Breast Regards

I actually wrote “breast regards” in an email the other day and I almost sent it until I caught it. I had a good laugh about that. Kind of a weird Freudian slip. Or maybe not.

I’ll be walking in a fundraiser for a breast cancer foundation pretty soon that helps provide mammograms to women (and men) who can’t afford them. I’m a huge believer in mammograms as a screening tool, so I raised some money for this organization.

I was diagnosed last November with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer (hence the reason I’ve had boobs on the brain).

I had no symptoms, no visible signs, no lumps. A mammogram picked up the problem, picked up that the cancer was in various places in my breast. So, I lost the breast. You can read a conversation between me and fellow author Anne Laughlin about our breast cancer diagnoses.

I was lucky. I was stage 0. The 6 or so lymph nodes the surgeon took had no evidence of cancer, and the margins (where my breast attached to my body) were clear. As a result, I didn’t need chemo or radiation. But I do carry a war wound across my left pectoral — a long, horizontal scar that slashed a new chronology into my life: before cancer, and after.

So I’m still a little raw, literally and figuratively. I’m still trying to figure out what this means, or whether it means anything at all beyond a healing wound on my chest and the prosthesis I wear during the day. I’m slowly getting used to the new topography of my physical self, slowly working on reconciling the before cancer days with the after cancer days, and savoring the many pieces of each day that before I might have missed.

And I’m looking forward to this walk, because for me, it’s become a metaphor: Taking steps. Steps toward something, like healing or some other personal goal, or taking steps for someone else who, for whatever reason, can’t.

Like the women and men who are battling this disease right now. I’m going to walk for them. And I’ve met survivors — a lot more since my own diagnosis, so I’ll walk for them, as well. I’ve also known women whose journeys came to an end because of breast cancer. I’ll walk for them, too, and for the friends and families of us all.

And I’m going to walk for myself, because I need the sense of moving beyond my diagnosis and my surgery, beyond the fear and the doubt and the anxiety and the long days spent waiting for test results, waiting on doctors, waiting on the phone, waiting for the next medical assessment.

Waiting isn’t moving.

Walking is.

So I’ll walk. For me, for you, for all of us, for all of them.

I’ll walk because I can, because I wake up every day now, and know that I can. And that is a precious, precious thing.

Happy Friday, all. Take care of yourselves and each other.

12 thoughts on “Breast Regards

  1. You are such an inspiration and the reason I walk, too. I never had a personal connection to anyone with Breast cancer.. but I have always participated in supporting the fundraising events because I know it affects so many women. I’m glad you are okay, and this just means you’re a stronger woman and can inspire more and more people through your story. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Andi, your story touched me on many levels. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the minutae of the small crap in my life.

    And then I read something like this and I know that none of it matters in the least.

    It’s journey’s like yours that give me hope – and make me glad to be a part of the human race.

    While you walk for you, me and everyone else – please know that I will be there in spirit with you, taking each step towards courage, love and compassion for the survivors and for the warrior’s who have gone before us.

  3. Great post, Andi and thanks for the emphasis on mammograms. I have really appreciated your willingness to share your story with all of us. It has been moving and thought-provoking. Thanks!

  4. Thanks, Andi! Great post and thanks for the emphasis on mammograms. So important for all of us. I have so appreciated your willingness to share your story with all that you have been through. It has been moving and important. So, thanks!

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