Instead of using pink ribbons, let’s use a haunted house as the symbol of breast cancer.
As soon as I discovered my lump it was like putting one foot in a very dark, very scary, lonely haunted house… not knowing what to expect, being jumpy and full of fear, but still having hope that I’d be able to run the other way and not go any further into the house.
After leaving the doctor a few days later, I got my chance to pull my foot out of the haunted house and close the door behind me! They told me they were 99% sure it was nothing!
About a month later I entered the haunted house again, all alone, and the door slammed behind me. There were scary things lurking around every corner, especially in that first month.
A place so lonely, so dark and so terrifying. I was poked, prodded, scanned, and parts of my body were cut off. I was faced with the fear of not knowing if they caught it early, or if it would be a more advanced case. Would I be alive to see my children grow up? What would losing their mother at such a a young age do to them? How would I tell them I had cancer? The walls were caving in around me… the storm was loud and even though I had my family and friends, I was never more alone.
Eventually, I was able to creep slowly into the hallway, walking gingerly, still afraid the floor boards could fall out from under me. I was told it was caught early! My chances at a full recovery were good! It was time to put the plan in place and make things happen. I was still terrified, but was able to breathe.
A few weeks later it was time to move into the next room, a room where I’d be pumped with a poison that would kill cancer cells but also ravage my body and likely take 10 years off my life even if cancer never came back again. After I got used to it, it wasn’t all that bad, but still terrifying. Then multiple beams of radiation were shot at me for 33 days, burning my cells and my skin. Not knowing what to expect, and knowing the possible side effects including damage to the heart and lungs made this a horrifying experience.
After 8 long months, I was able to close the door to the haunted house and run far away from it… but not that far, because for those of us with early stage breast cancer there’s still a 20-30% chance it could come back. For me, that means there’s still usually that thought once a day or so that Isaiah and Andrew could be without a mom at too young of an age. I chase those thoughts away by reminding myself there’s a 70-80% chance it’ll never come back and I’ll live to see my grandchildren grow up! I chase it away by doing what I can to control my health. I’ve moved on, but the haunted house will always be part of me.
Breast cancer isn’t a pink ribbon. It isn’t a pink glove dance, or a bucket ‘o chicken. It is a horrifying, tremble-with-fear, scare-fest from hell that snatches moms, grandmas (even dads and grandpas) from innocent children every day.
It isn’t a gift – unless you like gifts with the potential to “keep on giving” in a way that could kill you at any time.
As we say good-bye (and good riddance) to Pinktober. Remember that there are survivors, fighters and families of those who didn’t survive who absolutely HATE to see October come around each year.
Put the pink ribbon back where it belongs… tied around the pony tail of a little girl’s hair… or on her Birthday present. Pink ribbons are happy, girly and cute. As far as I’m concerned breast cancer will never be any of these things.