Those words still ring in my ears… albeit fainter as the years go by… “You have Breast Cancer.” Life forever changed from the day of diagnosis. Today I add another tally mark, another year of survivorship, another year of losing more friends to this disease, another year of remembering and implementing the lessons that I have learned from cancer, another year of hoping and praying that it does not come back, another year of making memories, but most important … another year of life!
cross-posted at marybethvolpini
I have not blogged on this site in quite some time. I just had my 5 year and 6 month check-up and I am good, a few minor problems but let me emphasize minor. The past year has been a very difficult and trying one. After 28 years of marriage I found the courage to ask for a divorce.
I have always been afraid of divorce. I am not sure if it was because I was so young when we met. If I was afraid of being alone… which is a funny concept because I have felt alone for much of my marriage. I was afraid of what others would think. I was afraid of the kid sharing. I was afraid that once I asked for a divorce he would not support us. I was worried about money, which is also a funny concept because I was worried about money with him too….probably more so. I was afraid because he was my first love. I was afraid to have to try to meet someone else to spend my life with and now even more so as a cancer survivor, with a double mastectomy. I was afraid because I love the idea of marriage and family and I desperately wanted to have a long-term marriage and a good family life for my kids.
We had talked about divorce many times and in fact were very close in 2006 and then the cancer diagnosis. We stayed together, but in hindsight I think that was the final nail in the marriage coffin… thank goodness in was not the final nail in my coffin. I learned so many lessons from my cancer, mostly what is truly important. It changed me in so many ways. I guess I thought it would change the others close to me too. I have learned that just because we learn lessons, it does not mean everyone else does. So many times after the cancer I felt like the glorified nanny and housekeeper. There were many issues that I could not talk about then, that I hope someday I can share in case other women experience the same with their marriages.
Over the past 5 years since my diagnosis, those that knew of my marital problems would say “you survived cancer, you can survive divorce”. I heard what they were saying, but I just could not find that courage. I felt cancer was different. I had a team of doctors that I trusted. They said “do this” and I knew I would do it and follow their directions to the letter. There is no trust in divorce… another funny thought because there was no trust in my marriage either. I was not blessed with being able to trust those who are supposed to love and protect you.
I was so afraid of asking for a divorce and then having my cancer come back, what would I do? I don’t know if my cancer will come back, but I know if I stayed it definitely would. I found the courage. Divorce is hard, but cancer is harder.
On the tough divorce issue days I think of the other Mothers on this site who are fighting their cancer daily, hourly and by the minute. I think of the women that we have lost and their valiant fight, they remind me everyday what is truly important and then I remind myself… “if I survived cancer… then I can survive divorce.”
Please say a prayer or lots of prayers and healing thoughts for one of our fearless and amazing leaders, Susan, she has been having some breathing and pain issues and was admitted to the ER on Tuesday.
I’m glad you asked. 🙂
As we know by now, there is way too much Pinkwashing out there. There are companies that manufacture pink ribbon products and give none or little of their profits to a breast cancer organization, and even worse, there are companies that get on the pink ribbon bandwagon that actually manufacture items with ingredients that are known to be carcinogenic. Check out the information on Think Before You Pink: it’s invaluable.
What we want to do, what Think Before You Pink, a project of Breast Cancer Action, wants to do is move the message from Awareness to Action. Action that will help save lives, action that will actually do some good and not harm breast cancer survivors, action that will have money go towards organizations that do good work in the fight against breast cancer. As Think Before You Pink states:
Think Before You Pink® always has been, and always will be, a grassroots campaign driven by individuals like you.
So this October we need your help in changing the conversation about breast cancer.
Enough pinkwashing. Enough awareness. We need ACTION to end the breast cancer epidemic.
Will you ask your friends to join you in taking action by Thinking Before They Pink this October?
You can financially support grassroots organizations such as Think Before You Pink or Breast Cancer Action which act as watchdogs for the pinking of breast cancer/National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They’ll tell you which products to avoid and which are actually giving a substantial portion of their profits to a breast cancer organization. These organizations’ emphases are on action, not awareness; on accountability, not pinking without thinking.
You can give money to a lesser-known research organization or hospital like The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation or the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic at MD Anderson Hospital in Texas.
You can give money, items, or services to organizations that help breast cancer (or other cancer) survivors and their families. This list is not exhaustive, but these organizations think about the whole family as being affected by cancer and work to make memories or special times for these families, things that these families might not otherwise receive because of hefty medical bills. The ones that come to mind are: Little Pink Houses of Hope which gives breast cancer survivor and their families beach retreat weeks for no cost except for tranportation to and from the beach; Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation which fulfills wishes of families where one of the parents has late-stage breast cancer; the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation which provides, as they say, “WOW experiences” for families with a parent who has a late stage cancer of any kind; and, the Dream Foundation which also provides trips or other experiences for families where one of the parents has late stage cancer of any kind.
I’m sure there are other worthy cancer organizations out there that I’ve omitted. I tried to include those that are lesser known because the large ones receive many donations already. If you know of an organization that I’ve excluded that doesn’t get much press and is committed to helping cancer survivors, please feel free to include it in the comments on this post.
If you want to help someone individually who has cancer, I can’t think of a better list than the one that Breast Cancer Action has created, What to Do When Someone You Know Has Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer. This one is aimed specifically towards breast cancer survivors, but I think it’s applicable to other cancers as well.
THAT’S how you can best help, in my humble opinion, of course.
Thanks for asking. 🙂
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.