All of the Changes and Questions are REAL...

I too struggled with overwhelm and many questions throughout my breast cancer journey.  Below I am going to break down a few of MY top questions/challenges based on three distinct chapters in my journey and share my point of view including any insights, tools or resources that helped me through this in hopes that something here might help you too.  


How do I...

  • add treatments and appointments on top of my (already) busy schedule?
  • break my diagnosis down into language that I can understand and share?
  • intentionally prepare for sharing my news with others?
  • visually capture and share the steps to get the cancer out of me?
  • manage (and calm) the fear?

How do I...

How do I...

Question:  How do I add treatments and appointments on top of my (already) full schedule?                                        


I was buzzing along working 50-60 hours a week, trying to squeeze in exercising in my home gym, and fulfilling my roles as wife, mom, daughter, friend, and so forth.  My days were FULL.  Then a breast cancer diagnosis became an unexpected, sudden, required detour.   I no longer knew what was ahead in my day-to-day routine...

Cancer = Change... especially in relation to our bodies, thoughts, and daily routines.  I recognized right away that the two biggest areas of impact or control I could grasp onto were 1) minding my thoughts and 2) getting organized for all of the shifts in my routine to accommodate appointments, surgeries, treatments, and recovery.  

What really helped me stay calm and focused was to map out my journey in this template I called the Treatment Roadmap.  This helped ME by creating focus and it also saved time as a quick share with others vs crafting different emails, texts or making individual calls every time.  If this would interest you or you would like to see more... check out the following:

  1. "4 Reasons You Need A Treatment Roadmap" are outlined in my blog here.   
  2. "5 Actions to Calm Chaos & Overwhelm" are outlined in my blog here.
  3. Download the Treatment Roadmap template when you register for the Diagnosis Detour Collection for FREE here (my first eBook and multiple downloadable templates as shown in image to left).

Back to Questions


Question:  How do I break my diagnosis down into language that I can share and understand?                             


Trying to understand the acronyms, numbers, and complex medical terms when you get a breast cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming.  Most of us can now access our medical records online and read the details of our diagnosis (i.e. MyChart).  However, understanding it all requires a conversation with your Oncologist where you can prompt for a deeper understanding of the meaning behind each detail on your medical record/chart.  I have found that I have referenced this detail on and off throughout my journey and still do today... and have heard similar from other women.  So it is not a one and done receipt.  Keep asking your questions until it is explained in terms that makes sense to YOU. 

I created a Diagnosis Summary to keep my notes and details on.  If this would interest you or you would like to see more... check out the following:

  1. "3 Reasons I Needed A Diagnosis Summary Tool" are outlined in my blog here.
  2. Download the Diagnosis Summary template when you register for the Diagnosis Detour Collection for FREE here (my first eBook and multiple downloadable templates as shown in image to right).

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Question:  How do I intentionally prepare for sharing my diagnosis with others?                            


One of the intentions I set immediately in my cancer journey was that I wanted to focus my energy on healing. To me cancer was a bad actor in this part of my story, disrupting my life, and I did not want to contribute attention or energy to that 'bully'.  I also knew that people would mirror my tone and I knew that I did not want their pity or fear so I needed to present my news in a confident "I got this" kind of attitude.

Communicating our news to others can be stressful and a bit overwhelming.  Beyond my tone, I found it very helpful to also be intentional about the timing, places, people, and the message itself ahead of time.  I needed a plan!

I created a Communicating the Diagnosis+ toolset.  If these would be of interest to you or you would like to see more... check out the following:

  1. "Communicating a Breast Cancer Diagnosis (or updates ongoing)" provides helpful tips in my blog here.


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Question:  How do I visually capture and share the steps to get the cancer out of me?                                  


I am a visual person.  Right from the beginning I needed a "map".  Something to show me where I had been and where I was going next.  I created what I called the Treatment Roadmap. I could now focus on what the next step was and the next step after that.  I tried to stay present with where I was and not get too far ahead as that can quickly lead you to fear.  All of this also balancing that goal and focus of "when will this cancer be OUT OF ME?"

