Friday, October 2, 2020

In October, We Wear Pink

Tomorrow is Mean Girls Day! If you've never seen Mean Girls, I recommend it. Tina Fey wrote it, Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams star in it and it's full of fun scenes, memorable characters and iconic lines, including, "On Wednesdays we wear pink."

Since it's also Breast Cancer Awareness month, I've been seeing t-shirts that say "In October we wear Pink" a lot lately. You can pick this one up here at Etsy, but there are several versions for sale everywhere. I think I need one, maybe the Pooh version.

I have a cousin who was diagnosed with breast cancer about 15 years ago...and she was the first person I thought of when I received my breast cancer diagnosis this year. As she told me, we are both in the club no one wants to be in. It was the end of February 2020 when I went to get a lump checked and not only did they do a mammogram, they also did an ultrasound immediately after. 

The tech came in and said it was "suggestive" of a problem. I still didn't think the word cancer until my ob/gyn called that night and said they had been informed. I told her they never really said breast cancer...and was it? And she gently said, "yes." After I hung up, I had a little breakdown, alone in the kitchen, of crying and thinking, "I can't do this...I don't want this." And then it hit me. Who the hell does want it? So, I pulled up my big girl panties and went on.

I had a biopsy, decided on bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and went in during April for surgery. It was restricted Covid times so my husband couldn't stay very long with me, but he did get to tell me after the surgery that my lymph nodes were clear. The cancer hadn't spread and my oconolgist a few weeks later told me my tests came back and I wouldn't need chemo. I couldn't believe it. It was like skipping the final exam...this surgery was it. The extent of the pain and suffering. I will need to take Tamoxifen for five years and deal with those side-effects but I can't tell you how grateful I feel that I didn't have to face chemo and radiation. I feel like apologizing to everyone who does have to take that journey. I am amazed at how the testing can be so detailed.

So, now it's October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my cancer is gone, my second reconstruction surgery is over and I am just concentrating on getting stronger again. And I'm here to urge you to do a self-exam every month. I noticed my lump because it was hard, unlike cysts or breast tissue. And it didn't move. I could literally pinch it and it wouldn't move. Mine was large, so it was super noticeable, but I know it would still have felt different than regular breast tissue if I had noticed it when it was smaller BY DOING SELF-EXAMS MONTHLY instead of just when I remembered.

I'm grateful for a lot during this journey—the doctors, nurses and entire medical team, my friends and family and strangers who prayed for me. I'm grateful for my husband, Matt, who has always been my "support" (in every sense of the word) for me during our life together, but especially when I was at my most vulnerable. I have felt so much love and support from my family and friends during this whole journey and it means the world when faced with cancer. Just a text saying hi can mean a lot to someone who is dealing with cancer every day.

Here's a little thank you card I made with Hero Arts Bookcase Background stamp...I'd send everyone a book full of synonyms of thanks for all the support and love I received if I could.

I want to remind you that you must be proactive and do those exams and remember that there is help, like the Pink Ribbon Girls groups for help with rides and food if you have no family close, should you ever need them. I hope that you don't. But being in denial and not facing cancer can mean your life. 

Do your exams, get your mammogram each year and pay attention to your body. 

Wearing pink is optional.

Happy Friday!

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