October is here again. Breast Cancer month and pink ribbons all over the place. And soon, Halloween! It’s going to be a busy month. Anyway…
I have a new cover photo on my author page. Just a few of the things I have here at the house. The envelope contains my ultrasound films from July 2011. Quite possibly the worst month in my life in recent memory. But they’re here because sometimes people ask about them. The “Fight for the Pink Team” T-shirt is new. As is the black bracelet that says “fight like a girl.” As much as I love that slogan, I can’t help but think about the man I met in the elevator on my way up to my last oncologist appointment in California. He was considerably older than me, and looking at him you couldn’t see anything was wrong. But he was going to the doctor, or maybe the infusion center, because he had breast cancer. There is always so much focus on women when it comes to breast cancer, but it truly does not discriminate. Young or old. Male or female. We shouldn’t forget about the men. Sure, they’re a small percentage of the patients, but it happens. As for the gene. I remember asking about the implications for my son prior to my BRCA test. What I was told was if I tested positive for the gene (thankfully, I didn’t!), if my son had daughters, they’d have to be vigilant about their breast health. As in check ‘em and get tested.
Do your monthly checks. So even if your latest mammography says everything is fine, check every month. In the shower, in bed, getting dressed in the morning. Just make sure you do monthly exams! I can’t stress how important it is to stay on top of this. If I hadn’t been doing monthly checks, I would be in a much worse position than I am today. The doctor was able to get all the cancer and my chemo was aggressive. Sure, I lost my hair and I felt like crap. Yeah, radiation changed my skin on the left side forever. But I’m still here. And I still do my monthly checks, even though I had a second mastectomy before reconstruction. As the nurse practitioner in my onc’s office and the breast surgeon said: anywhere you have skin should continue to be checked. I don’t say this to alarm you, but to remind you to remain vigilant, even though “they got it all” because there is no guarantee that they got all the breast tissue. I think it’s more likely that they did, but just like everything else, there’s a disclaimer, and that’s the one I got in May.
The last object in the picture is my gray camo-pink butterfly bandana. My favorite bandana. I had others. Some different colors, some for specific holidays (the Christmas & Halloween ones were fun, and I love the monkey one I got to amuse my son—he had a thing about monkeys for a little while then). But I always came back to the butterflies. I wore that thing everywhere. It was crucial to my getting through chemo and after, although one of the best days was when I had to fold it up and put it in a drawer because my hair had grown in enough to go without.
One of the most recent best days.