October has been deemed breast cancer awareness month. Most of us are aware of this. (Especially we women). It has not been as acutely relevant to me until this year. I believed I was fairly well educated on the topic of breast cancer until this past week. Since then, I have read and learned a lot more. I have found information out there both confusing and conflicting. This is not a blog post intended to encourage people to go get mammograms either. Personally, I have not chosen to get my little boobies smashed in the machine for several years. I am not necessarily intending to do so any time soon either-so please don’t attempt to lecture me on the need based upon reading the following. I am of the opinion that our bodies are our own and that I am a grown woman capable of making my own decisions about my life and associated health and health care needs.
That said, my “F” word for the week is F*#K and it’s followed by the notorious “C” word!!! Yes, that’s it! Just two powerful words tonight. I thought (again) about ending the “F” word blog, now that a year has passed and my 50 or so “F” word posts have been used. But, I couldn’t resist using the BIG “F” word after finding out my sister has breast cancer last week.
Last week, I didn’t start out “feeling” good. Call it intuition, call it what you may, I just felt “down”. I cannot describe it. Something felt “off” and I felt sad about a lot of things. The end of the week proved worse than the start of it when I found out my sister’s mammogram was suspicious and the subsequent biopsy revealed a malignancy. I am still processing the news and trying to gather more facts. I guess I’ve discovered I cope better by having more information. I realize people cope in myriad ways.
I learned this week that the best part of the diagnosis is that the tumor is likely only stage 1 and that a stage one diagnosis is almost always curable. However, the specific tumor cytology that presented, will evidently require her to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to blast it most effectively. At this point in time, neither the specifics of treatment nor the order of treatment have been decided upon.
It just fills me with fear, anger and anguish to know another person (especially someone whom I love dearly) has to go through the treatment and embark on a journey of this nature. Certainly, I have accepted that blessings along these journeys arise (mostly spiritual, intangible and esoteric in nature). In my own case, I am not sure the rewards of traveling the arduous journey have been worth the agony of the trip? Will those rewards ever outweigh the price I subsequently pay? The questions and ensuing answers are perhaps private and personal. For myself, considering the journey I’m still on (as it relates to cancer), I can’t render a final decision at this juncture yet.
In the meantime, the disease which someone recently put so eloquently and captured so well visually for me after Marit’s last scan: “Cancer in the rear view mirror”, has unfortunately been placed in front of me again.
Serendipitously (which I often feel my entire life has elements of), I attended an annual CaringBridge 2-day Executive/Advisory Board meeting last week. It felt very comfortable and meaningful to be surrounded by fellow board members who have had similar life/health experiences as me and whom I felt care about me. I was an enthusiastic “user” of the CaringBridge site initiated by my sister-in- law who started a site for our family in the early days of my daughter’s brain cancer diagnosis over 7 years ago. Though it’s the organization’s longer term goal to have CB used as a vehicle to use to document our life health journeys, I know it’s not a preferred communication source for everyone.
That said, my sister has not started/may not start a CaringBridge site – If any of you reading wish to communicate directly with her, you may private message her or me via Facebook or email. ***PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL TO NOT POST ANYTHING CANCER RELATED ON HER HOME FACEBOOK PAGE AFTER READING THIS ***. I know she would appreciate that. She is aware I am posting this information on my blog and has given me permission to do so.
I remember one of the most helpful phrases I heard within days of my daughter’s diagnosis was this: “Cancer doesn’t just affect the person who has it, it affects the entire family!” In addition, it affects friends, communities and others as well. I’m a proponent of rallying prayers and support from many places.
I know I am not the only person who has coped with cancer. It helps me to know I’m not alone. I hope to be a valuable/loving support person along the healing journey my beautiful, strong, loving sister will take in order to restore her perfect health!!!
With the ultimate healing powers of God, the power of individual and collective prayer, positive thoughts and effective medical, surgical and radiologic treatment, my hope and prayer is to F*#K Cancer Forever!!!