I’m a breast cancer survivor — I actually like to think of myself as a breast cancer thriver. Regardless, October and Breast Cancer Awareness is fast approaching. Am I happy there is a month dedicated to raising awareness and finding a cure? You bet I am. Am I happy there is a month in which breast cancer is constantly in my face? Not so much.
Believe me, when my underarm aches on a regular basis and when I can’t sleep on my right side because of all of the scars and when I am taking pills every morning to keep a recurrence at bay, I have breast cancer “in my face.” When I take a shower I see and feel the scars. When I look in a mirror I bite back tears because I look like Frankenstein. Do I sometimes joke that my breasts are only “three years old and still like new?” Yes. Why? Because when someone says something like, “Well at least you got new breasts out of it…” it’s either have a smart ass comeback or cry or slap them. I don’t cry in public and try to avoid slapping people so it’s the smart ass that comes out.
Am I thankful that the cancer was caught early? Yes. Do I thank God every day that I found the most amazing surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologists? Of course. Do I still cry at the loss of my “normal body?” Every. Single. Day.
I own breast cancer awareness t-shirts and wear them on occasion. I typically wear them when I can’t escape the fact that breast cancer is a part of my life now and will be forevermore. The tshirts are a reminder of what I have been through. The emotions on those breast cancer tshirt donning days are:
- I kicked cancer’s ass and I am still here to talk about it
- I am blessed with having found the most amazing support from my Booby Buddies group
- I am still so angry that this happened to me
- I am still scared that any ache or pain that I can’t remember a cause for could be cancer. You know, that achy shoulder for no reason, the where did that bruise come from…and on and on
- When October rolls around and EVERYone is wearing pink and acting like it’s a celebration I just want to curl up, pull the covers over my head and hibernate until November 1
Prior to breast cancer, I wore pink. I love pink. I still wear pink — I wear it year ’round. I don’t always wear breast cancer awareness ribbons other than my medic alert bracelet that would let emergency personnel know they cannot draw blood or take blood pressure on my right arm. When I do wear a breast cancer awareness thisrt it’s because emotionally I am struggling inside. It’s because I can’t forget what I’ve been through. It’s because I never imagined I could make it through the surgeries and treatments, but I did.
I will walk in the Making Strides Against Cancer event as a way to give back and raise money for those who come after me and are diagnosed. I volunteer my time and talents with The Provision Project because, frankly without the support of the ladies in the Booby Buddies group and the love of my family and friends I would be in more of a funk about “things” than I usually am. So, thank you to everyone who dons pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but remember, after the month is over those of us who have been diagnosed have 11 other months of the year to get through.