I will also admit that I quickly became overwhelmed with trying to keep everyone updated and the number of questions and loving inquiries that people had for me that came in from every direction (email, text, phone calls, social media... you name it).  "When is your next treatment?  How many chemo treatments have you finished?  How many are left to go?  When do you start radiation?  When is your surgery?"  I found it much easier to post a picture of this Treatment Roadmap to reduce the number of individual responses to my loved ones and family providing what they wanted to know.   I shared it on a CaringBridge page along with a few details and pictures... but you could share it however is best for you.  Or another tip - family and friends will want to help you and ask how they can support you... ask one of them to post your updates and picture of your filled in Treatment Roadmap to a select list of people that you want to keep updated every week or two.  Your job is to rest, heal and take care of YOU!

 If this would interest you or you would like to see more... check out the following:

  1. "4 Reasons You Need A Treatment Roadmap" are outlined in my blog here.   
  2. Download the Treatment Roadmap template when you register for the Diagnosis Detour Collection for FREE here (my first eBook and multiple downloadable templates as shown in image to left).


Back to Questions


Question: How do I manage (and calm) the fear?                               

I feared chemotherapy.  I initially rejected the idea of having radiation.  I wanted to pursue a full mastectomy so I never had to face this cancer again.  There were so many painful pictures and stories I had heard in the past and all of these things created a sense of fear and worry in me - almost bigger than the cancer itself!  However I did want the cancer OUT of me so I asked a lot of questions of my medical team and after many consultations I leaned into trusting that the steps would be successful.  Ultimately, I did 6 rounds of chemotherapy treatments, a lumpectomy surgery, followed by 20 radiation sessions, and 14 more chemotherapy treatments.  

In my first chemo session in November of 2020, I had to face the chair and treatment alone due to COVID protocols.  I had to find a way to keep my mind and body calm.  I wanted my body to accept the treatment and combat the cancer.  I used music, journaling, meditation and prayer to get through that day.  As I progressed through treatments, I added a visualization technique and you can read more about that in my blog, as listed below.

One other thing that I want to add here that is so critical early after your diagnosis... to remember that you are NOT your cancer diagnosis!  Do not let this overshadow the whole person or life that you are living.   That is easier said than done and part of combatting this fear for me was to remember (and journal out) all that make my life valued and cherished.  If you need help getting started with that, check out my reflection template below.

  1. In "Combatting Fear During Treatment" (and Flipping Fear to Love), learn more about that visualization technique - find that blog here
  2. Download the "Your Other Chapters" journal page when you register for the Diagnosis Detour Collection for FREE here (my first eBook and multiple downloadable templates as shown in image to left).
  3. Consider a personal coach to overcome fear!  Dina Legland offers 1:1 or group coaching, is a Keynote Speaker, is one of the amazing LoveME Healing Guides and has been through her own breast cancer journey.   For 30+ years Dina has been a wife, a mother of two successful daughters all while acting as a licensed RN, EMT, and home care health provider.  Dina created Wellness Warriors for Life to help women learn how to feel loved, appreciated and liberated from the guilt of putting their healing and needs first. Dina is certified in health and life transformation to help women face their greatest fear, to gain clarity around its source and to overcome worries that feel toxic like cancer.  Get more information via with Wellness Warriors for Life website or email Dina at [email protected] today to book a discovery session.

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Question:  How do I respond to all of the "What can I do to help" type questions?                                 


Asking for help or support was completely new to me.  I felt uncomfortable, awkward and nervous every time someone would ask me "What can I bring over for you or do to help?"  I froze.  I didn't need anything.  I hadn't stopped to consider what I might want... or find comforting.  I hadn't stopped to consider that family and friends would need to feel helpful or needed in order to process MY cancer as well.  

An even more paralyzing (and sometimes infuriating!) question came in the form of "How are you doing?"  This question seemed to come in combination with [insert face looking sad, worried or in pity].  I did not want people feeling pity for me or even worrying about me!  I have always been an independent, strong woman that was able to take care of herself, her family, her career goals and so forth.  There are days when I would give anything to be treated as "Maggie before cancer" again! 

