Yesterday I spent the morning volunteering for Komen Puget Sound at the Chehalis Tribe Health Fair. Since it was close to my house, I thought this would be a good way to help out and let the folks know in our community about support Komen can provide. It was a great turnout. The health fair offered free mammograms and had all other sorts of health related information – of course I’m focused on the breast health. I met so many great people. There were several survivors who came up and looked at our table and it was great to hear their story of survival.
I also met a woman who told me about the growing lump in her breast. She had it biopsied before and the results were negative for any signs of cancer but now she is concerned about the fact that it’s growing and is giving her pain. I told her that she should get it checked again and to understand her risks. I didn’t want to scare her but wanted her to know that she has support either way.
I can’t say her story didn’t affect me. In some ways it breaks my heart. It reminds me of my experience – everything pointed to it not being cancer but it was. It changed my life. I think of cancer every day. I’m reminded in the morning of what it did to me as I look in the mirror. From other people’s perspective I don’t look like a survivor – I’m young (relatively), my hair is growing longer each day, and no one can tell that I don’t have nipples. Heck you probably didn’t think about that. Let’s just say it works to my benefit when the wind blows or it’s a little chilly outside.
I’ll be honest in that being a survivor is hard. I wonder if there will ever be a day that I’m not reminded of my experience. In the meantime I will continue to support the organizations focused on preventing this horrible disease.