Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

My Love/Hate Relationship with October

on October 4, 2012

When I turn the calendar page to October, I do so with a mixed sense of love and hate. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. October is also the month I discovered my lump and began my breast cancer journey.

Two years ago, I would barely notice the pink gloves the football players wore during Sunday’s games. I thought it was cute but a little silly to buy a water bottle with a pink ribbon. I didn’t see the connection. Or, more importantly, I didn’t take the time to think about the connection.

Now, I see things differently. I pause, I remember and I think when I see the pink firetruck. I notice ALL of the  pink gloves, pink cleats, pink sweatbands and pink towels hanging from the back pockets of the football players on Sundays. I notice the pink donuts, the pink bagels, the breast cancer commercials promoting awareness. I pause and appreciate the heating company who donates money to the Susan G. Komen foundation for every service call it has in October.

I see these things differently because I really have no choice. I was that woman in the waiting room two years ago. You know her. She’s the one you don’t want to be…the one who the nurse comes out and says, “The Dr. would like you to have further testing in THIS room.” Everyone avoids eye contact with her but thinks, “Oh good. She’s the one today so maybe I won’t be.” That was me. Then, the words biopsy, cancer, MRIs, mastectomy, decisions, reconstruction, became constants in my vocabulary. My amazing husband learned to change bandages better than any professional nurse since he changed them with such love in his eyes. My son and daughter learned what it was like to think about your mom and cancer in the same thought. My daughter made plans to shave her head of the THICK head of hair she had her whole life. My journey was not at all the complicated ordeal of many. I chose a bilateral mastectomy and I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. Sometimes, I think I got lucky and had the “Cancer Lite version”.

In October, I see the pink now. I see beyond the pretty pink ribbon. I see women. Women who have died because they found a lump and ignored it. Women who have dense breast tissue and their lumps went undetected. I see women who couldn’t afford mammograms and didn’t know about the options they had. I see women who are scarred from lumpectomies and are still beautiful but don’t realize it. I see women like me, who had a bilateral mastectomy and fought their way through months and months of surgeries and recovering to feel whole again. I see future generations of women who worry because their mother had breast cancer and secretly worry about getting it themselves. I see women who have lost their battle, are fighting their battle and women who see a battle ahead of them. I see women.

Before my breast cancer, I saw a pink ribbon. Now, I see a collection of strong, beautiful, young and old women when I see that pink ribbon. I am grateful to them all.

The problem is in October I see it everywhere, everyday, multiple times a day. I see Breast Cancer Awareness at Starbucks in the morning. I hear an ad for a walk on the radio on the way in to work. I see a pink firetruck on the road and a pin on a coworker’s lapel. I can’t help but buy that water bottle that says, “Fight like a girl” or share the video above from a 3x breast cancer survivor’s daughter. I can’t stop seeing it all, feeling it all, or reliving it all. Each year it gets a little easier but I won’t pretend it is easy. It is scary to remember because for me, I am never really sure it is gone completely. The threat of return is always just below the surface for me and October makes me feel that vulnerable feeling almost daily.

I am proud to say I am a 2 year breast cancer survivor. I wear the label proudly every day in October. My heart, ears and eyes perk up all month at the mention of that pretty little pink ribbon. I remind friends and family to keep their mammogram appointments, to listen to their bodies and to be aware of how early detection saves lives.

When I turn the calendar to November though, I am grateful for the end of my emotional roller coaster of the month of pink.

6 responses to “My Love/Hate Relationship with October

  1. Pat Smiley says:

    A very moving post, Kay! God bless you in October and every day of the year!

  2. Mary says:

    It was as if you were speaking from my heart! I was that girl in the waiting room too. Your words so genuinely express the feelings of those who survive cancer……..and October! And learn and grow from both! God bless you Kay!

  3. Kay says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting. So many feelings this month . But proud the be a survivor.

  4. […] My Love/Hate Relationship with October. […]

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