Breast Cancer is a club you wish on no woman. Just heard of someone else who said they have received such a diagnosis.
Every time I hear of someone else having it I am instantly transported back 8 years. Every. Damn. Time.
And I am one of the lucky ones.
And being lucky means sometimes feeling guilty. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just is.
It’s September. Soon it will be October. October means hideous Pinktober will return. And once again those of us who have had breast cancer or are currently being treated will remind everyone and practically shout from the rooftops that there is nothing freaking pink and fluffy about breast cancer.
But I will tell y’all again that my making the decision to remain as positive as possible saved my life I feel.
When I was diagnosed I discovered at the time I lived in a cancer cluster. I did not imagine it. But now, 8 years later I can’t find the data on the Internet. What I have stumbled across are the lovely statistics that made the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania #8 in cancer deaths nationwide in 2016….don’t know what 2019 is like but hey we live in a world where agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency have kind of been gutted.
But we can’t stop living. Our best defense is being informed. If you think something is wrong, don’t ignore it. I learned that lesson the hard way.
When I first found my lump, I was busy at work. I did have a mammogram scheduled but something came up at work and I was unable to keep that appointment. I didn’t get that mammogram until months later. I should have insisted that I needed to keep my original mammogram date. I really, really got lucky.
And then there is that annoying emotional component of breast cancer. Some of us are alone when we get our diagnosis, some of us are parents and step parents to young children, and some of us are just embarking on the rest of our lives and quite young. You get a diagnosis and your head spins the first time. You go through surgery, treatment, post-treatment and your head spins more on occasion. Every mammogram and blood test and gynecologist visit the rest of your life will always give you pause, even if you are positive. Because as breast cancer survivors we always live with the secret fear of “will it come back?” We live with medical histories that are now stamped “cancer”.
The ability to write about my breast cancer all these years has been a saving grace. It was and is a comfort. Because I have had the ability to do this, write about my journey with breast cancer, it has been an extremely productive coping mechanism for me. Being able to get it out and write it down kept me moving forward. And when I have a down day, I can still look back to see how far I have come.
I am proud of myself for being able to share this journey on a blog and so are the people who love me.
As a woman who has had breast cancer I can’t read about the disease every day. I can’t even talk about it every day. Still. 8 years later. I can’t go to funerals and won’t unless I have to. That is where my coping wheels still come off.
I will tell you people are definitely weird when it comes to dishing cancer. Some people are super secret about it, some people are living it out loud. I was, and continue to be open about it. I do that partially out of respect for the kind and caring women I know who were open about the disease when I received my diagnosis. They wanted me to feel less alone and helped demystify the terror that comes with a diagnosis. It is the worst kind of scary unknown. Because of these women who shared with me I was able to get through and remain positive. And I have told you before, some days that positive thing was a very hard goal to keep.
Many of my fellow breast cancer survivors have gone on to experience additional cancers. I don’t want to term them secondary, because that is not necessarily the case. My additional cancers have come in the for of skin cancers. Basel cell and squamous cell. Again, I count myself lucky. I am still around to kvetch.
Recently a friend of mine died. Not of breast cancer. Just went to sleep one night and that was it. His wife is a current breast cancer patient. Today is her birthday. I send her all the love in the world. She lost her rock. And he was an amazing man. Such a big heart. And she has an equally big heart.
But for the grace of God go I.
So that is it for me. Just checking in.