It's funny, by the time we are diagnosed and enter treatment we arrive to the party with all the baggage we've accumulated throughout our life. Some of us are very private and prefer to keep the details of our diagnosis to ourselves. Others are really outgoing and we have no problem sharing and sharing and sharing. There are many of us that rally others and create online support platforms with the same energy and excitement which had once been focused on coaching their kids sports teams, organizing office parties, and coordinating community fundraisers and others advocate quietly from behind the scenes. As we enter the depths of hell ... er, um, chemo, some of us will be devastated by the hair loss, others not so much, some even find it freeing. Some of us find the loss of our breast(s) soul-crushing and others are flat and fierce.
We. Redefine. Beauty.
The weight gain many of us experience once in chemical menopause or on an aromatase inhibitor can make us incredibly self-conscious while some embrace the curves from cancer. We become curious about genetic markers, new treatment protocols, and research science. We become experts in our own specific disease and often we feel as if we know more than our medical team ... sometimes we are correct. We suffer from PTSD, scanxiety, and insomnia. We protect ourselves and our loved ones at all costs.
We. Will. Not. Go. Quietly.
For as many of us revel in being a part of the sisterhood of the pink ribbon just as many of us revile it and despise the month of October. There is no right or wrong way to 'do' cancer and there is no right or wrong way to be a cancer patient. We come from different backgrounds, economic standings, religions, ethnicities, political parties, and sexual orientations. Cancer never discriminates and in that same vein we in turn open our hearts and our minds to others like us and unlike us. We are not statistics.
You. Do. You.
We speak up and speak out, we educate those around us and we tolerate the ignorant knowing they wouldn't last a moment in our shoes - and genuinely pray they never have to either. We remove ourselves from negative influences and we lead by example. We understand tomorrow is never promised and we savor the present. Yes we have baggage but the baggage holds our dreams, our benevolence, and our fears. We unpack those bags in Cancertown as we would anywhere else, we flash our scars and our smiles and we hold on to hope.