I suppose it is a form of protection, bury it deep and it does not exist, but it is there, dangerously near the surface and the smallest of events can cause the gates to come flying open. Like last year, when a friend posted photos of a young breast cancer survivor wearing only her underwear. When I opened the link and saw the pictures for the first time I was stunned, it was me, we had identical scars, in all the same places. I was impressed with her bravery and strangely relived that no one knew what I really looked like without my clothes on. The feelings of shame and loss subsided, and life resumed its rhythm again. Then again in the spring out of no where those deeply hidden feelings were out again. We had just become members of the YMCA and I was swimming daily as part of my training for an upcoming triathlon. Of course it wasn't lost on me that I would NOT be undressing in front of other woman, and not because of shame but more of a deterrent to making them feel uncomfortable. I mean to see my naked body covered in scars could be disturbing to anyone that is unprepared. I had not mentally prepared myself for what it would feel like to be in room of woman of all ages that are in the nude. Woman comfortable with their own nudity, at ease as they walked freely around the locker room. You see on a daily basis I live with the vision of what my body is, I have become assimilated to that vision as normal, or my normal. Seeing what normal female bodies actually looked like set off something in me, a feeling of loss I had not really touched upon. I found myself welling up, uncontrollable anguish was taking over, I had to GET OUT of that locker room or I was going to become completely unglued. Just as I made it to the car the flood gates opened and I sobbed all the way home. Poor Brian, he had no idea what had happened and frankly at the time neither did I. It took some time and insight to realize just why I had reacted the way that I had. I really have never allowed myself to mourn my losses, I should just be happy to be alive, right ? For so long the multiple surgeries and near death sentence has been something that happened, something I worked through, something that has passed. I have always secretly cringed when people refer to me as a survivor. I don't feel as if I have done anything that miraculous, I was given a gift actually and I feel guilty at times that it was me and not someone more deserving. So you see to ever feel sadness or pain for what has happened to me it just seems like an insult to all those that did not survive, all those wonderful mothers, sisters, daughters and wives who were not given the chance that I have been given.
It feels very foreign to me to say that I have emotional pain regarding breast cancer, I am happy everyday, I am healthy, I am ALIVE, I live everyday determined to suck every last ounce of joy out of the time I have. I have never asked "why me", from the beginning I saw it as a lottery and I just ended up with the short stick, it could have been ANYONE, it just happened to be me.
This is the link to that very very brave young mother that bared all proudly.
So its October, look carefully when you purchase products with the pink ribbon icon, not all of them are helping the cause, some of them are just trying to make a buck.
Make sure you ask those that you love if they are due or overdue for a mammogram or check up, urge them, no FORCE them to make an appointment. Early intervention saves lives, it saved mine.
And please be kind to one another, just try to remember in your daily lives that every one's got something, you just can't see it from the outside.
6 months before cancer
6 years after cancer