Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Warning: serious post..with graphic photos..I'm just sayin'...

Breast Cancer

OK..now that's over with.  Yes, this is "the" month to think about it..to see a lot of pink..

to try to remember to set up that appointment..

to try to NOT think about it..

..but you know what?  We need to think about it..all. the. time.

I had a mother with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy of one breast. No chemo. No radiation. Just "slice & dice" and go on your merry way..

She spoke so rarely of it that it was years later we found out our Grandmother also had breast cancer {she has passed prior to my birth, so I never got to know her}

But, doesn't it seem odd that that would not be spoken of ? 

And yes, I have had my go round as well. 

And I make jokes.  And I dye my hair pink.  And I remind Mr. B how much money we save by not buying bras...and I am all sorts of goofy...


Then,  just after getting the gene test {$$$} to see if it "runs in the family" and we were told we "do not have the errant gene.."..my sister, Gerri was diagnosed with it.  Lumpectomy. Radiation. Gratefully, no chemo..

It is no laughing matter.
And it needs to be thought about and acted on every day of the year. 

You see, I was told  my mammogram was good.  The lump I was feeling in my armpit was probably a cyst..definitely not cancer..wait 6 months to see if it grows..

Nope. I'd rather not, please.  Find out ...now.  They did and it was.  I insisted and I am alive.

But I am not a hero. I survived. I followed the regime and I prayed and I had more support and love and belief than one can imagine..but I was not the hero.

And most of that year.. I didn't laugh. Sometimes I still do not laugh. Sometimes I still feel "less than.."

And I am not a hero..it was simply not my time.  "They" were not ready for me yet. So many others have lost their battle and so many others were smarter, braver, stronger and more "important" to the world..the real heroes.. their contributions so much more meaningful than what I had to give..

I am not feeling sorry for myself.nor am I fishing for comments...just trying to be honest..and show you how important it is to know yourself..know your body..

I can't answer "why" I survived and  I don't  know what my "purpose" is..I didn't  try any harder or have any more "grace of God" than the ones who's cancer took their very lives from them and their families..

I was scared..I was lost..and I was unsure of anything for more than one day at a time.

I was not brave. I was not strong.

...I was a weak as anyone would be and any bravery came from Mr. B, who never let on that he thought of any other possible outcome than my complete recovery..even though, just now, 15 years later, did he tell me he was as scared and lost and fearful as I was...I just did what he told me and I believed what he told me to believe...and he told me to listen to that still small voice..he told me I'd survive and I did.

But,  the question of "why me?" did come...but not in the way you may think.. why was I left to live..why not me that passed from this world? Why did the others have to suffer so much and I pretty much sailed through it..why why why...

And....I'm really not certain why I  feel I need to post this..except that there are many faces of breast cancer..the face we show the world...and the face we see only in the mirror..not wanting anyone to see the scars..the mutilation..it is not funny.  

It is not of the flippant remarks that I sometimes make..

..it was not "the best  thing that ever happened to me" ..it was terrible..it hurt.  Everything hurt...the chemo hurt, the needle pokes, the catheter in my chest..the missing breasts... the "phantom pain" was real..and my bald head hurt...cancer sucks.

Just try to make those long distance phone calls to your kids..hear them cry..the sisters who love you and your big brother..to hear fear in their voices..cancer sucks.

So, here it is.  Here's the "face" of my breast cancer..the fate of many..and I am one of the ones who lived..

I am not brave.  I am no hero. But I do have a voice.

Please, please trust in your instincts. Question everything and everyone.  Pay attention. Educate your daughters and your Mothers and yourself.  Talk to your husbands or significant others..Get second opinions ..and third ones.

And look at these photos..this is the face of breast cancer...




I am not a hero.  I am not brave.  I was not strong..

....however, I am getting stronger.

-me

25 comments:

Charmingdesigns said...

Thank you sweet lady!

Karen said...

I know your pain from the other side. I know the pain of the daughter who watched her mother endure surgery, chemo and radiation, and overcome her disease only to succumb to a different kind of cancer. I know the sorrow, I know the fear. There is nothing in this world more horrible, and nothing that is more awful for any person, or family, to endure. Thank you so much for this post. If it encourages just one person to be checked, you've found your reason for surviving.

Neabear said...

Thank you for the reminder. I really need to get in and get checked again. Thanks for the kick in the pants to get going on that.

~Linnea

Muffy's Marks said...

Thank you for your honest dealing with Breast Cancer, I appreciate your candor. Prayers out to you for your vigilance and stamina.

Muffy's Marks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sonya said...

