My grandfather and my great grandmother both died from cancer. My grandma had three different types of cancer including breast cancer followed by a mastectomy. It’s not like I didn’t know my chances. Every day I wondered if and when I would get cancer. I donated to every breast cancer organization and did all the 5k’s, even the Susan G. Komen 3 day. My favorite charity to donate to is The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I got yearly mammograms and exercised like I was told. Some people just wear “pink” in October, but I wear pink year round.
The Truth about Breast Cancer Awareness
October is the “breast cancer month”. Pink everywhere you look. People encouraging breast cancer awareness and support. To most, it’s a time for encouragement. To people like me, breast cancer survivors who have faced this disease, it could be a lot of other things. It reminds you of the pain you suffered. The life you lost. The cruelty of our world and how sometimes it is just not FAIR! And now, I wear pink year round.
This year, my second Cancer Free anniversary, I want to focus on the good and share my knowledge.
I have a million stories about being a breast cancer survivor.
Crazy things that happen to you and your body.
Absurd things people say to you.
How you lose friends when you get cancer.
Instead, I’m going to take this time to share some advice from myself as a 40-year-old breast cancer survivor, because I wear pink year round.
Tips from a Pink Pro
First, you need to be vigilant about your health. That means exercising and listening to doctors and getting your well-checks every year. I started getting mammograms when I turned 35 because of my high-risk family history. A mammogram was the only way that my cancer was detected. I’m definitely not saying that a mammogram is going to save your life every single time, but at least you are being vigilant and staying on top of your health by getting these yearly checks.
Secondly, listen to your body. Be aware of changes and new things that come up (or go down). If your doctor doesn’t believe you or listen to you, find a new one. I know tons of survivors who took action when their regular doctor dismissed them. I also know tons of people who have lost their lives because their regular doctor didn’t listen and they weren’t willing to stand up for themselves. You must do the hard things.
Third, if you are diagnosed, you need a support team. Your family, friends, and spouse will be your lifeline to make it through your diagnosis and recovery. My people had fundraisers and brought goody baskets. They made us food and spoiled us during recovery. My husband worked from home the whole time and took me to every single doctor appt. Even now, 2 years later, we still celebrate with our tribe.
Fourth, know that it will get better. Things will be hard in the beginning. Very hard. I had small children and I had to tell them all about what mommy was going to go through. Still, I’m not sure they even realize that I had 6 surgeries to save my life. As soon as the doctor gave me the all clear, I started walking. I was tired of laying around and being sad! My options were to get better or stay hurting. I chose to fight and push myself to be better for my family because now I wear pink year round.
Keep on Living
After my diagnosis, I knew that I had choices to make. I could sit around and feel sorry for myself or I could make a difference in someone else’s life. The following month after I started my recovery, we started a tradition where we would share joy and kindness with others for 30 days. We’ve continued to do that every year since. I hope that I am the reason someone wakes up and says, “Today I’m going to make it and I’m gonna fight this”. I want to be an inspiration to others and let them know that your life doesn’t have to stop just because you wear pink year round.