I have received a few requests to repost something I wrote on BreastCancerorg. It was in a thread asking "What Has the Pink Done for You: Good," meaning what good has come out of your breast cancer experience. So, by popular request, here it is girls:
I don't know if any of you have ever noticed this about me but I am sometimes opinionated.
I once wrote a piece for a publication that was entitled
"If someone offers you a pink ribbon strangle them with it."
The editor thought it was a tad negative. Perhaps I had best not offend the hundreds of thousands of women who run, walk, race and live and die every day with a pink ribbon proudly pinned to their chests. She was right. I was in a bad place and saw nothing pretty or pink about cancer at the time. There I was, NED*, three years out with more side effects from my treatment than I care to think about. I was trying to get people's attention to raise money towards research in the piece, but the title hinted at my untapped anger I had at BC in general.
Three years later here I am back in chemo again. I have no hair or eyelashes. My body is screaming from the Abraxane. I have a newly inserted tissue expander that replaced my ruptured one that has to be squeezed, smashed and smooshed and drained with an alarmingly large needle every single day because there is so much fluid around it my "breast" gets to be the size of a football. I missed chemo this week because of it and that means that I will be done in November now instead of October. I have Lymphedema in both arms and I am, in a word, a chocolate mess.
CANCER CHANGED MY LIFE.
For the better.
Yes. You read that right.
I got a new primary the second time around. I could have been diagnosed with mets. With my node involvement I may face that diagnosis someday. We are all an MRI or PET/CT away from hearing that news. Am I going to wait for it?
I AM ALIVE.
I have met the best friends I ever had in my life since I have had cancer. I have seen the best in people and the worst in people. And what's more, I have seen the best in me.
Because of cancer I found that inner warrior inside - that we ALL have - who only reveals herself when we really, truly need her and when we least expect it.
Because of cancer I am smarter. I can speak Doctor fluently now.
Because of cancer I know better.
Because of cancer I can spot BS in under 45 seconds.
Because of cancer the air smells sweeter, the sun shines brighter, and I have become a part of all the beauty that surrounds me.
Because of cancer I know I can handle just about anything.
Because of cancer I have been touched by women all over the world and I know them and they know me and we are sisters.
Because of cancer I have been given the gift of being able to actually make a difference in someone else's life.
My life may be shortened, but it will be lived better than a lot of people I know who have never had cancer.
It also made me mad as hell.
But am I going to let the Beast win?
And make the Beast’s day? Are you kidding??
I refuse to let cancer take over.
I HATE that song "Live Like You Are Dying"
This is what the Beast hopes for. It is what it likes to do even more than kill us- it likes to rob us of our hope and spirit.
I have lost friends to this Beast-I have seen them die.
It is horrible and scary and sad and infuriating.
I didn't survive cancer surgeries and treatments to live like I was dying! I am going to LIVE LIKE I AM LIVING!
If I get down about side effects or long term disabilities from cancer, or life changes that happened because of cancer, I will be damned if I am going to give the Beast credit.
I am going to give it hell instead!
The Beast did not take away my life.
The Beast did not take away my spirit.
The Beast did not take away my heart.
The Beast got some tissue, a few cells and some DNA. I reciprocated. I removed the rest of the tissue. I killed the cells the Beast was living in. I stopped the DNA from duplicating so it would die. I gave the Beast radiation, adriamycin, cytoxan, methotrexate, 5-fu, and abraxane. Someone should have told the Beast not to bring a knife to a gun fight. I don't play fair because either does the Beast.
I don't permit myself to circle the negativity drain. Life is too short to waste one precious moment dwelling on all that could have been and would have been if I never had cancer... I have the here and now. I know what I have to do to be NED again and I am doing it. It is practically killing me- but I refuse to give the Beast an inch. And I will let my Plastic Surgeon squeeze the ever livin hell out of my breast until heals and looks right again, because when I dance with NED I want to look hot.
You won't find me ringing the dinner bell for the Beast.
Get up, look up and never give up.
* NED stands for No Evidence of Disease, technically. But to breast cancer survivors it is a HE and he is our knight in shining armor and we all want to dance with him forever