This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while now. It’s about breast cancer and awareness. You’ve probably seen advertising, pink ribbons, etc. during this month of October–Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My thoughts are to just have awareness–always. If you have questions, discover a lump, have a family history, or notice any changes in your breasts, seek answers right away. And remember–we all have breasts. Get a second opinion if you feel something is not right.
BREAST CANCER. These words were rarely spoken during my mom’s battle some forty years ago. It was felt but never openly discussed. Everyone was hush about cancer in general. It was like using a swear word. Grasping the consequences of cancer as a young person and not understanding what it meant left me saddened and confused. Honestly, it pains me to think of her death as being silent, but it was just the way times were. Through it all, she taught me a ton and I’m sharing…
My own breast cancer was discovered after a mammogram, one that I persisted in getting. Losing my mom to this dreadful disease meant leaving nothing to chance. I was young, healthy, racing my bikes and enjoying life. As I was being diagnosed, my aunt’s death from breast cancer was imminent. I went to a support group on her behalf but soon found my own therapy through art and writing. My very first mammogram was unsettling — I was told to repeat in six months. A friend advised me to see her specialist right away rather than wait. My left breast tested positive for cancer. A modified radical mastectomy left my under arm numb for years. Overwhelmed but relieved not to have any further problems or chemo, some ten years later I discovered a lump in my right breast through self exam. More surgeries. Early stage cancers have good prognosis. I’ve been counting my blessings every day. Thirteen years free since then.
Pink Dress, Self-portrait, diptych. March 2013
Awareness is so important as we are now in an age of better imaging, treatment options and various support systems. This year I especially wanted to acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month in memory of my courageous young mom Ellen. The twentieth day of August marked forty years since her passing. Hard to believe it’s been that long. She was so strong and fun loving. I’m thankful to have some sweet memories of our times together.
My heartfelt thoughts to those fighting all cancers and for their families who need support too. Supporting causes that help bring funds to a local level is great, but so is helping in any way you can. Maybe just lend an ear to someone in need. That’s something we can all do. Loving thoughts to my mom, dad, sister, grandparents, relatives and friends. Miss you all. I know I’m one of the lucky ones. My message is simple; awareness. Love you all and am very thankful to have you in my life. My ma would be proud of me. xo