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.
My family, they are my life, my heart and the most important thing in my world. There are forces around me that do not understand that and the reason is simply that they have never taken a minute to get to know me.
Everyone’s priorities are different and that is one of those wonderful things that makes the world go around. I do not judge others, or at least I try my best not to. One thing that will immediately spike my anger are those who seem to do just that to me.
How did I get here?
Maybe it was a father who left when I was a baby and never looked back. Maybe it was the financial struggles that resulted from this, losing our house, never having my own new clothes or eating pancakes for dinner instead of meat. Maybe going through 12 years of Catholic school being told I did not have a “real” family or seeing all of my friends living “normal” lives. Maybe it was the death of my mother after a long battle with cancer. She was a difficult woman but one I loved with all of my heart. Maybe it was my own decision to proactively remove part of my body due to questionable biopsies, a surgery that was life changing. Maybe it was the fact that the pathology from that surgery showed that cancer was most certainly in my future, a future that was changed due to my decision to have the prophylactic mastectomy with my families support. A decision that certainly humbled me!
I did not get married right out of college. Frank and I were married several years before deciding to have children. We did the career thing and made very nice money. I was obsessed with the next promotion and the next raise and I did very well. We lived a life for a while where we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it. I was 32 when Megan was born and ready for the next phase in my life. Many around me then could not understand how I could walk away from a lucrative and successful career to become a stay at home mom. To me that became the most important and fulfilling job I could ever have! Years later to be faced with the realization that cancer could be such a real threat, it made me recognize how quickly life could change and how dear I held those close to me.
I now have an understanding that a “normal” family is any that is loving, caring and provides for the needs of those individuals with in it. It is impossible to describe what that looks like since they are all so different. I have also come to peace with the fact that many people do not understand us, to those folks I can only wish for them a moment to slow down and enjoy what they have. What I do not give is an apology for knowing who I am and what is important to me. I will never apologize for putting my family first.
Over the next many weeks I am excited for the start of the soccer season. For Madison, it is her first opportunity to play on a travel team and at a more competitive level. Her team will take to the field Friday night for the first of a 3 game/ 3 day tournament. Frank is an assistant coach on her team and both are excited to hit the field. I love watching the girls play and have admittedly become a proud soccer mom. I plan on seeing each and every game (fingers crossed for schedules that are accommodating 🙂 ). Megan will start the season the weekend after in a labor day tournament.
As the summer comes to an end and we gear up to head back to school, the calendar is filling up and I realize, I would not have it any other way! Sometimes it is good to step back and remember what is really important to you!
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!