ON MY SOAPBOX ABOUT BREAST CANCER
Happy Friday! I hope you all have had a great week! I can’t believe we’ve passed the first week of October already! Dang, time is flying by! Since it’s October, I get to get on my soapbox and talk about Breast Cancer Awareness. Also, if you are new to the blog, I am an eight-year survivor of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer and very lucky to be here! Triple-Negative Breast cancer (or TNBC) is a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Aren’t all breast cancers the same? Nope, they are not, and I always assumed that breast cancers were all the same. So, most all breast cancers are made up of three markers, estrogen, progesterone, and HER2/neu. Triple-Negative is not fueled by those markers, meaning that it does not respond to hormonal therapy medicines, and it is faster-growing cancer.
About 10-15% of breast cancers are triple-negative. It used to be a predominantly young black woman’s disease, making me think that TNBC is environmental. Now, it is affecting women of all ages, colors, and races. What is particularly frightening to me is that so many younger women are being diagnosed with it. Whenever I read of a young woman in her twenties or thirties being diagnosed with breast cancer, it generally seems to be TNBC. I am hearing of more and more women being diagnosed with it and other forms of breast cancer.
Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness
I write this post not to scare anyone but only to help promote awareness. You all know that if you catch certain cancers early, there is great hope for living a long life. I am one of the lucky ones! I remember being in the throws of very aggressive chemo in October eight years ago (after a double mastectomy) and I was bald! Also, I would go on to have radiation and reconstructive surgery. It was a very tough year, but I look back and can genuinely say it was an opportunity and I wouldn’t change it. This blog wouldn’t be what it is if it hadn’t been for cancer. The personal choices I make in life and the people in it would probably be a lot different too if it weren’t for cancer, however, I am not recommending it!!!
After going through my own experience, the most incredible privilege for me has been to help other women going through a breast cancer diagnosis. Being diagnosed is one lonely place. You can have the greatest support system around you, but they don’t really know how it feels if no one has personally gone through it. Have you lost your hair? It’s hard to tell someone it’s okay when it’s never happened to you. I had a great support system, but I had one friend going through breast cancer simultaneously, with TNBC (weird!) that understood everything.
We spent a lot of time on the phone together discussing how we felt, how we were coping with going out in public without hair, and other things. She sadly passed away, but hopefully, she knows how much she helped me. All that to say, that it is such an honor for me to help other women going through a diagnosis. I’ve always expressed on this blog that if you or someone you know is diagnosed, please reach out to me.
So, what is life like after going through breast cancer?
I still see my oncologist twice a year. She has recently asked me if I want to make it yearly, and I definitely say no! I like going and making sure everything is good. I get a cancer antigen blood test (CA-15-3), and she checks my girls. That’s about it. I’ve never had a scan because my doctors don’t do them; they say there can be too many false positives. So I go by those few little things. Do I worry? Well, it’s hard not to, but I have gotten really good at not. Life is short enough to worry all of the time. I trust God that I am healed!
My gynecologist says that breast cancer is the gift that keeps on giving! Boy is that an understatement! I had to have my implants exchanged almost two years ago because they were recalled for causing cancer (isn’t that fun?). Apparently, my vagina looks like the Sahara Desert (says everyone who has looked!), but I shouldn’t feel bad because every breast cancer survivor who went through chemo looks like that. That makes me feel so much better HAHA! I have a rash on my shoulder blade where the radiation exited my body that itches constantly, and here’s the latest kicker…I have to have my ovaries removed in December.
So, I say all of that not for you to feel sorry for me, but it’s what we survivors go through.
I would gladly take a few little things to be here, so I am really not complaining. Those minor nuisances are just that! I am one lucky girl! Okay, will you all do me a huge favor? Will you please do your monthly breast exams and get your mammograms? You can easily bypass everything I’ve said above by being on top of your health! Also, please let your daughters and daughters-in-law know that they are NOT too young to get breast cancer. TNBC is mean and nasty and does not discriminate in age.
You all might remember me mentioning products by Colleen Rothschild Beauty. I am obsessed with her eye serum! Colleen was diagnosed with Triple Positive breast cancer (which is positive for all of the markers) recently. She came out with a body butter called Breast Friend Self-Exam Butter to help with monthly self-checks. She is donating 100% of the proceeds of sales of that product to The Pink Fund. Also, she is one of the most beautiful (inside and out) women I’ve ever met! I am saying my prayers for her daily!
One other thing…if you do know someone going through any disease, I highly recommend this daily devotion. I have been reading it every day for the last eight years, and it has changed my thoughts on healing. I won’t accept anything other than good health!
Thank you all for reading this post. Talking about cancer can be a downer, but it is a fact of life that people get it. So, I hope that I can inspire you all to take care of your health and show that not all cancer diagnoses are death sentences. Look at me! There is always hope!
Have a great day, and be well and safe!
Photos: Beckley & Co
SOME PRODUCTS THAT GIVE BACK TO BREAST CANCER