Tag Archive | routine mammograms

Pink ribbons vs. bandages


Now that October is here you are probably seeing those pink ribbons everywhere you look because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It seems that there are more and more products sporting a pink ribbon in every aisle of every store.  I never paid a lot of attention to them before.  I knew what they were for and would occasionally pay more to get whatever it was so a few more cents could go to breast cancer research but that was the extent of it.  This year more than ever I am fully aware of each and every pink ribbon I see.  At first it sort of excited me and I would smile and think out loud to myself, “I can relate to that.”

It’s hard to explain but another part of me does not  identify with a pretty pink ribbon.  I tend to think that men who get breast cancer (YES men can and do get it) really can’t identify with a pink ribbon! There was nothing pretty or girly about the whole experience for me.  I think back on the surgery, and the chemo, and the side effects, and the radiation, and the drugs, and the doctor visits, and the hospitals, etc.  I can identify more with a bandage covering stitches from a lumpectomy or a bandage where an IV was pulled out than I can with a pink ribbon.  I can identify more with a band aid covering where the blood work was taken from or with a scarf covering a bald head than I can with a pink ribbon.  Don’t get me wrong…I am all for research and raising both funds for it and awareness but in a way, a pink ribbon troubles me.   I am left now with scars from surgery and drugs and tattoos from radiation that pink ribbons cannot cover up.

I am proud to be a survivor and I will wear a pink ribbon with honor as one but I’m not so sure it is a good representation of breast cancer.  There is nothing pretty or pink about it.  It’s ugly.  There’s nothing cute about it.  The closest resemblance I can think of is after your hair falls out and starts to grow back in it is like a soft fuzzy peach, like a newborn’s head, and I guess that reminds you of a cute baby or a pink ribbon!

Aside from my ribbon  ramblings since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month, let me take this opportunity to once again remind you ladies that are due for one, to please schedule your mammogram!  I know it’s no fun but many times the things that are truly worth it will cost us something….in this case discomfort, okay, a lot of discomfort.  It was through  a routine mammogram that I was diagnosed.  Often times you cannot feel anything but an x-ray will pick it up.  If you wait to go until you feel something it is probably already advanced.  If you have the opportunity to walk or run for Breast Cancer (Race for the Cure, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Think Pink Walk, etc.) or can buy a product to help fund research, do so!  Kohl’s has two pages of items $10 or less that when you purchase them, 100% of the net profit goes to supporting the fight against breast cancer. Check their website under women’s cause merchandise  Elle collection.  This is just one example.  Your donation could be helping out yourself down the road or your own mother or sister or niece or wife or daughter!

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2012:

Maybe a pink ribbon is not the best representation for breast cancer but I can think of one symbol that I would agree with.  Whenever I see a cross I think of the sacrifice that Christ made for me.  There is nothing pretty or pink about it. The cross was rugged and probably splintered. Nailing anyone to a cross is ugly.   It had blood dripping on it where they nailed his hands and feet to it.  At the same time because of what was accomplished on it, it holds a certain kind of beauty. Christ died on the cross but he did not remain defeated.  He conquered death. His nail scarred hands show His love for us.  ” He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 NLT  He loved us so much, he stretched out his arms and died.

I guess it’s the same with cancer.  It’s ugly,there’s  nothing pretty about it.  At the same time there’s  a certain beauty in the battle scars because we are survivors.  We are fighting or have fought the battle and we are winning or we have won.  We are victors and that is a beautiful thing…pink ribbons and all.

It’s Good to be Alive

Why is it that so many of us don’t look forward to celebrating our own birthdays because it means we will be yet another year older, when in reality we are only one day older than the day before?  Remember when you were young enough that you couldn’t wait for your next birthday and would tell someone you were six and three-quarter years old!  That three-quarters was very important to add because it meant you were almost another year older.

Birthday cupcakes that my daughter and her friends made for me!

I had kind of blocked out exactly how old I was once I approached middle age and found myself having to do the calculations when it came to filling out forms.  Let’s see, if I was born in so-and-so year and now it’s such-and-such year, then I must be “x” number of years old now.  It was never something I wanted to dwell on before…GETTING OLD.

Well guess what.  Today I turned 53 (and yes, I did have to calculate just to make sure I got it right and wasn’t adding extra years on) and I was happy to celebrate my birthday!  I’ll tall you what made the difference.  Getting a diagnosis of breast cancer this year and realizing that without it there is a possibility that I might not have been here to celebrate my birthday today has made a difference.

My mom wanted to know why I was reminding my Facebook friends that my birthday was coming up.  Was I really “anxious to be a year older”? No!  I was rejoicing that I was alive to celebrate my birthday this year.  I know that some people believe that frequent mammograms actually contribute to breast cancer.  I believe that it is because I did have routine mammograms that my cancer was found in stage 1 before it had progressed further.  Women hear me out.  DO NOT put it off if you are due for one.  Only one year had lapsed for me between mammograms when my cancer was diagnosed. Do you want to celebrate your next birthday?

A very special birthday card I received this year!

Time is God’s birthday gift to each one of us that celebrates a birthday. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”(NLT)  Life is short.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Our days are numbered. Time is a treasure that attracts many robbers. How are you spending your days?  Don’t live in regret. Write a bucket list and start it!  Attend that reunion.  Take that road trip. Make that phone call.  Nike has that great slogan, “Just do it!”

My father had never skiied a day in his life and took up skiing from 70 – 80 years old. He lived near a ski resort and lift tickets were free to those his age (I tried to help him see the logic in that to no avail). He bought equipment at a yard sale and hit the slopes successfully anyway.  I’m not saying you have to be that extreme but is there something you have been putting off doing?  Be courageous.

I love the lyrics to a song by Point of Grace called “How You Live.”  It mentions not spending your life looking back, of taking chances, facing things, thinking of others, and making peace with God. Check out the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNOvLqNVnSY

There’s a song by Jason Gray called “Good to be Alive.”  The chorus says,

“I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say ‘thank you’

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be, it’s good to be alive”

Yes, it’s GOOD to be alive but just being alive isn’t enough.  It boils down to how we are actually living each day.  Be THANKFUL for each day.  Live life to it’s fullest.  Don’t be afraid to “turn up the music” loud or to “use your good dishes.”  At the same time realize that our time here is only a taste of what is to come.