It's October again, meaning it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It doesn't seem as though I'm doing much to honor this month, except last week I got a CT scan of my chest to see if I had cancer in my lungs. If you've been following my story, you'll remember that in 2016, I developed an angiosarcoma on my right breast where I had been given radiation treatment four years before for my first cancer. This year, I asked my oncologist where the cancer would come back if it metastasized. She said it could return in my lungs, and if it did, "You'll develop a bad cough."
Well, last week, I had the cough. At midnight one night, I couldn't stop coughing; maybe the cancer was in my lungs, I worried.
"Take a deep breath; let it out. Take a breath and hold." I was in the CT scanner. (How many times had I been in the CT scanner?)
If this wasn't honoring breast cancer month, I didn't know what would be; in fact, I was a slave to breast cancer month, and to breast cancer.
Last year had been so different. At this time in 2018, I was preparing to give a speech about my cancer journey at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The speech was entitled "It Takes a Village," and was a tribute to all of the people who had helped me get through this painful disease. I was also on the board of The Breast Cancer Innovation Foundation and we were preparing to host a benefit to raise money to fight cancer. Last year, it seemed as though cancer was far behind me, and I was out in the community to try to combat it and raise awareness about it.
This year, last week, it was yet again, another cancer scare.
What am I if I'm not proactive about checking to see if the hideous monster has returned?
The night I had my CT scan, I called my oncologist and woke her up. It was just after midnight. She told me to let the ER check me out. I swear, I could hear terror in her voice. That's the sign of a great cancer doctor.
There was no cancer.
I am aware of cancer every month. But for those folks who have never dealt with the disease personally, I think having a month dedicated to contemplating it is a good idea.
What am I doing when I'm not worrying about cancer? Raising my son, taking care of my husband, cooking, cleaning, working a job, seeing friends. Just like everyone else. But this added piece, this added worry, puts quite a strain on my life. And just when I think I can stop worrying about cancer, boom. Something happens like a bad cough to put me right back into the "slave" position. Yes, I am always "honoring" breast cancer awareness month.
"But it's all right; it's all right; we can't be forever blessed," sings Paul Simon in "American Tune." I guess that's how I think about my life. I can't be forever blessed. As long as I have a good doctor who truly cares about me and who answers my calls after midnight, I am blessed enough.