Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me

Another night were I woke up with pain and am having a difficult time getting back to sleep. I hate that. When this happens I usually ponder different things in my mind.

I spoke to a woman who is in her 40's and went through BC. My oncologist made her call me to put my mind at ease about going through the chemotherapy. She said a lot of stuff that I had some issues with. Granted, everyone can feel however they like about cancer but I personally thought her views were unhealthy.

She mentioned working in an office setting (she's in the medical profession) where she wears a wig and none of the people who come into the office ever knew she was going through cancer treatment. Her hair is growing in now at 3" and she would like to stop wearing her wig but is afraid the patients there would then realize something was different and ask questions. She also said she didnt tell them because she didnt want their pity. As she is telling me this story I was thinking, so what if they ask you, I would hold my head high and tell them that I beat cancer! Its almost as if she was afraid of the word CANCER. She said she sailed through her treatments like nothing was wrong with her and she went about doing things as normal.

So, here comes my opinion on that. All well and good for her but I would have chosen to not be ashamed of saying to the patients that I have breast cancer and use it as a teaching tool for them. It would bring awareness to the disease and educate a lot of elderly who are misinformed about it. I noticed that people over the age of 80 hear the word CANCER and think its a death sentence when its not. She basically told me outright that she did not want anyone to know. Its just my opinion here folks but I dont think thats the way it should have been done. It was her choice but the way she chose to go about hiding it from people is what perpetuates the fears and misconceptions that exist about it in society today. Yes, I am proud to say, "I have Breast Cancer." I will not hide behind my wig and pretend to go about my normal life because normal is not the word I would chose to use to describe my life after my cancer diagnosis. My life is not not normal but its not abnormal either. I have to say that its fuller in many ways because of all the wonderful people that cancer had brought into my life that I probably would never have known or gotten to know if I didnt have it. Compassionate, caring individuals who have shared with me their personal stories and/or stories of their family members who have conquered the disease. Here is where cancer gets a bad reputation as being the worse thing that has ever happened to someone. When I look back at the day I received the phone call about having cancer I can say that it was the scarriest day of my life and I was never more uncertain of my future like I was after I got off the phone with my Dr. Now I can honestly say that cancer is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I was headed down the wrong road and I was asking God to help me change the way I had been acting towards my family and my children. I think there is a reason for everything that happens to us in life whether it be a lesson learned or to put us on a different road to another destination in life. It has made me look at what REALLY matters in life and whats just petty crap that people whine about. I look at people in stores on line waiting to pay for something and all they can do is bitch and moan because they have to wait an extra minute because an elderly lady is looking for some change in her purse and all I want to say to them is SHUT UP and stop whining about NOTHING. It annoys the crap out of me and reminds me of another very strong woman whom I worked with when I was a nurse in a rehab facility in NY.

After 9/11, I had the privilage of working with 2 burn victims from that horrible day. She was my patient that day and her strength is what makes me go on every day. She had 85% of her body burned and was given last rights at the WTC because they thought she was dead. Well, she wasnt, she lived and is a miracle. She told me her story and maybe someday I'll tell it here but one thing she did stands out on my mind. I had 10 patients that day and by far she had the most to complain about if she chose to do so, but she didnt. She was also in a lot of pain and only asked me once for pain medicine and didnt want me to help her with certain things. She just wanted me to set her up with her specially made utensils for eating and so on. This lady was a true example of strength and courage. The burns compromised 85% of her body and greatly disfigured her but she never complained about any of it. I am sure she suffered privately but the public face she wore was truely inspiring and I will never forget it. When I think I have something to bitch about I think about her and all she has to endure everyday just to get out of bed.

In summary, I am proud to say that I have breast cancer and I will be a survivor to live to tell my tale. I have no shame or guilt about it either. When I tell people that I have cancer I am not doing so to get them to pity me in any way and I think that using that excuse to not talk about cancer is a cop-out. I am sure I will get more questions from people I know and strangers when I start to lose my hair and look a little different due to treatment. I have nothing to hide and when people ask I will hold my head high and exclaim proudly that I have cancer. I will never be ashamed of it or fear saying it for it has changed my life in more ways than I could have possible imagined and mostly for the better.

1 comment:

Hue said...

Hi, CurlyBrunette. I came here from LHC (where I am Hue) once I realized why there was a plethora of pink ribbons this Spring.

I am ashamed to say this, because I surely know better, but I wanted you to know that you inspired me to get back on track with my monthly self-exams. Both my mother and sister have had breast cancer, and sometimes it just is easier (so much easier!) not to deal with it.

I'll deal with it. I'll put up a ribbon in my signature, too, and let it be a reminder of both you and me, to me.

Thanks, sweetheart.