It’s October, so get out your pink. I’ve been so hesitant to embrace the pink in the past- I think because I feel guilty that other people don’t get a whole month of recognizing their challenges in life. And I was so determined to not let my experience define me. But the further away I get from the shock and fear of what I went through, the more I can see the value in acknowledging the importance of the challenges and celebrating my cancer-free life.
Today was “wear pink” day at work. I almost didn’t wear my shirt because it said “Survivor” on my back. So I wore my work backpack for a lot of the morning to conceal it. Then at lunchtime, we gathered for a picture for all the employees who wore pink to work. And there, one of my closest survivor friends, Melissa Samulak greeted me with the best hug I’ve had in a while.
There are a lot of really crummy things about 2017. But there are at least as many, if not more, wonderful things. One of them was meeting this woman who would fight her own battle shortly after me. I still cannot clearly explain what it feels like to go through cancer treatment while working at a very public place. But the comradery and closeness of walking alongside someone whose experience is similar is something very special. After catching up with her and seeing her beautiful smile, I was reminded that being a survivor isn’t something that should be covered up by a backpack.
Thanks to everyone who wore pink today at work. And to everyone wearing pink at their own workplaces this month.
I’ve been a little absent from posting for a while. Trying to be online a lot less and not over-thinking everything in life. But I do have some good things to share, and I think this month is a good time to restart the blogging. Stay tuned…
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.