Oh dear Colleen, you are braver than you know. Thank you for the reminder to us all...that cancer is terrible, I have lost 4 people in the last 2 years from cancer. We do need to pay attention to the signs and our gut instinct.
Many blessings to you,
Sonya

ain't for city gals said...

Colleen ..do you read "GoWest" Feral Woman"..she is on my side bar...she is having surgery today...she is another amazing woman!

ain't for city gals said...

Boo hoo...I don't see my original comment so...I think they should do commercials telling your story..with your pictures. Not the beautiful women (not that you are not beautiful) in the beautiful spa like hospital with the beautiful doctors with the fairy tale endings. They should show it like it really is!

Holly said...

Dear Sweet Colleen, A beautiful post. Sometimes it's difficult for someone who's supposed to be a funny, uplifting blogger to write about something serious and close to their hearts. You did it with passion and grace. I am so proud of you.

Scrap for Joy said...

God Bless you Colleen for your honesty and your courage. My mother had a radical mastectomy in 1972 with no chemo (there wasn't any then I don't think). She lived 5 more years. She was 58, I was 28. Too soon. I had my annual mammo last Friday but more importantly is breast self-exam. We should know every inch of our bodies. Your post is a great PSA.
Blessings to you!
xoxo
Joyce
Love being your Pinterest follower!

Vicki/Jake said...

OK, let's get this straight...
YOU are a HERO.
YOU are BRAVE.
YOU are STRONG.
NEVER, EVER deny these facts!!!
And most importantly,
YOU are LOVED!

And I love that you can get away with going bra*less :)

Felicia Kramer said...

Wow - very powerful post! I lost my mother to breast cancer. To this day it hurts me that she knew she had a lump and avoided having it checked until it was too late. The good news is that it was a powerful lesson for her five daughters to be diligent. One of my sisters was diagnosed as well but hers was caught very very early and she is fine. I am religious about mammograms and self-exams because I have several other risk factors in addition to the above.

Thanks for your post, brave, strong hero!

Pen Pen said...

Wow, you ARE brave and don't kid yourself into thinking you are not. Thanks for sharing your story with us. My mom also had breast cancer and she was sick, sick, sick and sad, sad, sad throughout the ordeal. Once someone asked her about being a mentor for others facing the disease and she told them 'no' that she could not be an encourager; that it was horrible. Thankfully, she is cancer free over 20 years later and doing well!! Thanks again for sharing your story!

just call me jo said...

And Bertie is watching over your other shoulder. I give you kudos and hugs. You are amazing.

Garden of Egan said...

Thank you THANK YOU!
Excellent post!
Thanks for your raw honesty!

I work in the healthcare setting and you hit the nail on the head. Question everything.
Get to know your body.

Thanks for posting this!

I have a dear blog friend getting ready to start the fight on Monday....for the second time.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

((HUGS)) Thank you for sharing your story.

Kagan said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. Until I met you I had only ever thought of breast cancer one time in my life and it was a passing thought. I've never done a self exam. Until I Googled it I didn't even know how. Knowing you, being with you and learning of you has made me so much more aware. You're such an inspiration and I am SO glad you came into my life! I'm also very grateful that I'm safely seated at my kitchen table where nobody can see me tearing up. Thank you..

nana_ang_poppaphil said...

My goodness you may not think that you are a hero, but we all think that you are.
Thank you for sharing this with us all, and for not holding back. A fantastic post.

It is so important that we all do the self checks, get mammograms when required and not forget about the cervical smears.

Pearl said...

Love your honesty Colleen and showing women what you have been through. Awesome, Pearl

T's Daily Treasures said...

Colleen, you are a warrior and your purpose is to fill the world with joy and laughter. I always leave your place with a smile. And your honesty in this post just proves that you are strong and brave and wonderful. Best wishes and blessings, Tammy

lifeinredshoes said...

You think it doesn't take a great big dose of bravery to post those photos?

GUESS AGAIN MY FRIEND :)

Can I change my wording from hero to inspirational?

DUTA said...

You're an amazing woman, and so is your post.
Thanks for sharing and God bless you!

Breezy said...

Okay.. lets get one thing straight.. you are Brave... You are MY HERO!! I have never known anyone like you. I stand in awe most of the time.

LOVE YOU
g

Joyce said...

God bless you! You are one of the bravest women I've ever known. You sure as hell are my hero!

Ann said...

Thank you so much for being real and letting us see the true side of the battle you and so many others have faced. Everyone who faces and deals with cancer is a hero and everyone who faces that challenge must deal with it in their own special way. That is why your post is so important -- you allowed us to feel what you felt and more likely it is what each of us would feel if in the same position. It is not easy; it is not pretty; it is a hard and painful and discouraging and fearful thing to go through. Blessings on you and all who go through the battle.