This is the letter I sent to the American Cancer Society and was selected for a makeover on 19 Aug 2010 along with five other women. It was a great day.
I having meant to put this on here, but I have forgotten (one of the my little side effects). Anyway, I share this with everyone, but I hope it touches every woman's heart:
I write to tell you of my journey with breast cancer with two-fold hopes; that you will select me for a makeover, and that I may inspire another whose journey is just beginning. I am 45 years old and the daughter to parents who died of cancer, a sister to nine siblings, a mother to two sons, and a retired U.S. Army soldier.
In June 2009, while sitting in my office, I received the dreaded phone call that changed my whole world in four simple words: “You have breast cancer.” More words followed, but I heard none of them. In the following weeks, a series of a hundred invasive tests were performed, and I felt humiliated and embarrassed. Everyone was kind and patient, as quietly, I cried on the inside. I couldn’t believe what was happening; I didn’t feel sick, tired maybe , but not sick. I have always taken pretty good care of myself but when my sister was diagnosed as triple negative breast cancer patient in 2007, it got my attention and I got a mammogram. A mammogram caught my cancer early and although BRCA negative, I too, am a triple negative.
From the beginning, I promised myself that I would get up, dress up, and show up and for the most part, I have. I have children, and although grown, this is scary stuff so it was time to put the game face on. With every surgery and setback, I am more determined beat this. Fighting cancer has absolutely been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it has also been a gift. I look at everything much differently now. Today, six surgeries and several infections later, I will not stay down. I am a mother and a pink warrior. In Spring 2011, I hope to complete a Dual Master’s Degree. Strangely enough, college has been a source of strength for me; a way to help me maintain control of my life. It keeps me focused and it sets the bar pretty high for my children, too.
I have poured my heart into a blog, in a positive manner, in hopes to inspire someone else. I hope it has. One of my first entries in June 2009 was this:
“I am frightened, but I have faith. I am educated, but not in this. So, what's a girl to do? Put my faith in God and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. And that's enough for me.”
And so, I reflect on that passage and say, “Everything is moving along. I am still a little frightened at times, but I am not afraid because I have educated myself in this disease. I place my faith in God, always, and still believe that I am exactly where he wants me to be… today, and everyday… and that is all I ask for.
The bottom line is that in the last year, I have lost my breasts, my memory, all of my hair, my dignity, my strength, and even fake friends; however, I have never lost hope, faith, my family, my sense of humor or real friends.
My life has been a roller coaster of tears, fears, hope, prayer, hugs, help, and every other source of assistance imaginable. My friends and family are closer to me than I could have ever imagined and for which I am eternally grateful. My tush may be bigger, but so is my heart. I’ve lost much, but I've gained so much more out of life and each day is a beautiful gift. I am committed to living my life and not just merely existing in it. Not just for me, but for others like me.
My message for women: You are never alone. I know how you can be in a room of 50 people and feel completely alone, but shrug it off and get back out there. Define your cancer; do not let it define you. Put your face on it, not vice versa, and then walk this chosen path with your head held high. Have a positive attitude, and smile, and the world will smile with you.
As for me, I am committed to helping women. Even today there is still a taboo about breast cancer; I want to break it and keep talking about it - whatever it takes. No woman should ever go through this feeling alone.