Tuesday, December 31, 2013

All Too Aware.

"There is a lump in your left breast," informed Dr. W as she did my exam. "We need to schedule an ultrasound to see it."

"OK," I replied.

"Do you take alot of caffeine," asked the doctor. "Chocolate? Chocolate girl!"

Later that week, I confided in my then-new-fiance/now-husband. "They found a lump in my breast. I have to go get an ultrasound."

"Ok. We'll see how it goes.I'm here for you."

"Thank you."

Time dragged on over the next several days as I informed my mom of what was going on and then finally had the test. The wait seemed to drag and drag until I was finally called back, took my bra off and put on the standard-issue muumuu gown for the test. Since it was a breast that was being scanned, I was able to use a pillow to lay back on. I watched as the tech ran the wand through the cold gel puddle on my breast. I strained to see the black-and-white clipped-triangle screen and make heads or tails of all of the black and white lines on the screen to no avail.

"What do you see," I asked the tech in earnest. "How big is it? Pea-sized?"

"Yeah, probably pea-sized," she replied as she kept scanning.

And more scanning, scanning and more scanning, for what felt like an eternity. Finally I was free to go, hoping that would be the end of it.

Unfortunately, I received the dreaded callback the next evening. The doctor was talking, but all I heard was "solid nodule... biopsy..." I began crying right there in the car (my fiance was driving) and didn't stop for quite some time. God Bless my husband, I even screamed while freaked out and crying; he had told me everything was going to be ok. My comeback? "Not if I have CANCER!" Yes, that dreaded C-word had crossed my mind and taken up residence at the forefront. cancer?? can't do that... hell no... wedding in sept... what to do? how many opinions to get? surgery? drugs? what next? "It'll be a fine-needle biopsy" "Please please please get me in SOON!"

They say ignorance is bliss. Perhaps it would have been in this case. But unfortunately, one could probably say I knew know too much about some things. For me, this would have been one of them. I was officially TOO aware.

I'm going to be blunt here; I don't get it. I may as well just admit this is a rant.

Don't get me wrong here, I understand wanting to be aware of a disease that can, and does, sneak up on you and can kill you. But there are a whole lot of other diseases that can do that. A whole month (and then some) of having this "awareness" shoved down my throat? No, thanks. Does Diabetes awareness month get this much attention (ever heard of a 3-day for diabetes)? Heart awareness month get this much attention? Not that I've seen.

"Save the tatas." Really? Do you have to shout such a juvenile and asinine slogan? Save my life, please! Even if it does ultimately mean cutting the girls off and laying them to rest. They've done awesome feeding my daughters, but that's the thing- I have them to think about. And a husband. And in-laws (I get along with!),among many others. Don't get me wrong, I have followed many a survivor's story, and it's not that simple- in many cases I've seen mastectomy AND chemo needed. But that's the trouble- such a simplistic slogan makes it sound so, and definitely minimizes the disease's impact it can have.

And what about the sophomoric games that have been played, while supposedly in the name of awareness, but really have absolutely nothing to do with cancer, but are demeaning to women. Telling the Facebook world what color my bra is is not going to magically end any cancer, let alone breast cancer. List your status as "pink" and I am liable to think you are talking about the musician. Black? uhhh... new pair of shoes? Show me a picture, please!

The pink merchandise. Wow, that's a whole other ballgame. I love the color pink. In fact, it was one of my wedding colors. However, the whole breast-cancer awareness thing has, well, put a damper on it for me. I feel hard-pressed to find a pink toy or appliance that doesn't have that cutesy pink ribbon on it. Sure, I'd love to buy that pink stand mixer or pink knickknack for my girls, but sorry, but I don't want to think about breast cancer every time I bake. Or play with said knickknack with my girls. I know you can't really say how you'd act in a situation until it happens to you, but I know I'd be a bit annoyed to receive pink boxing gloves as a recovery gift from a breast cancer treatment. Seriously. I don't intend to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything here, but I'm sure I'd need a punching bag to go with a set of regular, red boxing gloves. Wouldn't want my girls to see me freak out.

Seriously. This is overkill. Yes, cancer is a horrible disease, but so is Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), stroke, AIDS and HIV. Diabetes and sleep apnea suck, too. Where's their 3-day, 60-mile walk and cause-colored merchandise? This is not to minimize breast cancer. I know that, unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people have died from it over the decades. Yes, people (NOT just women!). Trouble is that other forms of cancer exist and kill people: brain cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, heart disease (especially of the congenital variety) and a myriad of other diseases. Why does breast cancer trump all of these by getting a month of its own? Some of these other diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, have their own months, but how much do we hear about it, save for social media? How come it seems to trump social issues like...bullying?

I felt blessed to find out the day after my biopsy that the lump was benign. A fibroadenoma, with some glandular tissue mixed in (which was confirmed in my lactating days). Yes, I still have it, but I keep a tab on it. While it was a huge relief to not have cancer, I thought about all the folks who aren't so lucky, and I still do. I feel for them, many having to put their lives on the line by way of surgery and/or dangerous chemotherapy that could very well end their lives.

Stop giving breast cancer awareness a bad name!


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