Ok, everyone. I know I’ve been torturing you with waiting for the next installment of my labor story, and things in my life have been so CRAZY that I haven’t blogged at ALL in the past week. I’m soooo sorry! I’m posting today because I had the most empowering and angering conversation with an incredible, powerful, and inspiring woman last night. She is my new hero.
I don’t think I’ve ever spoken before about the fact that I am so passionate about breast cancer awareness. My dad’s sister, Aunt Debbie, was diagnosed in 1994. She was going through treatments and chemo when their mom, Grammy, died in 1995. I remember that week so poignantly. She wore a wig to the funeral, and a baseball cap the rest of the week. My cousin Spencer was too young to understand what was going on then. But Jen and I knew. I was 12, she was 11. And we got it. At least a little bit. And let me tell you, it freaked me out.
Now, I can’t tell you the details of her diagnosis and treatment the way my cousins or dad could, but what I can tell you is that she eventually went into remission. But then the cancer came back in her other breast and then it spread to her sternum. Spence was older then I know he got it then. She ended up with a double mastectomy by the time it was all over, but I don’t know when or how. Eventually, the cancer spread to her brain stem, and she was periodically having mets removed over the course of the next several years. At one point, Jen even took some time off from college to be home with her mom. I don’t know how she did it. The fact that she did makes her a hero in my eyes. But I don’t think I ever told her that.
Jen, if you’re reading this, you’re a hero to me. You’re the bravest girl I know and I love you. I don’t think I could have done what you had to do. You amaze me. And as far as I’m concerned, Ralph is the luckiest man alive. You make sure to tell him I said that.
When Aunt Debbie died in March of 2004, there was a loss and a sadness. But there was also a relief. After 10 years, it was over. She wasn’t being tortured anymore. She wasn’t gaining weight from the meds, she wasn’t trapped in a body that was constantly failing her, she was finally free. When Jen got married in 2007, I felt an emptiness in knowing that Aunt Debbie wasn’t going to be there to see her baby girl get married. But I knew she was watching and smiling, and my gosh that baby girl of hers looked so beautiful and happy. Even in the downpour, it was incredible.
So… after that, why am I so mad??? Because every day, we’re being bombarded my TV ads telling us to have a more convenient life, pop a pill, slip in a ring, slap on a patch (or did they finally get rid of that damn thing?) and life will be more predictable, less painful, less bloody. You might get blood clots, and gallbladder disease, and worse eyesight, and destroyed libido, and migraines, and weight gain, on and on and on, but it’s ok, because at least you’re skin looks good. Have you ever read the insert on your birth control???? Did you even know about all of what I just mentioned? Well guess what, now you’re introducing uninhibited estrogen into your system. Daily. And you’re inviting that story I just told you to make a home in your life.
More and more, I thank God that I was only on birth control for 2 years and I pray that it wasn’t too much. I pray that I don’t wake up one day and find a lump. I’ve watched friends and family suffer and fight, and glare cancer in the face and win. And lose. And it makes me so angry I’m nearly to the point of tears. What have hormone therapies done to us?! Are you feeling my outrage in your gut??? If not, WAKE UP!!!!!!! Read this again! Don’t choose blindness and ignorance. Choose knowledge and awareness. Fight like a GIRL!
The woman I met last night… her name is Koryn. She had breast cancer. She had her entire right breast stolen from her because of 13 years of the pill. Can you imagine what it would be like to be missing a breast? Try. Really try. Even when they rebuild, it’s not the same. No feeling, because all the nerves have been severed. No nipple. They may be able to recreate something that LOOKS like a nipple, but it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t erect, it doesn’t soften, it doesn’t respond to stimulus. It just sits there. If something bumps you, you can’t tell.
I used to always say that if it happened to me, I’d get them both whacked off and get a new pair, bigger and better. I don’t say that anymore. Never again.
We can’t afford to keep our eyes closed about this any longer! Please, read more about Koryn’s story. It will stop you in your tracks and force you to see breast cancer like you’ve never seen it before. Read, and be informed. Be educated. And get pissed off. Stand up to cancer and FIGHT!