I’m able to start over because cancer didn’t win. This enemy attacked not once, but twice. Yet I’m still here. So now it’s time to pick myself up and reclaim my normal activities–living, loving, writing, playing canasta and mah-jong and whatever else comes along. If I hide under the bed, I will have lost the battle despite being cancer free, and that is not acceptable.
It’s not that I’m stronger than anyone else. Really, I’m not. I’ve had wonderful support from family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. This breast cancer sisterhood is not isolated. It draws in brothers, sisters, husbands, co-workers, neighbors, everyone who knows you, everyone who cares about you and everyone who loves you. These are the allies. They were my allies. They shared their strength and offered help as well as hope.
In the end, however, women are the ones who sit in cotton gowns waiting for the mammogram report. It is a routine exam, but our hearts race as the technician walks over. When she smiles and says, “You’re free to go,” we know we’ve received another reprieve. Safe ’til next year.
Or not. In 2001, I found my first tumor myself six months after having had a mammogram. So my battle cry for you is: Vigilance. Self-exams. Mammograms. You’ve heard it before: early detection is the key to survival. The word’s out on television, news articles and in magazines. And yet…and yet…we too often hide.
Have you heard the joke about Cleopatra being Queen of “de-nial?” Well, too many of us qualify for that crown. Including me. I waited weeks before I could admit I was actually feeling something in my breast. Maybe it would go away tomorrow…or the next day… Maybe I’d walked into a wall and bruised myself…and the bruise swelled a bit… Yeah, yeah, the imagination is sometimes NOT a wonderful thing. (But don’t say that to writers of fiction 🙂
During my last bout with the disease – detected through a mammogram – I can across a website called No Surrender. How’s that for a catchy, uplifting name? Turns out, I not only liked the supportive tone, but I appreciated the layman’s presentation of their Breast Cancer 101 section. They covered the gamut from interpreting a diagnosis to what to expect for all possible treatments. I would recommend this website as a starting point for anyone with questions about breast cancer.
Now, I have a question for you: have you scheduled your mammogram for this year? If you have any questions for me, please comment below and enter to win a copy of Family Interrupted. Drawing at the end of the month.
Wishing you all the best of health. Hope to see you next time for another edition of Starting Over!