Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

Peace out, cancer.

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October- Breast cancer awareness month. I’ve lived through my first one as a survivor. I’ve heard a lot of opinions from other “pink sisters”- some love it, some hate it, and many fall somewhere in the middle. I love that there is such awareness about it and tremendous support. I am thankful that if I had to live through cancer, I lived through one that has a huge financial backing for research and a hopeful cure. This month was a little surreal to participate in the Volley for the Cure with Rob, the Pink Out at Norwin High School, a fashion show fundraiser, and a cancer awareness luncheon- all as a survivor and not just a supporter. Some survivors say that they don’t like to be reminded of their struggles for an entire month. I’m still “in it” so it’s no different to me whether the rest of the world is on board for a month or not. And I feel like the way I’ve seen support from all of you holding this space with me since January, that it’s been a significant part of your life as well. Thank you. 

So- my soapbox. Do your self exams… at least once a month. It is so simple, costs nothing, takes a few minutes, and can save your life. Literally- SAVE YOUR LIFE! Why wouldn’t you?! Like, do it now really quickly. A self-exam is how I found my lump. I was always doing exams- multiple times a month. I had an annual check-up on Dec 8 (where the doctor did an exam and there was nothing palpable). I did my own self-exam on Dec 29th… and felt a definite lump. 3 weeks from one to the next was enough to go from “nothing” to “whoa… what is that?!” If I had waited longer… well you could be reading a different story right now. Women already have a 1 in 8 chance of getting this… which means there’s a chance that one of you reading this may someday be in my shoes. And I want you to catch it early and survive with me… deal? Laura Ritter Allio was one of the speakers at the luncheon yesterday and had a fabulous idea. Pull out your cell phones right now and find the 18th (since the ratio is 1/8)- mark that as “health day” and make it a recurring event every month to do your self-check then. Simple enough, right- ladies and men- we all need to do it. 

And my last point. As the pink outs and pink socks and pink ribbons fade after this month, please continue to pray for everyone fighting all kinds of cancer. Breast cancer was the kind of cancer I had, but it did not define me and I won’t let it. Breast cancer fits in as a part of my life experience, but it is not ME. I am a wife and mother. I am a daughter and sister and friend. And, above all, I am a Christian saved by grace. That defines me. That is who I am.
Peace out, cancer.

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