It's that time of year again...we're about to land on "Pinktober", but before that, we celebrate HBOC week and Previvor Day. There are always so many mixed emotions that I feel around this time. Part of me is proud to be amongst some of the strongest women I have EVER met...while the other part of me feels so gloomy. If you know me, you know I like to try and look at the positives in life. There are so many things to be positive and happy about.
However, this year just feels so different. This year, some of my closest Previvor friends have since become survivors. I know I can't speak for every Previvor, but deep down...we ALL fear cancer. We all go through hoops to avoid cancer. We meet geneticists, have MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, blood work, surgeries...all in hopes to avoid cancer. And, guess what....cancer doesn't give a shit. Yup...I said it. Cancer doesn't care. Cancer doesn't take pity. We live this life, as Previvors, we go through so much just to avoid something that, for a lot of us, is inevitable. Many of my friends will likely still have scares...some will be diagnosed...and unfortunately, we will lose friends/loved ones.
There is a fine line between being a hypochondriac and being a realist. Some of us will panic at the minimal bump (scar tissue...been there, freaked out) while others may push it off and pretend that after the surgeries and precautions, they are invincible. We are stuck. We are stuck in this spot....between feeling like we are free of getting cancer or wondering when it will strike (no matter what efforts we take to prevent it). We are in this gray area. And, the only time we are truly free of the unknown, is when that really bad, scary moment happens...that moment that cancer actually happens. I know, I know...you're probably thinking "good grief, Debbie Downer". However, this is MY life. This is a very real fear. I may not get breast cancer since I have no more breast tissue. I may not get ovarian cancer, since thats next on the surgery list as a Previvor....but, I can't remove my skin, or my lungs, kidneys, brain, etc.
I have an amazing friend....she went through every preventative measure...and STILL ended up with lung cancer. Cancer does not give a shit...and it especially doesn't care when you are genetically predisposed. So, what am I supposed to think during this week? It's that struggle to be happy and the realization that maybe I should be sad...I've lost people I care about...because cancer doesn't care. So, I live...and I respect the time and relationships that I have. As cliché as it sounds I thank God for another day. There are women before me that would've given anything for just one more day. So, I celebrate what I have. I celebrate these amazing women, who put on a brave face. I celebrate being a Previvor because of so many of the strong, dedicated women that I find myself amongst. If I can say anything, in this life, I have met some of the most incredible women. My heart has been touched by the grace, strength, love, and empowerment that I see in each and every Previvor/Survivor I speak to.
This week is about my friends. This week is about women in my world that are making a difference. I can celebrate that. I refuse to celebrate being "cancer free", because...cancer does not give a shit. I may be cancer free today, but tomorrow is always a mystery. So, I refuse to worry about staying ahead of cancer this week...because that just sounds dumb, in my opinion. "yay, look, I don't have cancer...yet" just doesn't even sound right, it kind of sounds braggy. HBOC week and Previvor day is all about acknowledging the struggles we all face...and taking a moment out to thank those women around me fighting like hell to make a difference.
To my closest friends (Survivors and Previvors)...my "tribe", you know I keep you in my heart every day. This year has been awful. You guys inspire me. You make me laugh. In the worst moments, you all still smile...and even though we are all hurting and we all know it sucks, we still stick together. I am a better woman because I have you guys. You're brilliant, beautiful, and a huge blessing in my life. I am so proud to call you my friends. Leanna, Laura, Shannon, Emily M, & Emily K....you girls are angels on earth.
I also feel the need to mention some other names...because you women have made such a huge difference in my life as well. Lisa...I am honored to know you. What you do for other women is so inspiring. Your vision for My Destiny is incredible. Please know that you and Kim make a difference, EVERY MINUTE of every day. My YP gals that care more about others than themselves, Stacy, Gosia, Lisa G, Andrea D, Emily C, Colleen, Shari, Melissa V, Cortney S, Lacey, Casey, Megan L, Jessie, Stephanie C, Kate W, Carly S, Trisha F, Angela A, Carmelita, Rachel S, Kimberly A, Jesslyn, Heni, Andrea H, Lisa C, Vikkie, Tathra, Shawntel, Nastassia, Tanya W, Gigi, Heidi, Jessica D, Sandy M, Heather E, Allison G, Holly M, Galia, Michelle L, Michelle B, Sandra P, Kionte, Klara, Michelle S, Deidre, Terri, and so many other friends that I have met along the way...this week is for you. Not for the cards we have been dealt, but for the way you have all touched my heart. You all have made a difference in my life, and undoubtedly in many other lives as well.