October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Dear Bewildered Friend,

I am so sorry you are replaying in your mind the cancer phone call from your doctor. Everyone around you is living life just as always, and here you sit with news so heavy, so derailing.

If you are like me, nights are the hardest. After the house quiets down, you lay there alone with your thoughts and fears. And each morning you wake, wondering if all of this is a bad dream. Once you regain your bearings, you’re faced with the challenge of how to get out of bed to face another day. Physically everything looks the same; but now with this devastating diagnosis, nothing is the same.

If you’ve started sharing the news, I imagine your phone is ringing and your e-mail inbox is filling with well-meaning friends and family offering advice on diets, doctors, and blog links and books. If you are like me, you will probably try to read everything, and then hit a wall of information overload. You’ve been abruptly thrust into a new world filled with unfamiliar terms and options, appointments, decisions, all with varying outcomes. It’s hard to sort through all the information to know which steps to take.

These are just a few nuggets of advice from me looking back on my cancer battle. Feel free to apply what you like or disregard them altogether.

  • There is no right way to do cancer. Everyone’s cancer journey is different. Yours won’t look like anyone else’s. So give yourself freedom to be on your own path.

  • Let others in. Chances are those who love you feel incredibly helpless and scared and want to help you in any way they can. Giving them the opportunity to bring a meal, drive you to a chemo appointment, clean your bathroom, or pick up your kids is a way for them to lessen the load for you, and it can be a blessing for them. Let others help so you can have space to heal and physically and emotionally tackle each portion of active treatment. You’ll probably be surprised, though. Some people you thought would be there for you may disappear, and people you didn’t expect may come along to help.

Read the full letter by Vivian Mabuni on her blog.

Vivian Mabuni is an Asian American Christian woman, wife, mom, speaker, author, cancer survivor, and host for @somedayisherepodcast
Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.