This October I’m celebrating the second anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. Just to be clear, it’s not the disease I’m celebrating, but the fact that I’m still here two years later.
October is a big month for me. It’s the month I discovered a lump in my breast and the month in which I learned what that lump meant. It’s the month I celebrate my birthday, and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
From finding that lump in my breast to hearing about triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) for the first time, to treatment to recovery and to every emotion known to womankind, these two years have passed at both a snail’s pace and at lightening speed, if you can wrap your head around that. That’s what happens when you’re fighting for your life.
Days of research and illness and fighting the temptation to give in to fatigue seem to blur together as if in a dream. Only by going back and reading the journal I kept at the time am I able to recall the finer details of those bittersweet days. Life goes on.
I no longer think about cancer every day, at least not my own cancer. I think about others who are still in the thick of things. I think about other women facing the diagnosis of breast cancer and TNBC in particular. I think of all the women who, like me, had never heard about TNBC until they were diagnosed.
Another anniversary, another birthday, another Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Another chance to remind women about the importance of being familiar with your own body. The good news is that most breast lumps are benign. Of those that are not, advances in treatment mean more of us go on to celebrate more birthdays.
I hate it when people reduce breast cancer to talking about boobs, boobies, and tatas. I’m sick of pink ribbons and pink bras and pink consumerism. Just as with other forms of cancer, breast cancer is about life and death.
Instead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I think of it more as Birthday Awareness Month. I’m celebrating by making the most of what life has to offer, trying not to focus on the negative and savoring the positive. Thank you to all the people — doctors, nurses, readers, acquaintances, friends, and family — for your part in helping me to put another candle on my birthday cake. It is a happy birthday, indeed.
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