PINKtober- “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.”
Time for an update…or a statement of sorts. Awhile back my daughter Kaylee who is now 11+ years old said something to me that has stayed with me to this day. Her and her sister were having a petty argument of some kind. They both came running into my room and Kaylee is ready to state her case. She starts off by saying the following about her sister… “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.” I couldn’t help but laugh:) When I think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the same words come to mind. “Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.” Sure, she is pink and pretty…and when you make anything pink and adorable it’s cute right? Sadly, it’s not. For many who have battled this disease it sort of puts a big pink bow on cancer…and it can get old fast. A whole month is a lot of pink to take in. (oddly enough my birthday is smack in the middle of this month as well;) Don’t get me wrong, I have a new found love for pink. Since I was diagnosed last year I wear my breast cancer pins regularly, I have pink shoes…and even a tattoo of a tiny pink ribbon I see everyday in the mirror. But… I feel like those things are bought on my terms, and are things that have been given to me, or charities I know have been involved in their making. Not, a supermodel with a pink ribbon on her nipple in some ad. Or someone trying to sell an item for pure profit using a pink ribbon as some sort of gimmick.
I guess, I just ask that this month you take the time to see past the pretty pink ribbon that is slapped on most things…and see that this horrific disease is nothing but pure evil. It is hell, and I will be the first to say that.
Breast Cancer changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I never thought at 32 with a 4 & 9 year old at home I would have to fight like hell just to live another day. That the Gift of Life is just that…a Gift. Not a guarantee. That those women who I admired and who I fought with side by side would not “lose their battle,” but fought like hell until their bodies could take no more. They left this world as Warriors and nothing less than a title of Warrior would be fitting. But, with that…my heart was still breaking. For their families….for their kids…for their parents….and all who they left behind. The sadness that follows is unimaginable.
I can’t even find the words to express how this has changed me. Not only the physical, but the emotional. From my body, to my pain, to infertility, to not sleeping…to people starring…to a million other things. Most days I can keep it together….and others, something will trigger a thought in my head and it’s all I think about.
I wake up everyday and have an internal fight that races through my head. I am so eternally happy to be here and see my kids and my family and be present for all the joy that they give me, while at the same time washing off my now deformed body in the bath with tears streaming down my face….filled with sorrow. I look at myself and see two large scars where my breasts use to be, and I know in an instant breast cancer was the culprit. Being feminine was never really my thing…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want my breasts. I chose not to have reconstruction because what I lost that day, I cannot regain. I can’t have a surgeon work his magic and somehow make me look “normal” again. He can’t make me look like the “old me.” I have to learn to mourn that loss…and try to move on. This….this, is my new normal. Slowly, I am starting to realize that. I am now 33 years old and walk with my head down each time I get out of my car and use my Handicap pass. I see others looking at me, and wondering why in the world I would need it at my age. The short answer…breast cancer. The long complicated answer…Taxol, a chemo drug has a side effect that includes neuropathy..numbness in hands, fingers, legs, feet…and so on. To keep my life I was told chemo and a double mastectomy were needed. Sadly when chemo is given it has many many side effects. Some stay with you a short time, some a lifetime. But, at that point in the game, what choices do we have? None. We fight, and we push forward and we agree to anything they say will make this go away. So, now a year+ out from chemo I have almost no feeling from my knees to my feet in both legs. Even now, I write this at 4am in my bathtub….which is usually where you can find me. The one thing I can feel is temperature change. So, I take a lot of baths…. A LOT. When my legs are bad, like now when the seasons are changing I can take 12+ baths a day. It takes up a good portion of my day some days and is beyond frustrating, when I have so much I want to do. They ache and they are sore and I can’t move or walk or do much…so a long hot bath helps give them life for a bit, so I can try to get a little stuff done. Last year, just playing with my daughters I stumbled and broke my hand. It was chilly outside and after awhile I had almost no feeling anywhere in my legs, and tripped. I have tried different medications and therapies and so on to help this…but nothing has worked. So, I just do my best. Sleeping…and staying asleep when they are aching is a big problem.
I could write a book on the ways that Breast Cancer came into my life and screwed everything up. As I sit here from my bathtub…the house all quiet….I realize though I am doing my best. Everyday I wake up and God gives me a another chance at Life, I try to make the most of it. More than that, I try to remember those who fought this battle before me and are no longer here. What their loved ones would do for just another moment with them. So, even if I have to yell “quit bickering with your sister” from the bathtub… I realize that it’s the best I can do at this moment. I am here for them, I’m trying, and right now in my life that has to be enough.
So, I will wrap this up by saying just as my daughter did…
“Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.”
(Not Sophie, I’ll always be fooled by her cuteness:) lol
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to remember that all cancers, including breast, are taking the lives of people you know and love everyday. All cancers need a cure….period.
I ask that every time you see a pink ribbon this month you look past the “cuteness” and see this disease for what it truly is. Do a breast self exam every single month, get mammograms yearly, go to the doctor immediately if you ever find something and get it checked out.
Please remember these statistics:
*About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
*In 2014, there were more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
*An estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. About 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in MEN in 2014.
*About 40,000 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2014 from breast cancer.
I will end this with some of my favorite quotes, and update photos of my family:) Love to all❤️
Dear Jen, thank you for your clear and thoughtful words. I am glad to know some specifics, and will shape my prayers for you and your family with those in mind.
I’m sure you know that I and the FPCR family send you their love and will support in whatever ways might be useful.
Thank you John:) Things have been a bit crazy here lately and we will be back soon, we sure miss everyone.
Sunday is my birthday, so we will try to make it! Thank you for the support. Jen