(Originally posted October 2018)
It's October again. Breast Cancer Awareness month. How did that happen so fast? 12 months flew by. It has been 12 months of friends sharing cancer scares and cancer diagnoses; treatments and tears.
It has also been 12 years. 12 years since I was diagnosed and treated. There weren't a lot of tears for me during that time. I was on autopilot - a list of doctors and appointment, taking each step of my treatment, handling logistics. I don't recall ever crying. I'm not sure I ever deserved to cry. My cancer was the 'best possible kind' of breast cancer (isn't that an oxymoron). I had good health insurance, an incredible support network, amazing doctors, and I came out the other side. I know so many who had it so much harder.
I use each October to share my story so that you are inspired to stay current with your screenings, and for you to encourage your mother, wife, co-workers, friends, and siblings to prioritize their health: conduct monthly self-exams, and make and keep mammogram appointments. Women notoriously put themselves at the bottom of the care list - putting family and friends and work (and almost anything else) first. Don't let anyone do that this year. Hold them accountable to you for their appointment. Remind them to take 2 Advil before and to buy themselves a gift after (this year, my gift was a glazed pumpkin spice Krispy Kreme donut).
If you receive a diagnosis, do your research, surround yourself with a strong sisterhood of support, and keep your sense of humor. If you know someone going through cancer treatment - BE PRESENT. Don't ask what you can do - just do. Send notes, leave messages, drop food, take out the trash, raise money - support in the best way you know how.
And if you need me, I will be there - for the next 12 months, or the next 12 years.
Care for your breastises.