I still remember it too well. Why is that? When a doctor examines you, furrows his eyebrows and says in a worried tone “You have a growth in your right breast…” your heart sinks and the worrying begins. I always thought that I would be remarkably courageous if I ever heard those words, a sort of Joan of the Arc, never wavering, refusing to worry, positive and calm. But I wasn’t that at all. I sat inside a cramped area of the hospital for hours with four other women who were doing likewise. We might have gone home and returned on a less busy day, but for each of us we did not want to delay the answer to our question: Do I have breast cancer?
I didn’t feel brave at all, if truth be known, certainly no braver than the rest and probably less. For once my chattering mouth was silenced and I listened to the other women’s fears. Why are our breasts so important? Is the sentence of breast cancer worse, somehow, than another type of cancer?
While, in fact, our breasts do not define our worth we hear such frequent observations about breasts being sexy, and, therefore, important that we, in a vulnerable moment, tend to buy into all that nonsense. Breasts are not more important that arms, legs, voice, hearing, sight, brain or heart. Still, there we were: five women shaking in our shoes as we waited through a long, harrowing day till it was our turn to hear the words: “Just a cyst. You are fine.” Or not.
Finally, they called my name. I gathered myself, purse and white robe and trotted into the lab where they would do an aspiration (put a needle into my breast and remove some fluid for testing). I found the whole procedure rather interesting and felt grateful that I lived in a day and age that was advanced enough to have an answer back to me in minutes. The answer, for me at least, was good. I exhaled long and hard. Still, I was exhausted from the emotional roller coaster experience it had provided. I would like to say that I was brave and modeled that courage to the others but I cannot. I was scared to death and marveled, embarrassed, at what a wimp I really was and why. Are breasts more important than they should be? Only you can answer that.
Three hundred thousand women will receive a devastating diagnosis this year alone. They will face a myriad of decisions after that diagnosis. Their friends and families will all be affected by it, as well. They could use your support.
The Susan G. Koman Walk for a Cure offers three-day walk-athons for the cure of breast cancer. What a great way to remember it might have been me, to reassure my sisters who didn’t have the same result as I had that I am behind them and that I support their cause. The money raised by all participants contribute substantially to the financial costs of research to cure breast cancer. The event will challenge you and the training will make you healthier. These three-day events are held all over the country. Google it and you will find one in your area in the upcoming year. Now that is a new year’s resolution worth keeping.