: “Here, it's for buying and not for acting crazy”, I replied to him: “If only you knew, you certainly wouldn't speak to me like That ". His colleague, having understood, (with my scarf on his head when he arrived) took him aside, the other came back to me apologizing a thousand times. But it was too late, I no longer wanted to buy from him, we left.
Otherwise, no, generally speaking, I wasn't really afraid of the gaze of others, it didn't really disturb me; in any case, it was not hurtful.
And if, perhaps just, the first times, when I stripped myself naked with my completely shaved bald head in front of my family, my friends, my boyfriend, without hair, it was a delicate, embarrassing moment, a very special feeling passes through us at this moment, revealing ourselves like this is strange, it's a sensitive moment but we get used to it afterwards and above all we know that it will grow back even if we have to be patient.
In the meantime, have fun playing and creating with our wigs and turbans...
What are the “nugget”/footed phrases (that you remember) that someone said to you during K and that you could have avoided?
Regarding fatigue, since it is invisible:
“Don’t be lazy, your cancer is an excuse! ”, I really took that very badly, I exploded with anger…
And the: “You, you are young, you are lucky, you will get through this because you have the strength, blablabla…”
That’s hard too, lucky you! I don't think so, no, I have other problems knowing that I haven't made my life yet, I don't have children yet, I still have everything to build... And as my doctor says : “At that age, we have other things to do than treat ourselves to cancer! ”
Otherwise, not too many others apart from small blunders which I don't hold against.
How did your loved ones support you?
My loved ones were there, pampered me and that’s already a lot! This is part of the healing for me.
A little disoriented at first because my whole life was changing.
Living in Ardèche for a year with my boyfriend, not having a hospital large enough for care there, I hesitated between Lyon, a beautiful city in which I had lived for 5 years where I had my bearings, Paris for the Gustave Roussy Institute and having a brother living 20 minutes from it then Limoges where part of my family and a very good friend live. I finally chose Limoges... And it's not bad for the treatment period.
My whole family was more than supportive, they supported me, my parents and my brothers, I owe them a lot... And my aunts, uncles, cousins have always been there during this long journey...
My friends, present and really awesome too ;)
A big thank you to them all.
Each one, with their personality, gave me what I needed in such a situation... I think that if they have to adapt to my illness, it is also up to me to know how to deal with everyone around me. For example, some of my friends are not comfortable with the illness, so they brought me lightness, we will talk very little about the illness with them and we will experience fun and light things which do good. With others, it's easy to talk about the illness, they aren't afraid of it, and even want to follow me through all the stages I go through, so it's supportive to be able to share and confide in one. a little bit about what I'm experiencing, it feels really good too. Some use humor, others need to pamper me, still others pray for me... In fact, everyone supported me with their personality. I have experienced different things with each loved one and that is what is good, it is this diversity which has allowed me to share my anxieties, my joys, my laughter, my dreams, my tears and my projects…
Then, I have never been so spoiled! Four friends from Lyon gave me a gift that I will not forget; they came to see me and gave me a sort of advent calendar and every day of December, I opened my gift with a philosophical phrase taped to each of them, it put me on my feet to start my day and it was full of little creative things: beads, macramé thread, fimo clay, paint box, it encouraged me to create, great idea, I recommend; and many other surprises were given to me…
My friends and family from the four corners of France took turns coming to visit me, they were all very attentive and as a result, the time passed more quickly...
And of course, my darling was an essential support…
Really, all of them were vital!
Thanks to them, I owe them a lot, I will be eternally grateful to them.
And what advice could you give to loved ones who accompany a K fighter?
May they support us by remaining themselves, while being a minimum of empathetic without falling into pity.
Do you find out about K on the internet?
Yes, clearly while paying attention to the sources, because we know that the internet is like the street, there are superb things and others totally stupid…
If so, does it make you feel good?
Yes, it did me good to watch all kinds of things about my illness: testimonials, films, documentaries. It allows us to confront it, to better understand what is happening to us, to better apprehend it with artistic supports: films, photos, and little by little, we learn to live with it…
If so, what would be the useful (internet) links that helped you during K?
Already your blog Charlotte, Mister K fighting kit, I find it well done and altruistic, I really liked Kiss of hurricane too, Nalie's blog with her great video “my hair evolution post-chemotherapy”, Tchao Gunther by Lili Sohn , Feminity and JY by la p’tits Julie, INCA, Rose magazine, and I forget…
What has the K changed in your life…?
(for example: your vision of the world, your priorities, your essentials, refocusing those around you, in your work, your philosophy..?)
I had to make an effort to refocus on myself, it was essential, to become more selfish but not in the negative sense of the word. Then, inevitably, priorities change, it's our fight first and foremost, to stay alive, the drive for life is diminished.
Really don't worry about bullshit and enjoy the little pleasures that life offers us, illness makes you humble and certainly wiser; realizing that life is both beautiful, it can also make nasty surprises and be a bitch so be careful, it is fragile, it hangs by a thread...
If at the beginning of the illness, I felt like a prisoner of what was falling on me, it is no longer the same, on the contrary, today, having done introspective work, sorting and reviewing what which prevailed in my life, I feel freer after this one and less grappling with trivialities,...
Then, I was already sensitive to it before the illness but I became even more curious about the world around us, the strength of beliefs, energies and nature, alternative medicine, spirituality...
Then, I think that what kept me going was also my aspirations, my desires and my projects; yes, continuing to dream and create your life is essential.
Lots of love and luck to all ;)
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Thank you inspiring Maria for this beautiful testimony full of wisdom :)
Many of you send me your testimonies, thank you for your precious trust, for this same reason, the broadcasts of your interviews will sometimes be broadcast in several months, but know that I keep and transmit absolutely ALL the testimonies that are sent to me, Thank you for understanding.
Please note that I do not retouch any Interview, they are completely free, it is your freedom, your story, I just add my personal touch with the illustration, they are delivered as they were sent to me ;)
NEVER GIVE UP!!