Enduring Breast Cancer Survivor

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This may be a controversial post, I’m just warning you.  Maybe not, depending on how you view what I feel.  I’m a breast cancer survivor although I abhor the badge survivor.  Yes, I survived breast cancer and have for almost 16 years, but I am not one of those who go to the Pinktober or Breast Cancer Walks with pink frilly enthusiasm.  It’s just not me.

I think it’s nice that people unite for those walks to raise money for research, but in the sixteen years since I was diagnosed, there have been a few strides, but not many.  So where’s the funding going?

There are thousands of items bedazzled with the pink ribbon during Breast Cancer Awareness month that are for sale.  While I appreciate it, I also feel the superficiality of it.  For enduring breast cancer isn’t all pink ribbons.

It’s grueling surgeries, treatments and fear-induced sleepless nights.  Like all life threatening situations, it requires bravery to face our inevitable death, with the threat of it coming too soon.  I was 34 years old when I was diagnosed out of the blue, having found an M&M sized lump in my breast.  Complete shock overtook me on that New Year’s Eve in 2001 when the diagnosis was delivered.

Fast forward to 2017 after having endured countless surgeries, chemotherapy (ACT) and radiation, not to mention a double mastectomy, two implant replacements and then a radical replacement of my breasts with my own fat tissue instead of implants because my body kept rejecting them, I’ve been through the ringer like many people have in my situation.  I’ve lost my hair, been in menopause since 2003 and aged faster than my friends because of the illness.  I have lingering effects from the cancer which include chronic fatigue which I battle daily.  The funny thing about the chronic fatigue is that most people just don’t understand what I experience because I look normal (or as normal as possible).  But that’s a whole different post.

However, the word survivor when applied to my breast cancer experience sticks in my craw.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I merit the word survivor.  Victims of the Holocaust merit the word survivor, people who survived horrendous experiences merit the word survivor in my book.  But for me, no.

Me, I endured breast cancer.  While its aftereffects still play a role in my daily life, I am gratefully still here.  Sure, I have had more threats to my health than I can count anymore.  I am tested routinely due to other complications and I have endured countless uncomfortable tests and more sleepless nights than I want to remember.

The term survivor to me is having lived through something awful and to be able to go on afterwards.  Maybe that’s how some people feel about their diagnosis in the breast cancer world.  For me, it’s not a been there, done that, wear the pink sparkly t-shirt and smile.  It’s still enduring the illness in whatever shape and form it reemerges.

The Presents of Presence emerged from my journey with breast cancer.  In being present with my feelings, acknowledging the gifts in this moment and in taking the time to be mindful, spiritual and experiencing all that presence allows, is how I live my life now.  I am still a work in progress.  I thank you for reading my post today, for holding my hand when needed, for your kindness and connections and for showing your heartlight as a beacon of hope for others.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

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31 thoughts on “Enduring Breast Cancer Survivor

  1. Good for you! I appreciate the fact that you are doing what feels right to you, not just going with the crowd. I think there are a good questions you’ve raised about where the money goes. Generally, I think the pink ribbon stuff is an extrovert’s way of dealing. For introverts, it just doesn’t fit.

    • Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like I fit into the survivor brouhaha because I’m an introvert about it. I am quite willing to help anyone who is enduring it and will be an open book about it, but all the survivor walk etc., just doesn’t feel right for me. And yet, I have friends who are gun-ho about it and I applaud them. To each his/her own, right? xo

      • Yes. My guess is that you want a lot of the attention elsewhere. And do you feel like you’ve truly survived when the sleepless nights as you await test results still happen? I understand your position, and I kind of understand those who want to claim survivorship. Because they saw themselves as victims before, being a survivor flips their thoughts. Just doing what works for you is best; I’m glad you’re willing to approach this as individual.

      • Thanks Karel. I don’t squash the word SURVIVOR for others, just myself. You are right – survivor is the opposite of victim and it does give great power and hope to many for which I’m grateful. Truly. I love that you know that and pointed it out. Thank you. I think it’s important to enjoy life. Be in the now because that’s all we truly have – this moment, this hour. Not being morbid because I am ever hopeful for a long, happy life. But I make sure I am grateful for every sunrise, every sunset, every peaceful sleep and every moment with family and friends. ♥

  2. This was hard to read today. Last month I had an “abnormal” mammogram and this Friday I go in for further tests. I am using the power of positive thinking, praying it will be nothing.

