I'm not really sure how a whole year has gone by, but I feel like I just wrote my 3 part series of "So Much Pink" like a hot minute ago! Crazy it has been an entire year of continued treatment, healing and recovery that has happened since then. To sum it up for some of my new angels here on Killing It Friday, that series was about my specific journey and how October can be particularly difficult for many breast cancer survivors, including myself. While I am all for raising awareness and funds to help those in need and hopefully shed light on how to be the best advocate for your personal health possible, the "rah, rah" celebration, dare I say, clamor, that this month brings to the surface can be a little heavy. Commercials and fundraisers bring out this happy, celebratory vibe that just doesn't resonate with me when I reflect on all of the pain and loss I have experienced due to my diagnosis. Yes, there have been so many incredible gifts and blessings, but they resemble a more somber, "I can't believe I survived this" form of reflection. It's not exactly the pink tu- tu wearing, save the ta- tas chanting kind of commemoration. As the breast cancer commercials and pink out rally's are constantly thrown in my face, I am reminded of how hard this whole journey is and has been.I literally woke up one morning last week and felt this weight on my shoulders and I just started to cry. There was something that triggered me and it just made me once again reflect, accept how my life has changed, dig deep, restore my warrior spirit and find peace for where I've been and where I'm going. This vicious cycle of sadness, pain, strength and resilience is just one of the many "new norms" (hate that phrase) that happens after you've drudged your way through the trenches of treatment and survivorship. I don't think that cycle is a bad thing, really. I mean, that type of sorrow and strength fuels tremendous gratitude and opens your eyes to be able to see what many in this world cannot. As hard as it is to deal with, it makes me so proud to call myself a survivor. I'm finding myself in the most compassionate, empathetic, caring, determined and resilient group of humans known to man. I'm honored.
So what do I recommend? I'm glad you asked. Clearly, first and foremost...use this month of awareness to make you more aware! I found my own lump. That lump turned out to be Stage 3 Cancer that metastasized to my lymph nodes. I had 19 lymph nodes removed and almost three years of "stuff" to get me to a healthy place. There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel this overwhelming amount of gratitude for my own ability to know my body and be willing to seek help when I didn't know, honestly what to do. You are your own best advocate. Period. No one is going to save you, your problems won't miraculously disappear. You must act.
The other bit of advice I have, is to take some time to reach out to a survivor and tell them that you are glad they are still here. It's really that simple. To know that people see us and support us...it just makes some of the heaviness a little lighter. There is this misconception that once treatment is done or surgery is over or whatever, that everything is just fine. As much as I wish it were that simple, it's just not the case. This beast of a disease rocks our bodies and haunts our wandering minds. It just doesn't go away. We rise above it. We refrain from letting it define us, but without a doubt it is part of our story. This morning I woke up to a message from a beautiful friend who just wanted me to know that she was thinking of me a little extra this month She wished me good health and wished me some peace.. She said I'm still in her prayers. That meant the world. To know that when I might not be able to carry this burden all on my own that someone is still there....through all of this, after all of this time....that is love and that is magic. She lifted me up with just those few sentences and once again my wings stretched out ready and capable of flying.
Also, reach out to the families of survivors no longer with us...your angel's life meant something to all of us. They did not "lose" a battle....that implies that they did not fight hard enough. They, you, gave it everything you had. The grace you and your loved one showed us by example, helps us to put one foot in front of the other today. We are strong because you are stronger. My love and admiration is indescribable.
To all of my beautiful survivors....I see you. I honor you and I applaud you. Your strength, your tenacity and your willingness to fall apart and put it all back together is heroic and quite frankly astounding. I'm so happy you are here and I'm honored to be included in this tribe of beautiful souls. Much Love-M
"I always wanted a happy ending...now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."-Gilda Radner