Dear Miss District of Columbia,
You don’t know me, but when I saw the article on you yesterday, I just knew I had to write to you. Please accept my deepest sympathies as I am so sad that you lost your mom, your grandmother and your great-aunt to breast cancer. My heart goes out to you for the difficult decisions you have to contemplate at the tender age of 24 in order to reduce your risk of enduring breast cancer. As an 11 year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 34, I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this decision is for you. My heart goes out to you.
Although my story is different from yours, I wanted to share in hopes of letting you know that there are those of us who understand. My journey began with a lumpectomy. Originally I had wanted a bilateral mastectomy instead of the lumpectomy, but my surgeon denied my request, citing his philosophy to save the breasts and keep them intact. However, when the pathology results revealed there was further breast cancer invasion to the lymph nodes and outer margins, I was scheduled for a second surgery which was to remove only the cancerous breast. And that’s when I started listening to myself ~ just like you are doing now!
I called my surgeon back and scheduled a double mastectomy even though nobody agreed with me, least of all my surgeon. But I know me, and as I began listening to me, I knew in my heart that it was ME who was going to inhabit my body, day in and night out and it was my comfort level which had to have first priority. There were shady calcifications in the other breast which to me, would eventually lead to breast cancer again, so I wanted that out of the equation in my life!
It’s been a rocky road for me with the reconstructions, but I have never once regretted my decision to take both of my breasts and I can happily tell you that I feel that I am here because I really listened to myself. I think our bodies know what we need to do and it is just a matter of our listening to our own bodies which helps to heal and not hinder our lives.
I am very proud of you for listening to yourself and to your body and for having the courage to stand up and speak about it. Please don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you because it is YOU who has to live in your body everyday and it will be your healing or your fight in the end and nobody else’s. It is not easy to live without your breasts and it is a painful decision to make ~ however, I stand firmly beside you ~ for it is YOUR rightful decision to make and no one else’s. Surely your mom, your grandmother and your great aunt proudly applaud your courage as do the rest of us.
I love your quote, ““I’ve been thinking how powerful that might be to have a Miss America say, ‘I might be Miss America but I’m still going to have surgery. I’m going to take control of my own life, my own health care,’ ” she said. “So I guess it’s up to what happens on Saturday night.”
May you continue to be a shining example of light, of hope and of taking control of your own life,
your own healthcare to the millions of women and men in the world!
Shine On Miss District of Columbia!
Long May You Reign!