I know you're at a cookout, but October isn't the only month people are diagnosed with breast cancer. Give me five minutes and I'll give you a few tools to take you to superhero status.
My name is Allison and just over five years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3a breast cancer. Since then I've learned a thing or two, the biggest being that the experience evolves, but it doesn't end. Sometimes it's front and center, sometimes it's like a surreal experience that I have to remind myself is actually a reality, and more often than anything, it's simply a part of the new me. I'm ok with it. It's where I'm at, but what I do find to be a bit of a hornets nest is where other people are with it, with all due respect. So what's a girl to do? Well, if that girl is me, the answer is, just spit it out.
Twelve Things You Should Really Make Yourself Aware of in October and Every Month On The Calendar
Cancer can be totally overwhelming. Managing actions and reactions is often a clunky process. That's understandable. Below are my top twelve thoughts on what the general population might benefit from being aware of.
1. The only thing pink about breast cancer is the color of your skin when the incisions are healing, injection sites are irritated and the sunburn-like effect radiation has on your skin.
2. Breast cancer is not just a month; it is daily life for 1 in 8 women, their friends, families, colleagues and medical teams.
3. Making a donation to your favorite pink ribbon organization in the name of a breast cancer fighter in your life, although filled with good intent, may not be doing much to actually help that person. It could be helping research, it's definitely helping you with how you feel, it's not wrong, but what is it doing in that moment for the women who has the tumor growing inside of her? Consider the donation something that you have done for you and for the future, then get to the moment you're standing in and take a step closer. Find out what the breast cancer fighter in your life really needs and act on it.
4. What you don't do in support of the breast cancer fighter in your life is just as powerful as what you do do. Don't think a lack of action goes unnoticed. It hurts more than I can put into words. If you don't know what to do, just show up. The answer will present itself.
5. Listen. Listen. Listen and Hear the breast cancer fighter in your life. Self-check and make sure you make their cancer battle about them and not about you, especially when you are with them.
6. Breast cancer takes a financial toll on everyone, regardless of their income, marital status or motherhood status.
7. The majority of breast cancer materials, outreach and operations assumes that a partner or a family member is available full time to help. There are many working, single women battling breast cancer on their own physically, emotionally and financially.
8. Women fighting cancer who work independently, freelance or seasonal may and probably do have trouble getting disability, even if they have been paying into to it. Most disability is not based on how much total you have paid into the system, but how much you have earned in the elusive, "qualifying quarters."
9. Reaching out for help can be hard and humiliating, adding to a breast cancer fighter's already stressful diagnosis. Offering and taking action to taking care of specific tasks for them is more helpful than you can imagine.
10. There is a difference between surviving cancer and surviving cancer treatment. Just because someone's hair has grown back does not mean it's over.
11. Just because someone has breast cancer doesn't mean that's all they want to talk about. Breast Cancer is a part of a woman once she is diagnosed; the rest of her passion, hopes, desires and dreams are still there.
12. Breast Cancer is not the only cancer out there, it's just got the best media and marketing platform.
Battling cancer is about balance. Like anything else, there is the good, the bad, the ugly and the extraordinary. It can turn you into a superhero or have you slumped down on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Cancer is made up of physical and emotional feelings that span across a wide spectrum. What Cancer does not have is room for bullshit. For me, that's what this article is about. We've got to remove the bullshit so we can get the real shit done - together. It sucks and it's hard and oh yes it's so much easier to make a financial donation and not get involved. I know, and I have a pre-cancer diagnosis pink hair dryer to prove it. I promise, if you do both you will feel better and you will be a great part of a much-needed change. Fighting Cancer is a team sport. We need you.