- 7. Finding the positives in triple negative breast cancer with Jennifer Greenhut Tollin Diane Gilman 35:51
In this week’s episode of the “Too Young To Be Old” podcast, host Diane Gilman welcomes Jennifer Greenhut Tollin as her guest. Both Diane and Jennifer are survivors of Stage 4 breast cancer, having been diagnosed in 2017 and enduring a year and a half of treatment.
Diane and Jennifer had different circumstances leading into their cancer journeys, both women emerged from their experiences stronger and filled with gratitude. They delve into the transformative power of embracing cancer as a life-altering experience.
Different Paths to Cancer
Diane and Jennifer discuss their contrasting experiences leading up to their cancer diagnoses. Jennifer, a newly married yoga teacher who diligently received yearly mammograms, was shocked by her unexpected diagnosis of stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer—the most aggressive type.
Diane, on the other hand, discovered a lump and eventually underwent a scan after being convinced by a doctor friend. Her diagnosis came on Christmas Eve, delivered bluntly by a doctor who stated that she had cancer everywhere, leaving her feeling hopeless.
Seeing Cancer as a Blessing
Jennifer opens up about her initial feelings of hopelessness upon receiving her diagnosis. This was made worse by the fact her and her husband had been trying for children and had experienced several failed rounds of IVF. She felt the universe was kicking her when she was down. However, she later discovered that if she had become pregnant, she would likely have died. This revelation shifted her perspective, leading her to see cancer as a life-saving experience and an opportunity for personal growth. Jennifer now believes that everything happens for a reason and embraces the notion that everything worked out as it should.
Approaching Treatment with Gratitude
Diane recalls the high-pressure environment of the chemotherapy ward, often witnessing medical emergencies in the ward. In response, she took on the role of being bright and cheerful, believing that a positive mindset would facilitate the best results for her treatment.
Jennifer, too, approached her chemotherapy sessions with a sense of surrender and gratitude. She said prayers and expressed her gratitude before each session, opening herself up to receive the treatment rather than viewing it as poison.
The Night Before Chemo
Diane and Jennifer discuss their nights before chemo. Diane gave herself a pep talk, fell asleep and had a motivating dream that inspired her to overcome cancer and reminded her to rise above the situation.
Jennifer, on the other hand, struggled to sleep and instead turned to writing. She contemplated the person she would become during her illness and trusted the doctors and the treatment process.
The Power of Support
Diane shares the overwhelming response from women after her last TV show. She considers her audience like an extended family and felt a collective support system of 135,000 individuals holding her up during her journey. Jennifer reflects on how she allowed herself to be supported during her treatment and realized that support continues even without the presence of cancer.
Advice for Those Facing Cancer
Jennifer advises individuals facing cancer to seek multiple opinions from oncologists and stay open to the possibility that the experience can be valuable and transformative. She believes that individuals co-create their experiences with life itself. Diane emphasizes the importance of gratitude and kindness, highlighting how expressing appreciation for the medical staff and creating a positive atmosphere can contribute to a more favorable outcome. Diane also shares how cancer burned away negativity in her life, making space for her to shine through her treatment.
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