This time 2 years ago, I was on a beach with my family. We took a random weekend vacation to enjoy the end of Texas summer. It was a great trip and of course we took tons of pictures. I had no idea at the time, that trip would be my last trip feeling like a normal person. Though I have a favorite picture from that trip, I have a love hate relationship with it. It is one of the hardest photos for me to look at. It is a reminder to me of who I once was. It is a reminder to me of a time when happiness was a simple luxury. It is a reminder to me of a time when I was in great shape and training for my very first 5K. When I took those photos, I had no idea what was right around the corner.
There is only one reason why I appreciate this month and it is because it is meant to bring awareness to the very thing that tried to kill me, breast cancer. It is a reminder to many women to get their mammograms and if you talk to most doctors, they will tell you October is one of the most diagnosed months of the year. That part of it is great. For that reason, I appreciate this month. I, personally, found my lump on a total fluke in October. I was not searching for a lump because it was breast cancer awareness month. It just happened that way.
October 27, I found my lump and this brings me to the title of this blog. October to me is a reminder of the pure hell that I was about to endure. I see breast cancer everywhere I turn. PINK PINK PINK. I actually used to really like the color pink. I don't necessarily hate it now but what I hate is that pink is actually a pretty color - and breast cancer is the ugliest most horrible thing there is. Aside from talking about colors...lets not forget about the cheerleaders prancing around wearing those cute little pink outfits with their "TATA'S" hanging out to supposedly bring awareness to breast cancer. What exactly about your perfect boobs, perfect long hair, and perfect body brings awareness to such a disease? Because here is the reality of breast cancer....
At 33, I shaved my head bald and 2 years later still only have neck length hair - not long beautiful locks. I had my breasts removed. I have no nipples. I have a 3 inch scar that runs across each breast. I have back pain from the surgery. I can't do push ups anymore without looking like frankenstein, not to mention it is probably the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. I can't feel a damn thing anywhere in my chest. In fact, I can't even feel my armpits anymore. I have somehow found humor in the fact that I can't feel my armpit hair growing anymore. I have scar tissue build up, which can be very painful. I have ripples around my implants because essentially - I have an implant and skin and nothing else. I fear cancer every day of my life. While I have really come to terms with this new body of mine - it is definitely not one I planned on having EVER in my life. I would have been thankful for my 60 year old possibly saggy boobs. A mastectomy is NOT a boob job. If I wanted a boob job, I would have paid the $6K to get one...not the $75,000 it cost me to have my boobs, my lymph nodes, and muscles cut and hacked through. Do not get me wrong, my plastic surgeon did an incredible job with putting me back together...but it was not something I ever wanted.
I am writing this blog because this is a real issue. Most of you have never seen a picture of what a women looks like after a mastectomy and while I do not have it in me to post photos of mine...there are women who are more than willing to share that with the world. So when you see those cute little cheerleaders dancing all over the place wearing their cute little pink knee high socks...remember what its really about and what the majority of us really had to go through.
This month I will participate in several events that I feel are most important to me. I will be participating in a fashion show put on by Fabooblicious. Last year, this was by far my favorite event to participate in. There is no other energy that compares to the energy, love and positivity, that you are surrounded by when your in a room full of cancer survivors. To put it simply...it is UNREAL and I am honored to be a part of it again this year.
This weekend I have chosen to participate in the Dallas Cowboys half time show to honor breast cancer survivors, the fighters, and the angels who watch over us. I have chosen to participate because it is an amazing opportunity to bring awareness and to show the world that the face of breast cancer is no longer 50 and up. Its 15 and up. The age of diagnosis is getting younger and younger. I hope instead of feasting your eye on those beautiful cheerleaders, that you will really focus on the women this has affected. Their families, their friends, and us. Notice the tears you might see in our eyes while we remember the struggles we went through and still might be going through. Notice that despite what we have been through, or the hair that we no longer have, or the boobs that might no longer be there....that we still have the ability to put a smile on our face and simply appreciate the gift of another day.
While I love to be a part of these events that bring awareness to breast cancer...there is one particular event that brings so much happiness to my heart and that is BRA day. BRA day is breast reconstruction awareness day. What I love so much about this event is that it gives women the opportunity to physically see the different options they have with regards to their reconstruction. If you know me well, you know I have a huge heart. Helping other women, is honestly, what has really kept me going. When I am given that opportunity...there is no better honor than that. For this event I will model my type of surgery for PRMA (my plastic surgeon). While it can be a very vulnerable time...I know it is helping other women to not feel so incredibly scared about what lies ahead and that there is hope for feeling physically normal after their surgery.
And last but not least is the 5K we are putting together for Pink Warrior Angels (our non-profit). It is our first of many, and I am so excited for where PWA is going and how quickly we are growing. The best part about Pink Warrior Angels...is that it truly does bring everything together for me. Everything I have ever wanted to do. It gives other women the opportunity to do those things as well. Pink Warrior Angels opens up the door for women to help other women, for us to all support one another through our own struggles and I can promise you one day...no one who is diagnosed with breast cancer will ever have to fight alone. It is just not acceptable and I am so proud to partner with Julie on this amazing journey. Big things are coming for us and it is so special and dear to my heart.
October is not about perfect boobs and pink ribbons. It is about encouraging your mother, your sister, your daughter, or your wife to get a mammogram, to be proactive in their health, and to get a second opinion when needed. It is a time to remember that this disease is a very REAL issue. Sadly we are all beginning to know someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer. I hope by reading this blog, you might know how to support them a little better. I hope you will encourage them to reach out for support. Remission has an after life...and its not an easy one. I feel very fortunate that, for some of you, I can put a real face to what breast cancer actually is. While I hate the fact that it was a part of my life...I feel blessed in the many opportunities that I have been given to bring awareness and comfort others.