Friday, February 4, 2011

my yearly mammogram

                                relay for life- helping survivors celebrate more birthdays

As a breast cancer survivor, ever year when it comes time for my mammogram, the nerves start. I'm not so much afraid, but I am afraid. Not so much for myself, even though I seriously don't want to go through that again. Knowing what I know now. Seeing or hearing of others going through it is one thing, you can sympathize, offer kind words and go on about your merry way. Whistling a tune thinking the world is a happy place. When it comes knocking on your door, its an entirely different matter. NOW you understand. With each different test, procedure and treatment your awareness grows. Part of you possibly feels guilt and regret over how indifferent you seemed at other people's illness. Part of you may be angry. Part of you, is afraid while part- the strongest part, is determined to beat this new enemy.

I did not need to suffer through chemo therapy. I did have to have radiation treatments. The radiation treatments where first off embarrassing for a person who is very self conscious. To have to stretch out on that table and bare it all so that it all can get radiated is nearly as embarrassing as it is important. Even as the technicians have seen it all --this is you--and you are not comfortable with this. Second the radiation treatments to me- and different people react in different ways- the radiation treatments left me a walking zombie. There were days it was nearly impossible to put one foot in front of the other. There were days I would have loved to have pulled the cover up over my head and slept- for days. During the treatments I was weaned off of my junk food diet. Processed sugars and caffeine made the exhaustion from the radiation worse. There was a small amount of burn, like a mild sunburn. That didn't bother me too badly. I've had some serious sunburns in my time, this was nothing compared to them.

I still have the certificate I was given on completion of my treatments hanging on the board in my kitchen. Along with most of the cards that I was sent during treatment. Guilt came in there as well, I was receiving cards and messages from people I didn't know, encouraging me. Because of that, I will forever be more concerned over others suffering through the battle against cancer. Any type of cancer.

I'm no so afraid of the cancer returning, even if it meant my death. I know where my name is listed. I worry about my family. I can vividly recall the expressions that were on each face as they found out. The fear, the sadness, the realization that we will each have to at some point face our own mortality. Even as we may celebrate the fact that a life of suffering has ended and the person lost has opened their eyes in a much better place..we mourn our loss. We mourn that we are separated from them. I would not want my family to mourn, but as I know that I would mourn losing any of them, I know they too would mourn me.

I dread my yearly mammogram, not only because of the embarrassment, or the pain- and it does hurt being mashed up like that- but for the time spent wondering about the results. All manner of thoughts pass through as time drags by. And you wonder, what if the answer is, it has returned.

For myself, I believe that I would fight just as I fought the first time. I will do my best, to actually do better than I did the first time. At that time, I was not only battling cancer, I was trying to help my husband find a job- while working a full time job myself. I would have a better diet, exercise more, rest more and do my best to not stress so much. Things I am actually working on now- in the hopes of helping to do what I can to prevent its return. I have two more years of medication to take, hopefully once that is passed, then I will be physically handling the preventative thing well.

I hope that the time I have spent working with the American Cancer Society and their Relay for Life will help me knowledge wise should the cancer return. I know now, things I did not know then. What is available, how to find help, what they do for those battling cancer, cancer survivors and their caregivers.

I do dread that yearly mammogram- but I know how important it is for me. I want others to know, just how important it is and that it is not something that can be put off till next year or when ever the mood strikes. My cancer was caught early- thanks to that mammogram. I will celebrate more birthdays, I will spend more years with my beloved family and friends. I will work as much as I can, as well as I can with Relay for Life to help others do the same. Won't you consider it as well?

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Blessed in His Promises

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  1. I remember vividly when you were beginning that journey several years ago. I'm so glad that your cancer was caught early and that you did not have to go through the chemotherapy! Very good reminders to get that yearly mammo.... I must schedule mine soon, so thank you for that!

    God bless you as you continue on your path of recovery and good health, my dear friend! You always inspire me with your strong faith and positive vibes.

  2. Colleen,thank you-- no matter the passing years, that is something that remains right as you said- vivid- in memory. So much so that any time I know of a family or friend going thru it I am right there as much as I can be. Thoughts, help, prayer-it is a battle in every sense of the word and one that I hope to see an end to in my time. That's why I work so relentlessly with Relay for Life-besides- I look pretty good in purple ;)