Beginning on the first day of October, pink has been the ‘color of the month’ as individuals, families, schools and businesses have made note of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In one form or another, each of us has been affected by breast cancer. There are few of us who can say that they’ve never known anyone who has been afflicted which, if not caught early, can cause death.
If you live long enough, someone near and dear to you will face the fight of their lives to not let cancer win.
Just weeks ago I learned of a friend’s daughter who has been diagnosed with Stage Four breast cancer. Lynell and I were walking to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln when we saw her parents.
It had been years since our paths had crossed. Life has treated them well, but I know they would trade everything for daughter Alison to be cancer free.
Their daughter played volleyball at Grant during the 1990s. She was a back row specialist, She wasn’t a superstar, but she was an athlete and she played hard every time she stepped on the floor.
College took her to California and that’s where she established a successful life.
Then, cancer introduced itself into her existence. Like others who have developed breast cancer, they’ve experienced every emotion known to mankind. Treatment and remission, good days and bad days and more of the same.
She recently penned the following words which tell her cancer story. It’s altogether appropriate to share these words now as a means to help others have a better understanding of what breast cancer patients endure in their lives…
I no longer enter a room alone.
I’m no longer just me.
Once someone knows, cancer follows me into every space I enter.
To some I’m an inspiration.
To some I’m a tragedy.
To some I’m hope.
To some I’m a question… why is she still here and my loved one isn’t.
To some I’m a cautionary tale.
To some I’m their worst fear personified.
But never just me.
I’m aware of what I carry with me into each space.
Not hindered by it or bogged down by it, but I constantly sense it.
There are ways in which cancer has limited me. Taken things I cannot get back.
But there are also ways in which cancer has made me brave.
It has allowed me to outgrow the limits I put on myself.
It has allowed me to become bigger than I actually am… or maybe exactly as big as I actually am.
It has taught me to hold things loosely. To let go more readily.
It has urged me to judge less, forgive more quickly, apologize more frequently.
It has deepened my faith. It has multiplied my love.
Even with no evidence of disease, I carry the story of cancer with me. The bad and the good.
And although I’m never just me anymore, I also never carry it alone.