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Four tips from a breast cancer survivor

And how do you say that her diagnosis changed for the better.

“Cancer saved my life,” says Kristen Olson. “I realize that’s quite a statement, but it’s true.”

From Fargo, North Dakota, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 49, while juggling her responsibilities as a mother, wife, and caregiver. Five years later — after six rounds of chemotherapy, twice lumpectomy, 19 lymph nodes removed, and 30 rounds of radiation — she describes herself today as a “grateful survivor,” her lifestyle has completely changed for the better.

She is also deeply involved in a community of fellow cancer fighters. The pink shoes you see above have 20 hashtags you added by hand, each representing one person you know who has been diagnosed and overcame the disease, just like her. What you can’t see here are the two hearts on the other side, which honor the women who died during their treatment schedule.

Olson has made many connections with other patients as she has been looking forward to fighting this disease, and when we asked the Wake-Up Call community about their breast cancer stories, she wrote to share advice we know you’ll want to hear, too.

“I’m a big personality. I’m going to hit everything head-on, so I was going to hit this head-on,” she says. At every appointment, I asked each person, ‘What can I do to help me? What can I do to improve my chances, my fight, my score, my future? “

Below, she shares four of the best answers she received.

From my hematologist/oncologist: She said that professional women find it difficult to diagnose. Remember to start writing things down – chemotherapy often makes you forget things. Give yourself a blessing, but keep moving. You have to metabolize chemotherapy: get up, walk, keep moving. drink water. Stop drinking alcohol. Find out who your friends are and ask them for help.” There were days when I thought the dog was going to drag me around the block because I couldn’t take another step…but we’re working, slowly but surely.

From a breast surgeon: Meditate. Stretch. Practice yoga. Save sweets for special occasions. Find out how to conquer the mind game. Look in the mirror every day and say, “You can do this” — then you find out How You do this. Ask yourself why you live and then be grateful. Find religion if you need it. Find peace if you need it. Try other things if you need to, but don’t be overzealous. Remember that only your surgeon, oncologist, and pathologist know what you have.”

From a radiation oncologist: “Pay attention to what you put in and on your body. Perhaps you should be a vegetarian, and you should not use cosmetics, detergents and products that disrupt the work of the endocrine glands or contain harmful ingredients. And by the way, pay attention to the other health plate numbers – I won’t save you just because you die of heart disease. (She tells me later that she’s never had a patient everything recommended. It still makes me smile)”

From my first friend from cancer, a hero who has since died: “You have to stay in your yard. That means you don’t have to worry about what you could or should have done. Don’t stress yourself out. Don’t worry about your life calendar. Live in your neighborhood today, and live (fill in your oath here) from That day. No regrets. It doesn’t mean YOLO, but it means staying present with those who need you and doing what you need. who – which day.”