ONE WARRIOR with Sarah Poyser
Sarah floated into my inbox earlier this year when she was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember reading her email and feeling her positivity glowing through the computer. She mentioned far more things that she was grateful for than things that clearly sucked.
You can tell by her story that she’s found all the silver linings and is emerging out the end stronger than ever before.
She's a mother of four but also an incredible artist. Another powerhouse warrior who is showing cancer who's boss. 👊🏽
Please enjoy her story and send lots of love her way. ❤️❤️❤️
What was happening in your world at the time?
I had just had my 40th Birthday two weeks prior, I’m so glad I had celebrated with friends and family.
I was just at the mum stage where I was starting to do more for ‘me’, my 4 young children aged 8,6,5 and 3 were becoming more independent. I was painting more and had my first exhibition recently, I was also busy with our hobby farm, mostly dairy goats.
As life was happening, I was keeping a check on some unusually swollen glands and a lump in my right armpit. The swelling eventually calmed down but the lump was still there. I recognized it was time to make a Drs appointment and so I made a thorough check and grabbed a huge lump that I couldn’t believe in my right breast…. Oh shit! I saw the Dr 4 days later, had an ultrasound and biopsy immediately, then on that Friday was told I had an aggressive cancer. By this time my breast was red and irritated.
I went crazy on the weekend. I felt like the cancer was growing every hour, it was so aggressive, I was so scared of it spreading. I emailed oncologists and local radiology owners to try and get appointments for the Monday to speed up my treatment options. The owner of the radiology business emailed me back on the weekend with appointments for an MRI and bone scan for the Monday morning, what a legend! It made me feel instantly more in control.
On the Monday while at my scans I hassled receptionists until I got an appointment with an oncologist on that Monday afternoon.
I had 3 tumours, the largest was 10cm, and HER2 and hormone positive. I was very happy that the cancer had not spread, but as my cancer was aggressive and stage 3 it was decided to start with an aggressive chemotherapy schedule which would kill any cancer that may have started spreading.
I started chemotherapy on that Wednesday which made me so happy, to start fighting as soon as possible. I just had to kick this fucker’s arse and do everything I could to fight.
Cancer in 3 words.
Fucked, Life changing, The creator of Warriors
PERSON: Such a big part of my journey is all the love and support I am so lucky to have. My husband is literally my other half, my parents, my sister and my brother, family, my best friend and so many wonderful friends. My in-laws, school parents, my parents’ friends, their support makes such a difference. I feel so loved.
SUPPORT GROUP: Rosie from the McGrath Foundation and the social worker from the hospital.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Bravery Co and my sister @saffcollective who sells breast cancer ear rings to raise money.
FOOD: My appetite has been great really. Only time I have trouble is recently when I had the flu during chemo and my taste changed and appetite was poor.
LIFESTYLE THING: I am saying yes more, I am trying to be more involved with the world. I have listened to Louise Hay – Your own Healing on youtube A LOT and am learning to let things go and not overthink as much as I used to. I'm taking control of the things I wasn’t happy with, having hard conversations and making changes. And ultimately loving more, hating less, letting things go, understanding everyone is doing the best they can and move on. A big part of this is loving myself and putting myself first more.Exercise and meditation every day.
EXERCISE: Since I was diagnosed, I have walked or ridden every day since, minus 5 days due to gastro and the Flu. This is a long term commitment. I understand that exercise is one of the few things that has been proven to help the success of treatment as well as how you cope with treatment.
BOOK: My brain is pretty fried so mostly I have been reading easy romance novels
PRODUCT: Peter Mac Mouthwash (I haven’t had any ulcers)
DRUG/MEDICINE: I have found acupuncture and Chinese medicine really useful
QUOTE: Putting myself first is good for everyone.
PIECE OF ADVICE: Accept help. Plan ahead, have things to look forward too. During the hump of my chemo I was pretty depressed and so booked a few days away with my family between chemo finishing and my mastectomy, just making the booking helped a lot.
RITUAL: Walking is my daily ritual, no matter how bad I felt from chemo or even a cold, I walk. Sometimes not far, but I walk. And meditation is something I am working hard on that is paying dividends with sleep and calmness.
HOW TO STAY SANE: I have got into the Headspace App. I have trouble with anxiety and worrying. I am now using this app to learn how to meditate, to sleep and to handle anxiety. When I started with a 3min meditation I was so tense my legs seized up and I was jittery, but that night I slept? Amazing. Walking and spending time focusing on stuff other than cancer.
Golden tip for the friend and family of a cancer warrior.
When your cancer warrior is down or sad, agree with them, tell them it is fucked and how well they are doing. Don’t try and put a positive spin on everything, it takes too much of our energy to always look on the bright side and we are being pushed through the cancer wringer, we need ‘this is fucked moments’. Then try and talk about something not cancer related x
Sarah rocking her Bravery Co scarf.
The worst part of cancer?
The fear of dying. The fear of my loved ones not having me, my kids and husband especially.
The best part of cancer?
The wake up call. I wasn’t living my life how I wanted to, for me or my family. We are happier and healthier already in many ways.
How has the whole cancer ride changed you and your life?
I am feeling the love more for people, we are exercising and spending more quality time as a family, we are seeing loved ones more often, we are more active and more happy.
The negative is the fear of dying which is something I am working on. Now I have finished chemo I am moving into ‘cancer survivor’ mentality. I have a mastectomy this week and then radiation, but I feel the cancer is gone now and I want to think accordingly. I believe in the power of the mind and my mind is strong.
What has it taught you?
The importance of loving myself and others and of knowing what makes you happy and living life to match that.
To think the way you want to live, be that person, act on it.
Cancer theories: Do you think you were destined to get cancer? Or did something happen along the way?
Truth is I sort of think I was destined. Whether I had some dark thoughts or stale mate that called it into my life. I feel like I needed it to wake myself up and live my life to the fullest. I wish I didn’t and that I had pulled myself up, but . . .
Saying this I don’t believe that this is in any way the case for all people that get cancer or the only cause of cancer. But I do think a healthy mind and body can influence these things, as maybe can the use of roundup on so much of our food, so many things may be involved.
In my case I think I am in control and can conquer my cancer.
Any other nuggets worth sharing? I think instead of saying ‘Why me’ say what am I gaining from this experience.
I honestly have gained so much wonderful stuff from this experience.
Even though I have hated it and am terrified a lot of the time and still have so much shit stuff to deal with like a mastectomy. radiation, hormone therapy, reconstructive surgery, 12 months of Herceptin etc. which I am dreading.
I really am thankful for the love me and my family have received and share in, the life changes my husband and I and in turn our children have made, the mental health changes, fitness, and many more things.
I don’t know what that says about me? Maybe I was just a total sad sack lol but I am grateful. My treatment is working well which may influence these feelings, I’m not sure but look for the good, stay positive, the mind is very powerful.
Golden tip for new warriors.
Say yes to love and support and exercise.