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There are those moments in life when something happens and our heart drops into the pit of our stomach.  We’re face to face with fear.  In that moment, we can become paralyzed by it or plow on through.   For the first three weeks after we learned of my late husband’s diagnosis I plowed on through.  I took refuge in my ability to create action plans, research information and organize our lives to accommodate this new challenge.

Gary entered therapy right away to begin to deal with his emotions around the diagnosis.  Always the compassionate partner, he recognized he couldn’t rely just on me to work through so many of the thoughts that were coming up for him.  He offered to introduce me to his therapist in case I needed similar support but I felt fine.  Our life as we knew it had changed forever, but I was fine.  Three weeks later, I stopped breathing.

Gary was sitting on the couch in the family room.  I was sitting in my office plowing through statistics on survival rates, percentages of recurrences and chances of secondary cancers post-chemo when the reality of what we were up against hit.  As hard as I tried, I could not take my next breath.

I took the tears and the panic into the living room landing on the couch next to Gary curled up in a ball.  He only asked once what was wrong and when it was obvious I was in no condition to answer, he held onto me and rubbed my back gently telling me everything was going to be okay.  A few minutes later, like waves receding from the beach, the panic slipped away and I could breathe again.  The stress of his diagnosis had become overwhelming for a few moments.

What do you do when it all becomes just a little too much to handle?  Check back in tomorrow for 3 of my 6 great tips for overcoming overwhelm.  But meanwhile remember to use your common sense and self-care strategies.  If you are having a medical emergency, contact your physician or call 9-1-1.  This blog does not provide medical advice and only reflects my personal story.  You are responsible for your own well being.

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