A month of memories during October


In October 2012, I celebrated my 26th year of survivorship, and I wanted to look back at the first 25 years of survivorship to see how I had changed and how breast cancer had changed. It was an exercise in surprises. On the one hand I was surprised at how quickly those feelings and faces came back to me. On the other hand, I was surprised by my ability to look at some from a new perspective because of what we know now that we didn't know then. Overall, my goal of 26 was ambitious. I couldn't do it, but I tried. And in those moments found some lovely memories of friends long gone and those still with us...............26 Years and counting

Oct. 1Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been 26 years – there are days when it feels like yesterday. Since I have stayed involved in cancer since my diagnosis (some call it cancer as a career move), there are many moments that take me back to my own experience as I relive those weeks when my life would become a before and after. You know what I mean. The dates you use to measure where you were or what you were doing when you are trying to remember something...............1986 – It's cancer

Oct. 2I had a strange, painful itching in my right breast in the upper, outer (breast cancer talk) quadrant, and I am so grateful for that very unusual symptom because it's the reason I found the lump in my breast at age 37...............1987 – Chemo, hair, insurance and going on

Oct. 3It almost seems absurd to tell you that chemotherapy was terrible. But I have come to find out that it isn't for many people. Particularly today with the great drugs that keep nausea and vomiting under control. It's not unusual for cancer patients to have chemo and take a day off and then go back to work...............1987 too – Fear of recurrence, check-ups and doctors

Oct. 4The last chemotherapy treatment should be a time of relief and joy, but when I think about that year now, I only remember fear. My last chemo was in late February, meaning my first check-up should have been in May...............1998 – Reconstruction or shopping for a new boob

Oct. 8I wasn't reconstructed at the time of my mastectomy for a number of reasons. First, immediate reconstruction wasn't done as often 26 years ago as it is now, and I was supposed to have a lumpectomy, but when my surgeon couldn't get clear margins it turned into a mastectomy. So there had been no discussion of reconstruction before surgery...............1989 – Help me I am drowning

Oct. 9In 1989 I think I had a break down. I look back on it now and realize I had to give up being an inspiration to get crazy that year. Let me explain...............1990 – A brighter world through tears

Oct. 10I didn't cry much the first two years. All my energy went into intellectualizing why I would live. Maybe I was so full of rationalizing why I would live and hanging on to my "self" that there was no room for tears – or the feelings that would bring them...............1991 -- Mother, daughter, author, angry woman

Oct. 11What is the old saying? "If you want God to laugh, make plans." In 1991 I was ready to put breast cancer behind me. I had been reconstructed and looked like all the other moms. My group had become a safe haven for expressing my deepest fears, and I had grown to love the women I came to know so well...............1991 too – This can't be happening

Oct. 12Not only was my mother diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, so was my best friend, who was also my daughter's Godmother. So by the end of 1991 my daughter's mother, grandmother and Godmother all had breast cancer...............1992 – Too young to have breast cancer

Oct. 15In 1992, my life was a whirlwind of fundraisers for the Bridge, grading papers at SMU and raising Kirtley. One day a student came by my office and asked if I would talk to her sorority about breast cancer. I said sure, and dug out my "young women and breast cancer speech."..............1993 – Birth of a book, motherhood, panic

Oct. 16My book, The Breast Cancer Companion, was published in 1993, and even though I referred to it as my second child, it did not compare to motherhood. I had wanted a second child but breast cancer took that option away from me, so I settled for turning my time and attention to writing a book...............1994 – Finding Utopia

Oct. 17I get a great new age kind of magazine that often asks its readers to write about topics. This month's comment page asked readers to identify their idea of Utopia, that fantasy island created by author Thomas Moore where we all live in peace in harmony. Today, Utopia has come to mean perfection...............October and a common scar

Oct. 26In the past few years October has become a flash point about the differences that have arisen in the breast cancer advocacy arena...............Everyone know how to cure cancer – not

Oct. 31At about 15 years as a survivor there were a few truths I had finally learned. About six or seven years out I felt I had my head on straight enough that I began calling newly diagnosed women when someone asked me to help. I was full of advice and usually put my foot in my mouth until I learned to listen. As a result, I made a lot of women cry when I gave them the information they weren't ready for...............2006 – 20 Years

Nov. 5"Please let me live long enough that she will remember me." Then it went from there to –"Please let me live long enough for me to see her start school."To "Please let me live long enough to see her start high school."To "Please let me live long enough to see her start college.To "Please let me live long enough to see her turn 21."And I made it. This was a celebration year.

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