“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
It’s funny how something someone said centuries ago can still resonate with us today. This deep thought was crafted by a Roman emperor you may or may not have heard of named Marcus Aurelius in his most famous book, Meditations, in which he shares various reflections and philosophies.
We think his insight here is especially important to recognize as in so many of our situations we often feel powerless in facing a tough diagnosis or another tough situation we can’t control. But while we cannot control our circumstance, we always hold the power to control our mind. We control how we are going to think about the situation. We control how we will let it affect us. And we control to what extent it’s going to consume us.
When we feel helpless or at a loss, when we feel we don’t have the strength to fight something, we can use the power of our mind to be our strength. We can gain strength by controlling the one thing we can control – ourselves. As we’ve seen through so many of our Survivor Sisters, sometimes this is half the battle.
Let’s introduce our April Survivor Denise Rodriguez who is a great example of this type of mental strength. Denise learned she had breast cancer after noticing an odd stain on her bra. This may be unfamiliar to many of us since typically we hear about finding a lump or a doctor spotting a mass on a mammogram, but noticing a stain on undergarments or pajamas is also something we need to pay attention to. A stain in this area of clothing can be from nipple discharge and in some cases can be a sign of breast cancer.
Red flags include bloody or clear discharge, which indicates it is not milky or milk-duct related; discharge coming from only one breast, which indicates it's not something natural to your body happening in both breasts; and also if the discharge releases on its own without squeezing or manipulating the nipple.
Still, even if you experience any or all three red flags, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer as nipple discharge can also be caused by an infection. However in any case, if you experience nipple discharge at all you should see your doctor right away to learn the cause of it and get treated accordingly. For Denise that's just what she did.
After noticing her stain, Denise and her sisters jumped into action researching nipple discharge and scheduling medical appointments to get to the bottom of what was producing hers. When she learned that her discharge was in fact tied to a breast cancer diagnosis she recalls feeling completely knocked down and “breathless” but as we mentioned, Denise’s mind was her tool to get back up and stay up.
"I have always been a tough woman, and this was not going to change that...it tested it but didn't change that."
Denise credits her sisters together with her husband Enrique and children Leilani and Jael for beefing up her resilience even more. "My fortitude comes from my family!"
She remembers her family being her ears when her stamina was stretched to its thinnest.
“I was never alone, and in the moments when I didn’t have the strength to listen to the many doctors, they heard, and we beat this thing.”
But even during the most trying times of her journey, Denise stayed focused. "Breast cancer has a way of pressing fast forward and focusing all efforts on survival."
Denise, like so many of our sisters, has the Eye of the Survivor, that razor-sharp focus and determination we see time and time again through our family of survivors.
Today Denise stands cancer-free wearing a new layer of strength. "I survived and feel like Superwoman because of it!"
Denise, we know you’re celebrating a birthday this month and we are celebrating with you! We can’t wait to see you, and all our readers, next month to share more inspiration and information. Until then, as we always say, keep your Eye On Strength!