Today is October 1, the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s also the day my dear friend Sharyn is relaunching her website, Sensitarian.com, which is devoted to connecting the needs between consumers with food sensitivities and restaurants, eateries and the food industry. I personally have a temperamental belly; about seven years ago I was diagnosed with food sensitivities ranging from avocado to zucchini. How can my body be sensitive to foods that are good for me?! It’s not like I’m eating cream cheese and tootsie pops all day. So I for one am excited about the relaunch.
Sharyn was all ready to go with this site a year ago until … well, I’ll let you read what she wrote last year which ended up putting the launch on hold:
I have always loved October. I’m not so much of a summer person. It’s fall that I look forward to every year, and no month more than October. October is when the flurry of back-to-school has settled into routine. The oppressive heat and humidity dissipate, and cooler air sets in. Leaves begin to change colors and flutter to the ground.
It’s also my birthday month. The time of year when I get older. But that doesn’t excite me very much anymore, partly because, well, birthdays just aren’t my thing. I enjoy the day and all — mostly because it’s the one day when I hear from my closest friends all on the same day. I’m just not big on presents or parties to celebrate the day I was born. My own birthday was never that special, but the fact that my older sister’s birthday was four days before mine, and my mother’s birthday was the day after mine — well, sharing my birthday week made October extra-special growing up. That sense of shared anticipation and celebration stayed with me into adulthood.
When my older sister died in 1996 of complications of Juvenile Diabetes, everything changed. Her birthday became a day to bring sunflowers to the cemetery. My birthday, four days later, turned into a day to feel grateful for living the life I live, for the privilege of getting older, for becoming a wife and a mother, two things my sister didn’t have the time to do before she died.
Today is October 1, and everything has changed again. It’s exactly eight weeks since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My oncologist tells me that I don’t actually have breast cancer anymore, since the surgeon removed it with a lumpectomy. Technically, I am in “treatment” for breast cancer. But every doctor’s visit, every chart, every insurance filing, has the diagnosis “breast cancer” attached to it. It’s like a label I can’t un-stick.
I know how lucky I am. I know that I have the “good kind” of breast cancer. But I’m still scared. Maybe I’m still in a bit of shock, even. And all I want to do is run away from October.
October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As if I need to be more aware of breast cancer. The fact is that I can’t escape it. Was it always this way and I just didn’t tune in? The pink ribbons, the yogurt lids, the pink pony.
Last weekend was the Breast Cancer 3-Day in my area. I’ve been a supporter in the past, happy to help my sister-in-law and niece reach their fundraising goal when they walked a couple of years ago. I even took my sons out to cheer them on, as the course took them close by our neighborhood.
When I saw the walkers in their celebratory pink tutus, feather boas and fuchsia wigs, I’m ashamed to say that I wanted to turn my car around and go a different way home.
“I’m sorry,” I wanted to tell the walkers who were celebrating their survival or memorializing their mothers, friends, grandmothers and aunts who died of breast cancer.
I’m sorry, but I’m just not ready.
I’m not ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month just yet. Can we put it on hold until I get through my treatment?
I’m so sorry that I can’t join in the crusade this October. I can’t get out there and walk. I can’t go “shop for the cure.” I can’t even listen to the new Martina McBride song on the radio without changing the station.
But there is something that I can do this October, this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I can say, “Thank you.”
Thank you to the walkers and the artists and the survivors and the donors and supporters. Thank you to the grocery stores and yogurt companies and corporations. Thank you for raising awareness of breast cancer and for all of your efforts to fund a cure.
It’s because of you that my doctor found my cancer early. It’s because of you that my treatment plan is proven. It’s because of you that I will survive.
Sharyn, I sincerely hope your treatment goes well, without any hiccups or urgentness or speedbumps. My husband had the “good” cancer too… only needing surgery and radiation. Still, once that word has been spoken it does seem forever attached. I wish you well with your health and the website. Happy Fall!!!
Kelly ~ thank you for your encouragement!
This is such a powerful story. I shed a few tears. It’s OK if you aren’t ready. You’re in the middle of it. I’m glad you got treatment early. I want to join you in thanking all of those people that have made early detection possible and for raising money and awareness for the cause. Thank you for sharing your story!
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