Dealing with Cancer Emotionally: Meet Ria
Proof that letting yourself feel all your feelings during the cancer journey will benefit your life
When Ria was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2018 at age 41, she started the process of dealing with cancer emotionally – but not immediately. “To be honest,” she explains, “I was pretty numb. It was not until I was actually healing from my mastectomy surgery when all the feelings – sadness, anger, anxiety, and being afraid – all came rushing in.”
That’s not an unusual response. Oftentimes, when faced with a diagnosis, women focus on getting through the immediate crisis, boxing the emotions up and setting them aside while we take action. In Ria’s case, this meant a unilateral mastectomy surgery, 6 months of TCHP (chemotherapy), and then dealing with the infection that caused her to eventually have to remove an implant and go flat on one side.
Ria handled it by staying active. “The number one way I coped was exercise. Yes, I continued to exercise even during active treatment. I prayed and put my faith in God,” she says.
Cancer deals out emotions – and life lessons
Of course, life doesn’t only include one thing at a time. While Ria was coping with her breast cancer, she was dealt another emotional blow – the loss of a beloved family member. She shares on her Instagram page all the ups and downs of managing deep grief at the same time as she’s learned to be resilient after cancer (all while being a wife, and working mom of two young kids!). It’s no-doubt an emotional roller-coaster, different every day. It takes patience and gentleness with every emotion – accepting them all as part of the human experience.
“There was a hidden blessing,” Ria shares. “I became a person I wish my father could see now. A person who is healing from her wounds. Sharing her story to inspire and to hopefully bring hope. A woman who is strong, goal-driven, outspoken and most importantly, being authentically herself.”
Speaking out for others’ benefit
From these emotional experiences through cancer, Ria (@thisgirlisthriving) has become a trusted voice within the online cancer community. That, too, has its ups and downs, she admits, but ultimately she chooses to share with others to help them while they’re dealing with breast cancer.
“Cancer has taught me many things. It has taught me that life is precious. It forces you to ‘live in the moment.’ It is a privilege to grow old. It makes you not sweat the little things in life. It makes you re-evaluate relationships and friendships,” she tells Amoena. She loves to travel with her family, she’s still exercising, and she engages her creativity with makeup artistry.
As an Amoena ambassador, Ria willingly talks about her positive experience with the Adapt Air breast form, as well. She calls it a “game-changer” and wants everyone to know that they have options like breast forms after mastectomy. She’s spoken at breast cancer awareness events, on podcasts, and she volunteers at her local cancer center (taking her Amoena catalog with her).
Advice for those emotionally dealing with cancer
Ria knows how cancer will mentally and emotionally drain you. To anyone going through it, she says: “I know you are feeling a lot of emotions. The unknown is scary. Remember that what you are feeling, is valid. Feel those feelings, just don’t stay there too long. Take it one day at a time. Be kind to yourself on those really hard days. But most of all, know that you will be okay.”