Friends, my advice here is as follows... please do not give the sad or worried faces to your loved ones healing from something.  Look at them with strength and love and care... but also as a human being who wants to laugh still or do fun things or talk about anything but cancer on occasion too.  And be gracious and patient when you ask them how you can help.  Your intentions are absolutely pure and in love, but maybe start with "What would bring comfort to you right now - a blanket, a book, some fuzzy slippers... or another idea you had in mind?"   And from personal experience - food can be hard... as taste and odors can be different for some after treatment - so get creative.

  1. In my blog "Using Your 5 Senses for Support Questions", I break down a simple idea that you can use anytime someone catches you off guard with a "How Can I Support You / What Can I Bring You?" type questions.  Or friends and family looking to support someone - use this to ask leading questions instead of the general "What can I bring over?"  See that blog here and included in it find the way to download the FREE "Using Your 5 Senses for Support" template.

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Question: How do I manage, capture and explain my symptoms to my medical team effectively?                                                 


These cancer treatments are a lot for our physical bodies and our emotional states too!  I wanted to feel prepared for my visits with my medical team so that I could articulate what happened in the days/weeks following each treatment.  Each appointment influenced the next "chemo cocktail" so being able to articulate exactly what I was struggling with (or what was going well conversely) was key to this process.  There were a couple of templates that I needed to manage and then show or explain to my medical team:

  1. A Doctor Appointment Prep form to capture all of my questions between appointments and then takes notes DURING the appointment on.  Have you ever forgotten some of your questions or didn't feel like you understood the answer before the doctor moved on?  This was a game changer for me!  You can read more in "4 wins from using a Doctor Prep Form" in my blog here.
  2. Between appointments I used two forms I created that I named the Body & Emotional Scan templates to show how my body and mind were doing on a daily basis so that the medical team could see any trends after each treatment.  I used markers to color in and provide a quick visual read - red for days that I was miserable and spent mostly in bed; yellow for days that I had symptoms that were manageable; and green for my good days.  And around the graphing I could add details and notes.  These were valuable to my medical team and they appreciated the details.

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Question:  How do I prepare to separate from my hair?  Who cuts it and what is the process?                                     


Part of my healing journey included learning to hold love and self-compassion for how I looked in this stage.  I spent a lot of energy fearing the loss of my hair, eyebrows, eyelashes... and once it was all gone... I realized that how I looked wasn't everything...I was still beautiful and worthy of this precious life I had. I was remembering my story, my identity, my strengths and all of the things I loved.  None of it had to do with my hair. 

As my long hair began to thin, I took a couple of actions to transition into this next phase.  First, I recorded a video to remind myself that it was only hair and that I was beautiful inside and out.  This would be a temporary chapter.  Second, I asked my friend (and my hair professional) to cut my hair into shorter cuts that disguised the thinning.  I had never had short hair and this made the shift less extreme.  When it was time to let go of my hair, we tried different mohawk versions as we cut it shorter and then eventually shaved the last of it off.  While it was still hard, it was also a little playful, we took some fun photos of these looks which provided a few laughs mixed with the tears too.  

Losing my hair did not feel like a choice - I had to surrender it even though I didn't want to. As I navigated my healing, however, I felt a weight of other things, less tangible things, that I DID want to surrender and I just needed to figure out how to start letting go... and that created a tool of reflecting on what no longer served me in this chapter.  This became a practice more than a one and done checklist.  And I called this practice "Identifying Your Rocks".

  1. It takes daily practice to love yourself when going through big changes that you have no choice over.  I found a few things that helped me during this time that I share in the "Surrendering Your Hair and Loving Yourself More" blog here

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Question: How do I reveal my baldness to my partner?  To others?                                         

Everyone is different and should be authentic in how they want to take this step.   But speaking from my personal experience, I decided to share this very private side of me to a select few people at first whom I trusted would hold space for me and be gentle.

