“I saw your video… I was just diagnosed…”
She was as normal as normal could be. Another mom. Dropping her child off at pre-school. Healthy. Fit. And a recent joiner of the Pink Ribbon Club.
All I could think was, no.
I immediately knew where she was. The point where she didn’t yet have all the information. Where she doesn’t have her treatment plan. Where she’s going through the motions. Looking at her hair in the mirror in the mornings. Wondering if she’ll do chemo. If she’ll lose that hair. Wondering what she’ll do about work if she has surgery. Thinking of cancer as a word without a feeling attached to it yet. Not knowing how it will define itself in her life. Wondering how she will tell her kids.
I told her I was here to talk if she needed but that I knew everyone probably said that already. That I know it’s overwhelming at first because everyone has someone you have to talk to. And maybe she’s not ready for that. I told her about my young moms group… the fUBC. That we drink and text and chat. And she was welcome. But I totally get it if she’s not there yet. Because I know she might think that sounds cumbersome and sad… sitting around, talking about cancer. We have the same team so I told her what to expect a bit. I told her I’d pray for her. And have been doing so. Because I know that’s the one thing that always seems to bring me peace. Love, light, prayers.
I was her. A year ago. I was her. And now, she is just one of the many. To join this club that no one wants to join.
I was her and I was still lost as to what to say or what I could do to magically make her feel like her life was not over. I was her and I was scared for her. I was her and I wanted to tell her to look for the goodness but I didn’t know if that was flippant. I was her and I can’t believe now, a year later, that I was. As I laughed and smiled as we talked. And she laughed and smiled. I wanted to hug her, but I don’t want to creep her out. And I didn’t want her to feel how hard my foobs were and make her scared. I wanted to say, “you are a kickass warrior and you will rock this cancer’s world,” but I didn’t want her to think I didn’t understand where she’s at right now. In the space between.
She’s just starting her journey. Her life has just catapulted down a completely unknown path. And just months ago, she lived a normal life. And I’m just finding a new normal. My life feels like mine again. My fear is tempered and almost non-existent. And I know that leaning on my team and God and anyone I could… being carried through… was the best way through. For me.
I didn’t want it to be her. I didn’t even know her but I didn’t want her to be dealing with this. I don’t want it to be anyone. But right now… it’s 1 in 8. It’s your neighbor. Your mother. Your friend. Your cousin. Your sister.
Right now, it’s her. Last year, it was me. And there have been thousands in between and hundreds of thousands more to come. Some who will live with breast cancer. Some who will die from it. And all, whose lives are forever changed after they receive the diagnosis that they are one in eight.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Don’t just be aware of the pink ribbon. Be aware of what breast cancer looks like and feels like and do your own self breast exams. Be cognizant of your own family history. Be vigilant in your own care. Be active in your own story.