This November marks the five year mark of when I had my lumpectomy surgery. I know we have all heard or seen someone experience the nasty disease that is cancer. It’s war path leaves traces of an experience that forever changes the lives of those that it touches.
For everyone that goes through breast cancer first-hand, although you can identify with others in a new way, it is also an individual experience. When you are going through the process, no one can take the pain, confusion, loneliness, fear, or physical ailments on themselves to give you a break.
Cancer is defined as “the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”(Prezi.com). This sounds pretty simple and to the point right? When you are sitting and watching a movie, it can feel pretty cut and dry, but when you are in a room with a doctor and they say it directly to you……….
At the time I was a single mother with 2 children, a full-time career, and my whole life ahead of me, or so I thought, because now I was told that I have to fight for it. My life was flipped upside down. It was a good thing I had found a great doctor that questioned a lump that other doctors had brushed off due to my young age, because it was now stage 2 cancer.
On this journey I would experience emotions that I didn’t even know I could feel at this level. The fear for my life was real. The effects of chemotherapy were real. Chemotherapy is designed to kill those rogue cancer cells but along with it, killed some I still needed! I remember pitch black hands due to the killing of my nerves, the vomiting, and the memory lapses. I remember the needles from what seemed like endless prodding, the scans, and the colors and scents that are still etched in my senses. My yearly mammograms and MRI’s still bring those experiences back to my memory. The sleepless nights and losing my hair caused me to think a lot more than any person going through breast cancer should have to. I was a reminded every time I looked in the mirror of the battle that I was engaged in. The looks on the faces of the loved ones that watched me go through this was heartbreaking and painful as well.
But I saw something else. I saw other women and men going through breast cancer. Some lost their lives to this battle, and some won. I hung on to both. Life is valuable, so I can appreciate the preciousness of it, and then at the same time life is yours for the taking so go get it!
I saw women and men of every nationality, background, age, and religion going through the same experiences as myself while showing strength, resilience, and a hope that this disease will not take them out of the life that they were fighting to live. My view of cancer changed and I saw that we are all in this together. We have all seen the pink ribbon and associate that with breast cancer. After my battle I didn’t see that pink ribbon, I saw exactly what I saw while going through cancer because cancer does not discriminate! I love what the pink ribbon stands for. It symbolizes the battle, raises money for research, and gives back to so many women and men that experience this nasty disease. It is hope for so many, and has and will always encourage so many in their time of tribulation.
While I was driving around one day, this beautiful image came to my mind, I just had to see it come to pass! This image is what I saw, felt, experienced on my journey through breast cancer. This image represents all of us! The image that you see above is what I saw.
For Mercedes, that’s not what I see. Through my lens, I will always see the pain, agony, fear, sleepless nights, and the fight for my life. I also see the triumph, grace, hope, love, and a bull-dog mentality to survive. I also see people from all walks of life conquering this disease together. When you see this picture, just know, that this is what I see when I see breast cancer.