A Christmas tradition was to wear a favorite hat - a Cindy Lou Who santa-like hat.  In this year however, I had started chemo treatments and my hair was now gone.  Family was coming over for the holidays.  I decided to wear this hat as I always did – this time with a wig so that I looked very similar to years past.  I remember that I was standing with my family in the kitchen talking about my wig when my daughter-in-law spoke up and suddenly said that I would rock being bald!  I was nervous and yet knew the time would come so with this encouragement, a group of us snuck off to the bathroom.  I looked at my 2 daughters-in-law and 4 of my granddaughters and asked them cautiously "Are you ready?”  Honestly, I was asking myself this very question in that moment too.  And then I did it… I remembered my youngest granddaughters looking at me with wide eyes – and LOVE!  They loved me – not because I had hair or didn’t have hair.  They loved ME.  And I felt strong and intentional in showing them that I was okay in this moment and revealing my baldness.  My daughter-in-law encouraged me to "embrace rocking the bald head"! 

Wigs and stocking hats (as it was winter in Minnesota) were my initial go-to during this phase.  However, I did struggle with the wigs sitting right and the hats were hot at times.  I had to work through feeling “ugly” without my hair or this costume trying to seem normal… and thanks to loving family I slowly began to let go of the uncomfortable parts and embrace my baldness.

This step takes time and is on your terms. Here are a couple of other things I can share as you consider what is right for YOU.

  1. It takes daily practice to love yourself when going through big changes that you have no choice over.  I found a few things that helped me during this time that I share in the "Surrendering Your Hair and Loving Yourself More" blog here

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Question:  How do I learn more without the Google search?                                         

Have you ever typed a symptom into your internet browser, only to fall into an abyss of scary possibilities and 'what if' questions? I certainly have. Google can come in quite handy when searching for a new recipe, finding instructions on how to fix a technical issue, or doing research on a travel destination before a trip, but when it came to my health and my cancer, I chose to avoid it completely.  While I wanted to learn everything I could about my diagnosis and was curious about what I could expect and what choices I had in treatment options, I knew I had to find another way.  A very wise friend of mine suggested talking to other women that have been through breast cancer themselves.  There are several websites on cancer that serve as great resources. I am not denying that. But I value personal, meaningful connection and I preferred to talk to those who have experience with what I am facing and were willing to answer my questions. 

The names and stories of others with breast cancer dripped in from family, friends, colleagues...and soon I had over 20 connections to make.  But knowing how much value I was about to put into these conversations, I made a plan and created a conversation guide.

  1. In my blog "Find Your People", I share how talking to other women intrigued me, inspired me and gave me hope.  


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Question:  How do I continue to ask for support when I am supposed to be back to "normal" now?                                                           


I believe that our healing is ongoing and not something that we can declare is "done".  While the treatments were done it was hard not to feel like I should be back to "normal" again.  It seemed as though everyone else was back to business as usual.  But I recognized in this chapter that I had entered cancer as one person and was exiting as another.  I had a new outlook, priorities and habits.  And cancer wasn't magically out of my mind - every check up, every appointment, every hormone blocker is a reminder that I had this once.  It is a practice to flip the fear and 'what if' thoughts of it returning, along with many other 'what if' scenarios.  

I continue to focus on my health, my mindset, and my habits as a priority in 4 ways.  See my blog here for those - "Remission is the not the destination".

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Question:  How do I lovingly accept my body, mind and spirit forward?                                             


Brain "fog" is one of the scenarios that I continue to battle with post my chemotherapy treatments.   Old beliefs of "get it right", "not enough" creep up for me often.   I have long battled with perfecting, pleasing, proving and producing and with the added "fog" during the times that I feel very busy, I recognize how much challenging old beliefs continues to be critical in my healing.  The old "normal" may just not be the way... and that is okay.  I am enough, as I am here today.

In my blog, The Big P, found here I share a few thoughts on how I am accepting myself and my response time with "brain fog" in my ongoing healing.


