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.

Cancer doesn’t care.

Hi, all.

I wanted to take this time to say a few things about something that’s been weighing on my mind. As a writer, I tend to express myself in that medium, about a great many things. Here, I have something to say about a topic that is particularly relevant (it’s been all over the news) in general, but also to me personally.

Breast cancer sucks. I say that as someone who has known women (and one man) who has battled it, as someone who knew someone who lost her battle with it, and as someone who is currently personally affected by it. That said, I’m fortunate. Mine was caught early. It was non-invasive and stage 0.

So I know what organizations and foundations can do to help people who battle cancer. I’m also incredibly fortunate because I have health insurance, and in America, which is supposedly one of the greatest nations in the world, a third of the people in our country cannot afford health insurance. So they have to rely on organizations and foundations to provide low-cost healthcare and screenings, in hopes that diseases like cancer are caught early and can be treated before they’ve progressed.

But there’s a more important message here.

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