So, yesterday was October 1st. The beginning of one of my favorite months of the year. Between the weather changing, the coziness of the fall season, Halloween movies, and just general spookiness, I have always loved October! However, the month of October is also special because it is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). I’ve always been a supporter of BCAM because of the loved ones in my life who have faced Breast Cancer… but this year, it’s a little more personal to me since I am now a BC “thriver” (not really sure how I feel about that term but I don’t deem myself a survivor just yet!)
Before I get started, I want to preface this blog post by saying I genuinely appreciate each and every person who takes the time to acknowledge BCAM and all of its survivors, thrivers, previvors, and co-survivors. There are few things better than human beings coming together for a good cause/reason/purpose/etc.
With that being said, I want you to know something…
Breast Cancer is MORE THAN PINK.
I’m pretty sure all of my survivors, thrivers and previvors out there can attest to this statement. Sure, the ribbons, the tutus, the socks, the shirts, the pins, the bits and the bobbles are all wonderful and great… but I feel as though it is my duty to inform all of you exactly what you should be aware of—because I would hope that we’re all very much aware of what Breast Cancer is by now.
Having Breast Cancer is a lot more than you might think. And for me, it’s A LOT more than what I expected to have to deal with in my twenties, let me tell you that. In my case, I had a taste of what BC was like before I was diagnosed because I watched my mother go through it. What I am going through now is something I never really anticipated for myself because before my own diagnosis, I had no idea what BC truly is.
Breast Cancer is going from this…
in a matter of months, involuntarily. It’s mustering up every ounce of courage you have inside of you because you know that everything that is to come is completely out of your control, and yet… you must deal with it.
Breast Cancer is going through chemotherapy. oOoOo SpOoKy! I know. Maybe I should just dress up as a bag of chemotherapy for Halloween and really scare the sh*t out of the kids. But really, chemo is not for the faint of heart. Both literally and figuratively. Yeah, chemo sucks and you lose your hair and stuff… but you should know that chemo doesn’t always mean hanging over your toilet throwing up your guts.
Actually, nowadays, vomiting is something that shouldn’t happen because your oncologist gives you medicine(s) to prevent that—Wow! Science! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen at all, but the stereotype of those undergoing chemo is not very accurate. We’re still pretty normal except the whole low white blood cell thing (which is the real problem).
This is me at chemo. This is me with the infamous chemo pole. This is me after I just peed and asked my fiancé to take my picture. This is me wearing my halo wig for the first time at chemo, feeling ~fancy~. This is me internally wishing he was taking my picture as a healthcare professional and not the patient. This is me wondering if I looked “sickly” and “like a cancer patient” while taking this photo. (News flash, Taylor, you ARE a cancer patient lol)
I want you to know what you’re advocating for. I want you to know what you’re supporting and why. I want you to be educated on a such a prevalent disease that can become a part of your life, either as the patient or as the co-survivor.
Yes, self-exams are so unbelievably important. That is how I found my cancer. I am not special in any way; I do not have magic cancer-detecting hands. You should be doing this every month. And let me stress this to you, ladies: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE 40+ TO GET BREAST CANCER OR PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT—again—YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE 40+ TO GET BREAST CANCER OR PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT!
If you find ANYTHING AT ALL that seems suspicious to YOU and YOUR body, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. I found my lump on Easter Sunday (April 1st) and I called my gynecologist on MONDAY MORNING. I was diagnosed on April 20th. That is 19 days later. DO NOT WAIT. Do not be “too afraid” of “knowing”—trust me, you’ll be much more afraid if you wait and then you’re diagnosed with late-stage BC and that’s just the truth.
With that said, Breast Cancer is also more than giant lumps in your breasts. For us young ladies especially, we have dense breast tissue. This means that a lot of the time, our cancerous lumps/masses are not detected on a traditional mammogram. You must advocate for a 3D mammogram—even if your doctor fights you on it. And an ultrasound. If you have a family history or just a straight up gut-feeling that something isn’t right, advocate for yourself. YOU are your ONLY advocate!
So, I hope you got my point. I could go on and on and on about the ins and outs of Breast Cancer and all of the different kinds, all of the different treatments, and blah blah blah… but in honor of BCAM, I challenge YOU to pick up your nifty pink highlighter and go to PubMed, find yourself some articles on BC research, print them out, and get to work. Know the facts. Know what BC is—beyond the pink ribbons.
Thank you all for your support and I hope you have an awesome October.