Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The C Word - Hope, and Fun


In l990 the United States invaded Iraq and that same year I first heard the big C word and was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2003 we invaded Iraq again, and I had my second breast removed. We shall never invade Iraq again (if we ever get out of there) because I have no more breasts to give to my country.

My heart bleeds for every woman who hears the word breast cancer as her diagnosis. I have often felt the very air which we breathed full of fear and foreboding while sitting in my blue gown at the Mayo Clinic, together with 6 or 7 others waiting for the results or to go in for our mammograms. One time I looked and counted. Every woman’s left foot was jiggling with nerves and we were all united together.

But I am one of the blessed ones. At the present time, my cancer is in remission. I long to help others when they hear the same news, but so far my help has only been monetary and joining in the walks for cancer.

In Green Bay we have the 10K Bellin Run. I participated in 2003 with 15,000 others. I began with the crowd and was going along with a guy on crutches and a wheelchair alongside pushed by his buddies. Soon he tired and got in the wheel chair and off they went.

I walked alone down Webster Avenue, me with my number plastered onto my front. The street had been shut off to traffic, but when a Buick almost kicked me in the butt, I took to the sidewalk until I approached the turn on Green Avenue. This road is all downhill and I saw way ahead of me the wheelchair flying in the wind and the buddies running alongside it.

People were all along the race route and clapping as I went by. I felt very embarrassed until I heard one person say,”Now this is what this race is all about.” I raised my hand in greeting and plunged on. I quit at the half-way point.

In 2007 I thought I should try it again. This time I played it smarter and lined myself up at the head of the walkers, just behind the runners. I figured I had a better chance of having some company for a little while longer on the trail. I did for about the first mile, and then it petered out and I was walking alone again. At the way stations offering water they all looked behind to see if I really was the last one and I told them to never mind—I really was.

The hardest part of this walk was all the police attention I received. First one squad car came and asked me if I was okay and I said "Sure." He continued to follow me just to see. Pretty soon he got bored as I was still upright and drove off. This happened 4 times. I really don’t know if they were that concerned about me or if the people at the stations wanted to go home. I told the last cop that I wanted to get to the halfway point to ping the binger and so when I got there, lo and behold, of course he was there waiting for me. I really wasn’t tired yet and wanted to go on, but I figured I had better get in as he had been waiting for me and spent so much time on me.

I would like to counsel women who get this news, and yet I don’t feel I can because I was lucky enough to have caught both my cancers before I had to have chemotherapy. I think the thought of chemo scares me more than the cancer so I feel I have no right to counsel anyone. I’d like to tell them that mammography really does save your life and that early detection is vital and if anyone is out there now with this facing them---remember there are many, many survivors nowadays.

And actually it is rather cool not having to wear a bra -- ever.

9 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I think the message of early detection and mammograms is a very important aspect of surviving cancer. Hope you will do the run/walk next year and will advocate for mammograms.

Michelle Wells Grant said...

Bravo! What an inspiration you are! Your sense of humor reminds me of someone else I know.

Wanda said...

I don't know how I came across your blog, but I enjoyed it. My best blogging friend's name is Bernie also...she too is a breast cancer survivor...and counsels other diagnosed cancer patients...I will tell her of your blog...you are welcome at ours anytime!

Bernie said...

Hello Bernie, somehow I feel we were suppose to meet, am so happy Wanda told me about you. My name is Bernie (Bernadette) and yes I too belong to the Breast Cancer Survivor Club. I have to admit, not my first choice of clubs but I have learned there is life after cancer. Life can be wonderful for all of us who have travelled this road. Blogging is such fun, so glad you are enjoying it. I am glad to meet you and will come back to visit often....many hugs to you.....:-)

Wander to the Wayside said...

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, what a great post. I laughed at the thought of you being last and everybody checking up on you, because the vision in my mind is ... well,laughable! It also brought to mind the loved ones that I have lost to breast cancer (a sister-in-law, a friend, a step-mother), and the survivor I know (my step sister-in-law)who is still waging the fight. Congratulations on catching yours early both times, and kudos for reminding us all to keep getting those mammograms.

Bernie said...

Hi Bernie, it's Bernie....just popped in to say hello and hope you are feeling well.
I hadn't heard from you since I commented and I noticed you haven't posted in a while. Perhaps this is your routine as I am new to your blog and was not sure.
I will pop back again as I so interested in your views and opinions.
Take care many hugs to you....:-)

Anita said...

Good post. It was really deepfelt. Everybody has a cancer story, unfortunately. My 49 year old friend passed in January from ovarian cancer. Reading your post is reminding me to send her 21 year old daughter a note today.
I loved your 10k story. I have one in my blog too called "You Go Girl!"
Glad you're healthy. Keep blogging.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

I am also a double mastectomy survivor Bernie. It's strange but in the first years after the surgery (1994) I was aware everyday of my breastlessness LOL, but today it is only occasionally that I am aware of it. I swore from that first day when I found the first lump that I was going to live everyday to the fullest, not just sit around waiting for what happened next. I can see that you are the same. I haven't been brave enough to go on a walk or run yet but I would love to.

Take care

Margaret

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