This shirt was worn by a friend on the Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer this year but I keep reading the phrase over and over again.
A two-time breast cancer survivor myself (1989 and 1997, two separate cancers in different breasts), enough time has passed that I don’t find those experiences consciously on my mind anymore on a daily basis. Unless it is test time again, which it is: bloodwork and mammogram are scheduled this month. Now I wake up from dreams about the cancer returning—cancel, cancel, as my late 12-step sponsor would say. I can control my thoughts but I can’t control my dreams.
To my surprise, I’ve been brought up short three times in the past weeks where the memories of my own treatments bombarded me. And I was one of the lucky ones with stage I cancers and I had surgery, radiation, and long time treatment first with tamoxifen and later with Femara. To say I am grateful would be the understatement of the year.
The first memory trigger was when my son-in-law gave me a self-published poetry book called “Sometimes You Dance the Monster” by Beatrice Smart who passed away in May. It is a collection of poems she wrote during her eight-year fight. If you click on the link above, the short book is downloadable in PDF. I have read and own many, many books about cancer and rarely have I been this jolted. Next came a DVD I saw when I was at my sister’s house in Washington last month called "Living Proof" which is a biopic of oncologist and researcher Dr. Dennis Slamon, the UCLA doctor who helped develop the breast cancer drug Herceptin, and his effort to keep the drug trials afloat. His inspiring journey shows the sacrifices he makes in his personal life and the obstacles that he faces to get the drug approved. Thousands of lives have been saved because of his dedication. (The film was based on Robert Bazell’s book “Her-2.”)
Because my own first treatment was at UCLA, some of the rooms in the movie were familiar to me and I have not been able to get the film out of my mind. I highly recommend it, by the way.
Last night, while looking for images for my art journal, I ran across a book I had not looked at in a long time--Art.Rage.Us: Art and Writing by Women With Breast Cancer published by Chronicle Books. The photos, art and essays are wonderful, but I just kept thinking, "There but for the grace of God, go I."
The saying on the shirt above reminds me that love of myself and others is letting go of fear, which is from A Course in Miracles. The photo below also reminds me that under all circumstances one must keep a sense of humor. Apparently a lot of women in the Run/Walk brought animals, too. Incredible strides have been made in breast ca drugs and treatments. As a survivor, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.