The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer
Perfect Bound Softcover
Cancer stories usually start with some kind of struggle or fight. This story starts with a song. “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? You may say to yourself, my God, what have I done?” These words rang true for Christine Egan. Many questions and stories circulate about cancer. Are you telling yourself you are a victim of cancer? Are you worried the cancer will come back? Are you stuck in the role of being sick? Egan made a conscious choice to tell a different story. The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer is part memoir and part guide revealing the all-too-true story of cancer in this country with a healthy twist. Rest assured—this is not a cancer story; it’s a story about health and wellness.
I have to start by letting you know this book isn’t about cancer; it’s about wellness. Tony Robbins asks, “What story are you telling yourself in your head?” The story I told myself was that I wasn’t sick; I was healthy. That’s right. I was a healthy person who just happened to have to deal with cancer. Cancer would not be my identity, and I would not be a walking billboard for it. I did want to be a billboard for health.
I always loved the idea of having a theme song. During my adventure with cancer, I had three songs that played non-stop in my head.
The first one I found while I was sitting in the chemotherapy treatment room. I was reclined in a dark brown leather chair surrounded by three young female nurses in hospital scrubs. My body was in a strangely semi-relaxed state, and I had a clear tube, twenty-four inches long, coming out of the upper right side of my chest. I could hear people talking to me, but it sounded more like mumbled background noise. The only words I could hear were the ones playing in my head. The sounds were from the eighties band the Talking Heads. I imagined hearing the following words repeated with a funky beat:
“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my God, what have I done?”
I felt like I had written those words myself. They sum up my cancer experience in three little lines.
I didn’t remember the name of that song until I started to write this book. I think the title is very appropriate for me: “Once In a Lifetime.” I still cling to the thought that this cancer adventure happened once in my lifetime.
You’ll hear more about the other songs as we go. Stay tuned.
How I Came to Write This Book …
The idea of writing a book started out as a joke. Whenever I met new doctors or their staff, I would tell them to be nice to me because I was writing a book and wouldn’t want them portrayed poorly. It was a fun way to break the ice with doctors’ offices, and it helped the staff remember me. The other silly line I used often was “Whoever sees my naked breast has to get in a picture with me.” If there was a doctor or staff member who was lucky enough to see my breast, they were lucky enough to get in a picture with me. It was fun when I walked into an office and people said, with a smile on their face, “Oh yeah, we heard about you.”
The book began as a way to help me heal. I didn’t want years to go by and let regret creep in. I wanted a place to capture my feelings about my time with cancer. My goal was to get my story down on paper while the thoughts were still fresh in my head.
As I wrote, the universe kept encouraging me to move forward with my book. I would write in the morning, and then I would run into someone later that day who reinforced something I had just been writing about. I would hear stories about friends struggling to find their way in the health care system. People who didn’t know I had cancer would comment on how great my skin and hair looked. Friends would ask me details about radiation. Someone actually asked me if my breast was black and charred from it. Right then, I heard the universe confirming that it was important for me to write a book. I could tell people about my experience and give them details about my treatment. I wanted to demystify breast cancer. With information comes power, and I want others to be powerful if this should happen to them, their family member, or their friend.
I also wanted to write this book because I felt like a mountain climber who had reached my summit. I now have this incredible view that I want to share. There are still many climbers down below, and not every climber takes the same way up.
Let’s get clear about a few things. I am not a doctor or a nurse, nor have I studied cancer for years. Thank goodness! I am new to cancer. As I write this, it has been in my life for only a little more than a year. Before my diagnosis, I knew people who had cancer, but it did not affect my life as profoundly until I got my own news. I quickly took it upon myself to become chief medical researcher (of cancer material), a great interviewer (of doctors), and a healthy chef (for myself and my family). I took responsibility for my body and my treatment. I never left any decision to be made solely by a medical practitioner. I did research, asked questions, said no, said yes, and when I needed to, kept my head down to get through what was needed to get well.
My intention is simple: I want to retell my story and shed some light on how I handled a difficult situation with a healthy twist. I want to let you know how I stayed positive, strong, and somewhat sane during the cancer circus. During my one-year unthinkable journey of cancer, I have navigated the health care system, made life-changing decisions, and all the while maintained a positive outlook on life. Some things helped me along the way, and I decided they were too important not to share with you.
So how did a healthy, unsuspecting mother and wife get breast cancer at forty-two?
After graduating college, Christine Egan started her career as an account
supervisor for an advertising agency, working on a major fast food account.
She left her corporate life to be a wife and mom. She pursued her passion
for health and nutrition by attending Th e New York School for Massage
Th erapy and Th e Institute for Integrative Nutrition. While starting a private
nutrition practice and serving as the director of a local food movement
organization; she discovered she had cancer. Determined to stay healthy,
Christine blogged about her cancer journey and ran a half marathon just
after completing radiation. She now lives with her husband, their three
kids, and Zoe the dog in Bayport, New York.
Perfect Bound Softcover (USD)
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