I couldn’t wait for November. Once the calendar page turned, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was officially over. As if I need a special month to remind me. As if I don’t think about this disease every month of the year.
I’m among the 2.5 million women who have been treated for breast cancer. I was diagnosed in September 2011, and had surgery that October. Then I had radiation. I’m doing very well, but it has been a challenging bend in the road.
In the months following surgery, I got back to my books and bridge and work, I renewed my on-again, off-again relationship with the treadmill and began to believe that I might actually live long enough to become even more crotchety. But I also realized that there was a new filter in my brain. I would never need a special month to make me aware of breast cancer.
This is not to say that I object to October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Not at all. We need to remind women to make and keep their appointments for mammograms and sonograms. We need money to support research into more effective treatments and, eventually, a cure. We need money to help women who can’t afford treatment.
Donations also provide assistance and support for breast cancer patients who don’t have family or friends to help them through. It may be weird that there is such an entity as Breast Cancer Social Media, where women tweet and blog and vent, but if it helps someone, somewhere, I say, tweet away.
I started a blog last year during my own treatment. It made me feel connected when everything about the disease was making me feel isolated. You do what you need to do to get through it all.
My issue with Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just that it feels personal now. I’m just saying, it’s not all “those” stories. It’s my story, too.
It seems obvious, but it needs to be said that we women who live through breast cancer are all different. We survive our diagnosis and treatment differently, and we move into the future with footsteps as unique as fingerprints.