The acceptance process

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The acceptance process

Described as a key step in the process of change or grief, acceptance precedes adaptation (and rebuilding) following disruptive news. Often easier said than done, accepting a diagnosis and adjusting to life with breast cancer can be a long and arduous process. It is therefore quite normal to feel different emotions, such as anger, frustration, or a sense of injustice.

But what exactly does accept mean?  

For some people, the term “acceptance” is difficult to think about in the case of cancer. After all, how can you accept the unacceptable? Acceptance, however, does not mean surrender, giving up, or resigning to the situation…Rather, it means acknowledging the existence of difficult events or emotions and being able to not judge them all the time. This would allow us to face changes with more resilience and by acting with the circumstances and not against them. This does not take away from the fact that this new path to take is certainly not the one that was hoped for.

The breast cancer acceptance process  

A diagnosis of breast cancer can lead to many changes and grief in daily life, more or less quickly and permanently. A process of acceptance is then put in place following this heavy announcement. This process includes different stages, which we will explore below. Remember: each of these steps is not “mandatory”, does not necessarily have a defined order (you can also go back and forth between the steps), and does not have a specific duration. You should not worry, nor should you compare yourself to someone who has had a similar diagnosis, and seems to be taking it better than you. It’s very personal and depends on your diagnosis. 

Check out our advice to better understand the steps on the road to adaptation.

1. Denial: “It’s impossible! This is a mistake!” 

The diagnosis of breast cancer and the changes that follow can be traumatic. Denial is a normal defence mechanism that allows you to protect yourself and absorb the shock, while giving you time to mobilize the resources you need to deal with the situation. If this happens to you, don’t worry; it’s a completely normal reaction.

2. Anger: Why me? It’s not fair!” 

As the shock begins to wear off, it is common to enter a new phase where you begin to realize what is happening and you visualize life with the disease. These projections can sometimes lead to a wave of intense emotions filled with anger at the diagnosis and confusion about the new situation.

3. Bargaining: “What if I …?” 

This stage is much more spiritual: it is the moment when you might have to create agreements with yourself (or with an entity, depending on your beliefs) to try to change the present situation, avoid a future harmful situation, or even make a promise of healing. For example with the use of compromises: “if I do (…) during a defined time, then what I wish will happen”. This is a normal way of moving forward, which gives the person affected by breast cancer a sense of regaining some control over her body and the disease.

4. Sadness: “My life will never be the same again. I feel alone.” 

It is the full realization of the loss of your health, but also of your previous life and/or certain projects. You may feel a lot of sadness, and this is perfectly normal. Remember: expressing your emotions often helps you cope better. One way to feel better is to share your experience with others who are going through the same thing as you. If you feel the need to speak to someone, do not hesitate to call us at 1-855-561-PINK so a member of our team can speak to you and help you confidentially.

What’s next 

Acceptance is the result of this process. This mental state allows you to find the resources necessary to move forward and cope with breast cancer and its consequences. Beyond the term “acceptance”, it is about being able to bear the situation following the diagnosis, and to “deal with it” in order to approach life differently. It is a bit like saying to oneself: “I live with it, I am ready for what is coming”.  Of course, it is sometimes very difficult to achieve this thought, depending on the situation, which is why the Foundation offers you a free psychosocial support service. 

Our psychological support service is available to help you through this process and to guide you and your family through the many emotional challenges of breast cancer. Please feel free to call us at 1-855-561-PIN or email us at soutien@rubanrose.org