    I have sat with friends as they went through exactly what you described. One or two fully embraced the Pink Ribbon comradely, while others were far more private. I am sorry this happened to you.

    • Beth, please know I am here for you and will keep you in my prayers that this is nothing serious. I know for myself, that nothing anyone said to me could keep fear away while my thoughts wrestled with the what if’s and subsequent planning if the inconceivable was diagnosed. I love that you are using positive thinking and prayer for that helps relax the mind immensely and heal the body. I am grateful that I endured cancer because I learned so much from the experience. I am not sorry that it happened now for I have learned that everything happens for a reason with Divine Timing. It has made me the woman I am and I know now my strengths and weaknesses and I accept myself with a loving heart. I hope that you receive good news and I would love to stay connected to cheer for you when you receive the results. You are not alone. Even though we don’t know each other, please know you have a hand to hold if needed. Prayers abound for you Beth. I am sorry you are enduring the testing, but I’m here, praying for good results. xo

      • I am so touched. Thank you so much. I will update you. I am keeping positive, while prayer does not come easily to me, I recognize how healing it can be! Thanks again.

      • (If you are interested in a different take on things happening for a reason, please see my recent post, “A Reason?…” )

      • Just a quick update – everything was fine this time around! Talk about a scary two weeks. As I sat there in that room waiting for the radiologist to analyze the advanced mammogram, waiting for my ultrasound, I imagined my friends who have endured breast cancer, and how this was a regular reality for them. Those machines, that chatty technician (small town, she does em all). Anyway, my prayers and wishes and hopes for all were sent out in multitude today and these long weeks. Today my prayers and thanks and gratitude are also being sent.

      • Amen Amen Amen Beth!!! Woo Hoo! So grateful for your happy news and I thank you for letting me know. I hope you celebrate your news tonight! I love that you are grateful as well. So important. God Bless. Have the loveliest worry free weekend ahead! xoxo

  3. I can so understand you views Misifusa.. Having a younger sister who at the age of 36 also went through a mastectomy.. Though no reconstruction was ever offered on the NHS… Her ordeal was hard to witness let alone knowing what she and You have had to go through.. She is now 57.. It was her young family, inner strength and spirit that got her through..
    While we both support Cancer charities, But I can so say we both feel as you do..
    Kudos to you my friend..
    Sue xxx

    • Hi Sue. I send a heartfelt hugs to your sister and to her family and to you as well. I believe in donations without a doubt. I just find it hard sometimes to stomach some of the baloney associated with some of them (like it’s pink but they don’t give what you think they do to the charity). I’m sorry she didn’t have the option to have reconstruction if she wanted it. It may still be an option if she’s thinking of it. xoxo May you all stay healthy!!

  4. It’s important we hear the perspective you give of your experience with breast cancer. (ok weird my headphones just fell off the top of my computer). I’m sick of seeing “pink tributes” to breast and ovarian cancer too. The same way I feel about all the gadgets they give people dealing with diabetes. We don’t want pink t-shirts and cool carrying cases for testing our blood sugar levels….we want cures! Much love, hugs and light from here to you, you brave girl!

    • Sending hugs to you. I don’t know what the chemo cocktail for lymphoma is, but I want you to know that I’m sending prayers for you because I remember how yucky it made me feel. Remember don’t ever eat your favorite meal the night before, rest and drink lots of water and imagine that the chemo is working brilliantly to heal you xo

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  6. I had similar misgivings about the downside of pink, since before my diagnosis, as well as after.
    I am 3 years cancer-free, but will never be free from the physical ramifications of the treatments. Many commonalities with your story, including multiple failed reconstructive surgeries, leaving me with chronic pain and fatigue, but looking somewhat normal to others.
    Thank you for writing this.
    Glad to be alive, but like you, consider myself an Endurer.

    • Katherine, thank you for sharing. I am so sorry you endured so much as well. It’s a club we never wanted to belong to, but we are here and we can help others through the experience. Cheers to those of us who endure, who survive and tears for those who lost their battles. We never forget. xo

  7. No, more than a survivor Misifusa. You have become something so much more…the love that we all seek, that self love that our lives keep at bay in so many ways.
    It takes great courage to find that…and then step into it ❤

  8. I’m sending you a huge heartfelt hug for all you have endured. I hope all your wishes to help others are fulfilled for in helping others who are enduring the hell of breast cancer, we send out countless blessings. Thank you for taking the time to visit and to touch on so many good issues! I will keep you in my prayers dear strong Kim! ♥

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