It is once again October and the Pink is flying. Breast cancer awareness visually pushed into the forefront for all. Put aside the millions being made by the CEO’s running the charities or those behind the merchandising of all of the apparel and take it for what it should be, a moment to step back and recognize that awareness, testing and early detection really does save lives. So instead of a long-winded post rehashing my own story or one looking at so many strong women who have fought or are currently fighting this awful disease, I ask a simple question, when is the last time you had your mammogram?
If you would like to buy a pretty pink sweatshirt, pen, baseball bat or energy drink with the special label go right ahead but I ask you to go one step further. If you yourself are due to see your doctor and have your scans get off your butt and make the call and schedule your appointment. Today and all month-long as you interact with those women closest to you, remind them to do the same.
Today is a Happy Anniversary for me, the 2 year mark since I underwent the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a life changing day for me. I thank god that I had the strength to make such a decision. The year prior to the surgery was filled with doctors appointments, scans and blood work. The years prior to that were filled with biopsies and worry. Since I also had the DIEP flap procedure done at the same time, my surgery took over 14 hours and I spent 7 days in the hospital. The entire process took a total of three surgeries and several months to fully recover. I would say that it took about a year before I felt normal. I had numbness in my abdomen for a long time which was actually welcome after much pain.
I remember finally being released from the surgeons care many months after the BPM, walking to my car thinking both “wow” and “now what”? Strange right? Doctors became such a normal part of my life for so long that it was strange thinking about life after. For so long my entire life was associated with my “procedure” it became part of my identity.
I can not believe it has been two years since the surgery. I have not posted much over the last few months. I started this blog as a way to help me keep my thoughts straight as I prepared for and recovered from major surgery. As time has gone on I am not as sure as to what this will become. I have recently entered a political race for our local town council. I know that I do not want this sounding board to become anything political which is part of why I have stayed off of the pages. I also think there are already too many people posting about the day-to-day life of their children. For the moment I will stay in the background posting from time to time.
Things that I learned through the process, never look back! Make a decision and only look forward, trust in yourself that you made the right decision. Especially with my pathology findings of lobular carcinoma in situ, had I waited another year or two….I can’t think about it and thankfully I did not! Sadly, I also learned that many of the people who I loved and counted on were not there for me or my family when we needed them most. A hurtful reality but one that we have accepted. I no longer waste my time trying to keep our circle any larger than those who truly want to be a part of it.
I enjoy my family more than ever before. There are some who do not understand and to be honest I do not spend too much time explaining myself. I hug my children tightly and kiss them everyday. I enjoy every minute I have with my family and I never pass up an opportunity to tell them how much I love them. To all of the women out there, get you mammograms regularly, talk with your doctor and never be afraid to ask questions!
I was standing amongst a group of women the other day listening to the conversation. I am not fully sure how, but the topic of breast cancer came up. Three of the four of us standing there lost our mothers to the disease. As I looked around another woman close by recently lost a sister. It is not hard to find someone who’s life has not been affected by breast cancer, it seems in my travels it is nearly impossible.
According to recent statistics, about 1 in 8 US woman will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. As you stand in a room look around, count the woman in the room. Who will it be? With numbers like that what still astonishes me are those who do not have a sense of urgency to be checked. Women who find it to be too much of an annoyance to have the yearly mammogram done. For many of us the mammogram was useless. I used to also have yearly breast ultrasounds. If you are not fortunate enough to have a doctor who will write the scripts together you have to wait for the alarming phone call letting you know the mammo was inconclusive or even worse saw something abnormal. It is probably nothing they say but back to the radiologists for the ultrasound, very time-consuming. Most of my lumps never showed up on mammograms. Many times I heard it was probably nothing. Several of those ended up in biopsy until the day when it was the beginnings of something.
I was able to react, to take control of my situation because I was vigilant with my screenings. I hated it of course but a necessary thing. I had my first Mammogram at 22 years old and my first biopsy soon after. Mammograms, Ultrasounds surgeries and MRI’s made it clear what my future would hold. Because of screenings I was able to seek out advice, talk to experts and make the decision to have a preventative mastectomy before ever having to face any type of cancer battle, thank god!
Complain, whine, scream if you must but make your appointments and have the screening done! Somethings are just too important to wait!