October. We all know what it means. We all know what it stands for. We are all doused from about July until November with pink. The most girly color ever. You know what? Women who fight breast cancer don’t want pink. They want strong colors. Because they are STRONG. And SURVIVE.
I refused to participate in anything “pink” until September was over.
I dedicated September to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month just like everybody else should have. I thought about all the families I know that have been touched by childhood cancer and those families I know who have lost their children to that horribly ugly disease. Did you know 46 children a day are diagnosed with cancer? Did you know that 7 children a day DIE from cancer?
I am so hurt for those parents and families who, for their entire month that’s been dedicated to them, the “pink craze” starts creeping in. It’s been creeping in for months. Pretty soon, it’s going to take over the whole year. Which it should. Just not “in-your-face-all-over-everything-I-want-to-buy” taking over.
But now. Now it’s October. The world will be covered in pink. Everybody will be all “aware.” There will be walk after walk after run after fundraiser. And still? No cure. Not even a real humane and less painful way of dealing with it.
But Cancer is ugly. It’s gross. It’s bullshit, man.
Have you had a cancer scare? If not, you will. The statistics are stacked REALLY HIGH against you.
Well, I have. Almost 5 years ago at my yearly girly check with my beloved Dr. Paul, he found something. In my used, floppy boob. There was something. He used the word surgeon in the midst of all the “Charlie Brown teacher talk” he was doing. Apparently once you hit 30, if there’s something in there, you see a surgeon to have them assess the situation further. So of course I did. And well, really they should send you straight up to them instead of waiting like two weeks to work you in.
In the course of the next two weeks I proceeded to work myself into a full-on-panic. I was surely going to die. I would get sick, lose my breasts (which please, take them both, I don’t need them), lose my hair and end up dying a painfully horrible death. I was scared. I won’t lie. I was scared. I had a 2 year old and I was scared.
Saw the surgeon. He did ultrasounds and all. Everything appeared to be “normal post-baby, post-breastfeeding, extra lumpy tissue.” That’s not the medical terms, but you get it!
I saw him every 6 months. Nothing changed. I saw him for 3 1/2 years.
About 2 months ago, my girls started hurting. A lot. They were painful to touch, hurt when nothing was touching them and were swollen. And no, I wasn’t pregnant! (thanks for asking though…it would validate the weight gain)
I made an appointment with Dr. Paul. The something from 5 years ago was still there and was the source of most of the pain. He saw me immediately and I drove to Macon from Atlanta for the visit. He had me schedule a mammogram.
Remember that “scared” feeling I talked about. That was nothing. NOW I was scared. I don’t think anybody quite knew how scared I was. This wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny that something hurt that bad. It wasn’t funny that I was going to have to let some x-ray tech smoosh my very painful boobs in the mammogram machine. It wasn’t funny that I could get some horrible diagnosis that would affect the rest of my life.
The mammogram was fine. Hurt like hell, but the results were “all clear” and “normal.” (YAY! Dance around with me! YaaAAYYY!!) They also did an ultrasound which showed “extra thick tissue” in one spot, the original something spot. A follow up with Dr. Paul and the surgeon would reveal that I have Fibrocystic Breast Disease, which pretty much just means I have lumpy boobs and they may hurt every now and then.
I was instructed to be vigilant about doing monthly self-checks. Uh, yeah… of course I will be!
So. For now my story ended up nicely. I’m not going to lose my hair or my boobs or my life just yet. Not from breast cancer at least.
But unfortunately, that’s not the case for everybody. This year over 200,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed and over 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.
So do me a favor. Feel yourself up. Every month. Whether you’re 18 or 80. Do it.
Why? Because I said so. And because you shouldn’t have a something in your boob!