As a breast cancer soon to be survivor, I can tell you that I personally cannot handle when someone calls me "brave" or an "inspiration". I do not feel I was brave because I did not ask to get breast cancer and if given the choice between getting it or not getting it, I would gladly have opted out. Obviously, this was not an option.
I also do not feel like an inspiration though I have been lucky enough to connect with women who are in earlier parts of this process and maybe just maybe I have helped them a tiny bit and that makes me feel so happy.
Instead of those terms, I have decided that I would like to be called "tough". Tough is walking in to your own mastectomy walking-in-to-your-own-mastectomy.html, tough is working full time during 8 rounds of chemotherapy and tough is being a mom (in general - all moms are tough) and doing it with the diagnosis over your head. Oh and tough is probably in my mind because as a child of the 1980's I grew up to "Hangin' Tough" by NKOTB... (duh!)
I have found ways to manage, in the time between. I meditate, I exercise and I live each moment of each day to the best of my ability. Lately, that ability continues to improve and it is how I have found myself ready for my own next step when-god-closes-a-door-he-opens-a-window.html.
A big part of my healing process has been this blog, this unmasking of myself as one of the 1 in 8 women afflicted with this disease. When I got "sick", it was the best I have ever felt in my life. I was running around at warp speed, working full time and juggling all of the various roles and tasks that are in any mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee's life. I was doing it with aplomb - in fact, I could not believe people had complained about "having it all" I had finally found my own way to "have it all".
And then, it all came crashing down and each ball dropped and slid away as the focus became singularly and only ME, myself and I. I went from putting everyone else's needs first to having no ability to do anything about any one else's needs. I demanded help, people demanded to help me - it was a good mix.
I was lucky - so lucky to have been diagnosed. I am not kidding when I tell you I had no symptoms, no lumps, no family history and if not for my screening mammography, I would not be here today.
My children are tougher than tough - they have watched me wilt away, losing each hair on my head (and the rest of my body) and they saw their once vibrant do it all mama reduced to a puddle on the recliner and mainly in my bed. But they also saw me get up every day and go to work. They saw me put that wig on, straighten it and smile on the way.
I kept smiling and smiling to the point that I think most who knew the real story and what I was going through thought I was nuts. There were no chemo rooms as fun as mine. I was out there, loud and proud to most everyone who had no choice but to know - like my chemo nurses, my oncologist, all of Sloan, workmates and family and close friends.
But if I did not know you know you then I hid, I sat back and watched you thinking if you had any idea how go@damn lucky you were to not be bald, to not have cancer, to not deal with the uncertainty that is now a daily part of my and every other cancer patient's life.
Do not pity me though, I found more strength in baring myself to the world in showing my scars and my struggles I have found a new more vibrant toughness that is out and open for everyone to see. My children see it, my husband who has been unwavering in his support sees it and to all of you, I hope you see it, too.
My name is Lisa, I have one boob and I am the toughest broad I know.
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