I am Hannah Stonehouse Hudson; I am a breast cancer survivor, a motivational speaker, and a writer focused on grief, resilience, and moving forward from loss. I teach people how to turn their pain into purpose. In 2020 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The lessons I learned about resilience after my husband’s death have helped me immensely throughout my cancer journey!
Found a lump during a self-examination
I found a lump on my breast during a self-exam in 2020. I met with my doctor, followed by a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was unsure what to expect when I went in for a double mastectomy in February. I was weirdly excited (seriously) about the breast cancer diagnosis; I told everyone around me: “At least someone has researched it”. Then I would start laughing, and they would look at me like I had grown horns. After 20+ years of no medicine, questionable medicine, bad medicine, doctors saying it was all in my head, and crazy symptoms that made no sense, I finally had a disease that had been studied and the others that hadn’t. My doctors were both perplexed and amused by my attitude. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a genuine response from me.
I opted for a double mastectomy based on my family history, but I was able to avoid radiation and chemotherapy. My tumor was sent for testing and was determined to be stage 2 cancer. As per the doctor, there is a low chance that my cancer will return. I had no idea how much physical healing would be involved in my mastectomy. I honestly thought I would be out of surgery and expected within a few weeks.
I opted for an alternative treatment
Apart from traditional treatment, I also opted for alternative medicine. I believe it has helped me in faster recovery. I went for acupuncture, reiki, and massage therapy. I took proper care of my eating and other lifestyle habits. It has a significant role in cancer healing.
I have discovered that talking about breast cancer and my treatment has been more difficult for me than I initially anticipated. Though I talk about how we go through a period of brain protection that helps us make decisions and slowly process the grief surrounding it all, I don’t always remember that happening to me. It has been a good reminder for me as I continue to speak on grieving and moving forward. If you are fighting a battle or processing a loss, remember to be good to yourself. It is a process, and you need to give yourself time, grace, & space.
I try to focus on the positives. Yes, I had breast cancer. Yes, I had a double mastectomy. But I had a doctor who jumped right on it. I had excellent care. I cannot control that it happened. I cannot control any of it. I am sad, and I grieve it. I lost a part of my body. I mourned that. But I am also trying to switch my way of thinking. Part of my self-care is being grateful for the excellent care I received.
Awareness is important
I put off getting a mammogram. I had the wrong idea. Now I plan to help raise awareness of breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms to promote early detection. Women with an average risk of developing breast cancer are recommended to get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat and improve outcomes.
Life after cancer
Posting what you are going through definitely helps others (if you are open to posting), but trying to see meaning in the journey is another thing. Trauma takes time, space, and grace to fully process in all forms. I will follow my advice and wait until I have some time and space from my cancer journey to delve into that more. With everything in my life, I have mastered saying -ok, let’s get through this. Things happen, and you work through them. It’s not denial. I’ve just realised that you can’t control anything in life, so I address it and move on. You use the resources you have been given, find a solution, and go from there.
I am cancer free now
When the doctor told me that I was cancer-free, it was just a wow feeling. I do have five years of post-cancer treatment, and the side effects suck, but hey, it is a process. I am back to coaching and writing! I have some group coaching opportunities coming up and a class on finding your story starting soon.
My cancer journey in one line-
It is exciting, eye-opening, relieving, stressful, full of all emotions.