October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I was so grateful that Brittany suggested that we dedicate a post to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Be sure to check out her blogpost which is linked at the bottom of this post.
According to the World Health Organization, Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.
So! Let’s raise awareness! Get the word out there. Early detection! Although Breast cancer is most common in women it can be found in men as well. Those annual doctor’s visits are essential. Weekly/monthly self exams are so important! Please do these things.
Clarice is a Breast cancer survivor. Though she doesn’t necessarily think of herself as a cancer survivor. “I’m not about to lead a parade.”
Knowing that each person’s experience with illness is of course, very personal, I was grateful that she accepted my request to visit with her about her experience with Breast Cancer. Before sharing with you our Q&A, I’ll remind you that everyone’s experiences are different. Here is one courageous women’s reminiscences about her battle with Breast cancer.
Q: How did you find out that you had Breast cancer?
A: I found a lump. It took me a month to get the courage to go see my doctor and face the whole thing.
Q: What was your initial reaction?
A: I had two initial reactions. First was, I was embarrassed. Our family had already had so many health problems. Just the year before, my son ‘A’ was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis [a rare disorder which restricts the blood flow to several organs] my husband had a flesh eating disease and has his emphysema diagnosis.
Cancer!? Seriously? Do we really need attention that much?
Now, I have to admit, I felt that we had already used up our quota of community prayers.
I felt sad. Sorry for my sisters- guilty that I’d introduced cancer to my family and that it was a possibility for them to have it.
Q: What was your family’s response when you told them that you were diagnosed with Breast cancer?
A: Shock. (pause) Dad was the one that always had something wrong. (pause) Poor little ‘M’’s face. He was so shocked. He didn’t believe me. He was getting ready to leave on a mission [for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] in two months.
Q: How did other people respond when you told them that you had Breast cancer?
A: Sad. I’ll never forget the look in peoples’ eyes. Some people looked at me like I had one foot in the grave. (laughter) The first time I had told someone other than my family was, looking back, kind of funny. I said to a Sister at church, “I’m not going to be able to do sharing time next month.”
“I’m having an operation.”
“What!? For what?”
“I’m having a mastectomy.”
The shock on that sisters face…
By that point I was mentally prepared to deal with my illness – I wasn’t bawling about it.
Q: What was it like being on chemo treatments.
A: It would take me until noon to get dressed. You get up, (pause) rest, (pause) bathe, (pause) rest, (pause) lotion, because your skin gets so dry, (pause) rest, (pause) get dressed, then rest some more.
Your hair falls out. It’s not funny, but I didn’t bawl about it. You know it’s gunna go.
[My youngest son] “O” thought I was doing pretty good, “You’re not even losing your hair, mom!”
“Wanna see something?” I said. I combed my fingers through my hair and pulled out a big ball of hair. It blew away like tumble weed. (laughter)
You have to build up the courage to walk into the kitchen to rinse with club soda because of all the sores in your mouth.
But there are good things. You can eat anything you want! No worries! No counting calories or carbs! If you can stomach it, you can eat it!
I remember being given a really rich cake once, I ate 3/4 of it myself!
I could buy fresh raspberries in November and feel no guilt over the cost. I can have this, I’m on chemo!
You’re never the same after – there isn’t really an end to it, your just kinda wrecked. Another cancer survivor told me that you just have to to find a new normal.
Q: I’ve heard you mention before that you’ve overcome far worse challenges in your life than battling Breast cancer?
It was far harder when my son, ‘A’ was sick. It was more taxing on me emotionally and physically, more everything.”
There are harder things I’ve gone through than battling Breast cancer.
Q: I don’t know who will be reading your story on my blog post, but if there was a person at the beginning of their battle with Breast cancer what advice would you offer them?
A: You have to see the funny side and find a coping mechanism. I literally laid on the couch and watched a new season of Murder She Wrote after each chemo treatment – I knew I’d be real sick for two weeks. Your brain can’t handle anything too intense. If you don’t want to think to figure out who the murderer is you don’t have to- you know they’re gunna tell you at the end anyway. (laughter)
You have to find a coping mechanism so you don’t sit there and dwell on the fact that you’re a mess, (pause) ‘Cuz you are!
It turned out fine for me. (Pause)
I wore my scarves. I never felt like people were staring at me until I started getting better- maybe I was too sick to notice before.
I kinda like my little scarves.
When I was late for something I’d get there and say, “I’m so sorry! I was having a bad hair day. (laughter) People wouldn’t know what to say to that. (laughter)
And!? (pause) I never had to shave my legs! (laughter)
Thank you so much Clarice, for sharing your courage and your story.
How can you help raise awareness?
To my fellow social media junkies:
Please use hashtags and consider sharing this post to help raise awareness for Breast cancer.
#BCA #BreastCancer #BreastCancerAwareness #BreastCancerFighter #Cancer
#FightLikeAGirl #MaleBreastCancer #Pinktober #RethinkPink #SelfExamination
HUGE shout out to my friend Nicole for snapping these fantastic shots for us.
XOXO Thank you for reading.