As a woman who endured breast cancer many moons ago, October or Pinktober becomes one of those pink, swashed in your face reminders of all that happened to us. Maybe for you it doesn’t, but for those of us with a long history, it’s a stark reminder for an entire month.
I don’t often share that I endured breast cancer because my medical past isn’t obvious. Well, maybe it’s obvious in certain situations, but for the most part, you’d never know if you met me on the street or in the grocery store unless I shared that bit of information with you. I’m grateful for that now. The bald tell-tale sign or the hairless eyebrows and lack of eyelashes aren’t there anymore.
It’s been a long time since I was diagnosed and I’m grateful to still be here to help others who walk this path. If you want to read more, just type breast cancer in the search button on my blog and you will see that I’ve written about it over the years. I learned much from my experience with breast cancer that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had the disease. Endurance, strength, compassion, kindness, faith and connections have helped to enrich my life and my will to survive other obstacles that have arrived at my doorstep. While I would have never chosen to endure this disease, I am grateful for surviving it and for the ample opportunities for insight and growth that came from it.
While it hasn’t come back with a vengeance, the threat continues as I live out the rest of my life. However, most of the time it is pushed to the back of my mind where it belongs. I am vigilant in my checkups and as any cancer survivor knows, I spend a few nervous days after they test my blood, waiting to see if my tumor markers have decided to go wacky and scare me. In the past they have, which brought fear to the forefront again in my life, but luckily for me, they were false positives.
I can’t say that same experience happened for many friends and acquaintances of mine. Sadly, many of them lost their battle to the disease as it metastasized to different areas in the body. Survivors guilt after bonding with others saddens me. The question of why I am spared and they are not, continues to be a mystery. In honoring their sweet memories, I try to live the best life I can, for I know how quickly life can change.
I am an alumni of a club to which I never wished to belong. But in this club, I have found warm, loving people who are united in ways that others may never fully understand. To this day, I still help other women who are enduring breast cancer. I know that for me, it helped when someone else understood the night time terror thoughts or the twinges of pain that we knew weren’t normal. It helped to receive a sisterly embrace from someone who ‘got it’ and who willingly connected with me. So I give back when I can. I pass along the compassionate connections which were offered to me and greatly appreciated.
In honor of those who lost their battle to breast cancer, to those who are currently in the throes of cancer’s siege on their body and to those who, like me, are labeled survivors, I send up my prayers today. My prayer is that we live on in the hearts of our loved ones and that someday, sooner rather than later, the cure will be given to all who need it.