Sunday 2 October 2016

Day 2 #pathways2resilience ~ Naz

Special Feature Edition: Pathways to Resilience: Embracing our Vulnerability, Celebrating our Resilience

The other side of fear and the road to resilience: The becoming of the Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer

When I was undergoing chemotherapy, I was not thinking of how I would be re-building the life that breast cancer had left me with. Rather, I was thinking of whether I will stay alive to see my daughter Ella, who was only three at the time, grow up and blossom in the many ways I was picturing her. My research, my students, and the history of my pioneering career like a fast train running before my eyes. Too fast for me to relive the moments. Where was this train going? The picture was blur. I stopped looking.

You can consider that the purpose of life is two-fold: to survive and to survive well. Now that I am three and a half years post diagnosis, I ask myself if the two are mutually exclusive. When survival is threatened by an incurable disease can the mind turn to bettering the quality of the uncertain time it has left? It will need much resilience and cognitive efficiency. How can it achieve this when it is exhausted, tortured, and highly vulnerable?

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of malignancy in women worldwide with increasing rates in younger women. In the UK alone, every 10 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Spectacular advancements in medicine enable women to live longer. But, the psychological cost of trauma and treatment related side effects continue to plague the lives of these women with fear of recurrence constituting a major threat to cognitive and emotional health, and rates of anxiety and depression looming high.

October 2, 2015, felt like the right time for me to rise to the challenge. My expertise on building resilience in anxiety and depressive vulnerability was to be extended and applied to a population in most need of it, women with breast cancer. Ladies who continue to thrive in spite of their vulnerability; who continue to work, look after their children and families and contribute to society in fruitful ways.

Today, we celebrate our resilience by embracing our vulnerability one year on. Our funded research continues to prosper findings that are shaping the way for future interventions to improve the quality of life in our lovely ladies. The road is windy and rocky at times but we are on the right path. The road to resilience has no ending, because we are learning how to turn our vulnerability into our strength. We will never break.

Along this path, I met Tamsin and Vicky, the two sisters I had longed for all my life, the deputy heads of our centre, who continue to support and flourish the centre and our private group in unimaginable ways. I met Jenny and Anita, our ambassadors, who bring much insight, guidance and interaction to our group. All our members: you are heart and soul of the centre. And Jess, my PhD student whose research is at the forefront of building resilience in women with breast cancer. I want to tell her, like I tell Ella, that I will be there in person or in spirit to see you rise to the star that you deserve to be.

#panningforgold #pathways2resilience
#bcresiliencecentre #breastcancerawareness

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