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Question:  How do I say yes to what I want more of and say no to what I want less of?                                                     


One thing that I have learned along this journey is how precious time is. Time can be spent all too easily without a plan, intention and focus... to navigate on autopilot, go numb to where we are headed or get lost.  My weeks, like yours, are filled with things to get done. But the new habits I have adopted for my healing are a practice that I have to balance as a priority along with the things for the household, for work, for my relationships. These habits include identifying and naming what I need. It comes down to intentional focus, boundaries and new practices for me!

  1. A planner is essential for my focus, and I wanted habits that surrounded my values too... so I created an Ongoing Healing (Weekly) Planner with Healing Habits included.  You can find these downloadable & printable planner sheets in Companion #7 of the Wisdom Way Collection, as found here.  
  2. You may need to set some boundaries to start saying "no" to the many demands that come at us all of the time.  If you need help getting started with boundaries, you might like the Exploring & Defining Boundaries tools in Companion #6 of the Wisdom Way Collection.  
  3. What does it look like to move forward honoring your true self?  When you show up as your authentic self, honoring your habits and boundaries, and developing new ambitions and goals... what do you see?  These are all questions I considered as I began to map out my healing ahead in the next 6 months, year and beyond.  Visualizing what I truly wanted and also what it would take to get there required a map.  I created the Healing Blueprint to reflect on some key questions and get my ideas down on paper as these were the things that I wanted to say YES to!  The Healing Blueprint tool is available in Companion #7 of the Wisdom Way Collection here (a set of three eBooks, over a dozen downloadable tools and resources, and a private community).  

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Question:  How do I form habits that support what is important to me going forward?                                                 

Some of my habits from before cancer are still a priority for me - like eating healthy.   And what cancer has taught me is that I needed to make changes that were better aligned to taking care of ALL of ME - mind, body & spirit.  I had to take naps.  I had to accept that stretching was acceptable movement when I didn't have the capacity to lift weights or walk far.   I had to sit with the feelings or as I like to say "feel the feels".  I had to be honest that my values included things like connectedness and did not include things like "productivity".  A full heart comes from doing things that matter to you and having a feeling of being on purpose. What you already do and what you put intention towards in your week supports your overall healing and fulfillment. 

  1. Do you ever feel like shouting "I Need More Time"?!  Healing and taking care of what is most important comes from intentional habit setting.  I share more about my evaluation of what is productive and how healing is my priority now on that list, in my blog here.
  2. Reflect on what healing looks like to you?  That will inform what habits truly support (or distract) from your healing.  I share a few ideas in my blog "Learning to Love Myself" here.
  3. Download the Healing Habits tool within the Wisdom Way Collection here.  The Wisdom Way Collecting is about defining and implementing your ongoing healing habits by integrating learnings and changes, practicing healthy boundaries and having loving compassion for yourself.  As part of this collection you will find three eBooks, over a dozen tools to download and a supportive, private community.  We invite you to join us today!


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Question:  How do I surround myself with the right people and decide when there may be ones to let go?                                                               

I entered this cancer journey as one person and exiting as another person.  I am intentionally choosing who and what to surround myself with (people as well as environment).  I have discovered through my experience that energy is very important to my health and being aware of things that drain me is important.

  1. One big drain on my energy was old beliefs that were no longer serving me or my healing.  Some of old beliefs were what I called "The 4 P's" in my blog here.   I had held on to these for far too long and it was time to practice letting go of those beliefs.   As an important note here too - if you evaluate your own personal experience and healing and there are people/relationships that feel draining... Is it still possible to have a conversation with that individual on what feels draining to you?  Is it possible to set some boundaries?   
  2. I created a reflection exercise to get you thinking about WHO serves your healing and WHO doesn't. Who will you surround yourself with in support of your healing?  The tool is called "My Seat at the Table" and is available in Companion #7 within the Wisdom Way Collection here (a set of three ebooks, over a dozen downloadable tools and a private community).

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I created LoveME Healing based on my experience and what I learned along the way.  I share my personal insights, tools that helped me advocate for myself better and a caring community to our members

Not a member?  You can still get started with any of my blogs, social media posts (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn), podcast episodes (coming soon), free webinars or free tools/resources.  My desire is to offer something that may give you strength, hope or the support that you seek in your own healing journey.  You are not alone!