PREVIVOR: A person who is not diagnosed with cancer, but has survived the predisposition, or higher risk, of cancer due to a genetic mutation and/or strong family history. After being armed with this information, a previvor can make informed choices prior to a cancer diagnosis.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Touched by an Angel?

Several things have happened over the past few days to make me feel a lot better about my upcoming surgery. It reminds me of the story "Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy" by Geralyn Lucas. if you haven't read the book or seen the movie (it was on Lifetime I believe) then I highly reccommend it. She was in her 20s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to have a a single mastectomy. She talks about several angels being placed along the way to help solidify her decision to have the surgery as opposed to a lumpectomy. So I feel like as soon as I feel that this whole mess is unbearable, I get my very own angels sent to help me feel better about what's going on.

After work on Friday, I decided to get Lenny's for dinner. As I pulled in, I noticed a small shop next to it that sold t-shirts, jewelry and other accessory type things. I decided to take a look in there before I went to get my dinner. I saw a gorgeous Willow tree like figurine holding a big breast cancer ribbon and it said "A symbol of hope, strength, and survival for all to see" I picked it up and didn't see a price on it. Since I was the only customer in the store, and I saw the clerk watching me with avid interest, I casually asked "How much is this?" "$17" she answered, still looking at me with an inquistive expression on her face. She quickly brought me the box to  it and hesitated for a second. She finally shyly asks "Are you a breast cancer survivor?" Now at this point, I'm sure normal people would have said "No" and left it at that. I'm almost positive that after this post is read by people I'll be told plenty of times that I tell people too much information about myself. But I'm far from normal and I tend to share too much so I said "Actually, I'm having a mastectomy in a few months because of a genetic risk for breast cancer. So to answer your question, no I'm not a survivor but I'm very much affected by this disease" Her eyes grew to  the size of dinner plates and she said "You're having your breasts removed? Before you get cancer?" and I said "Yes, thats exactly right. I've had plenty of doctors tell me that this is what I should do. I may be hard headed and stubborn, but I'm not stupid so I listened." Her inquistive look changed completely to awe and she says "That's so brave. Good luck with everything. You have to come back in after your surgery to let us know you're ok" I thanked her and took my awesome new purchase and left, feeling very good about myself.

Another thing that happened, is that in response to one of my posts on the FORCE website someone mentioned that a victim is not someone who has the courage to do what I'm doing. So I'm not a victim, simple as that. Another person who had read my story used the word amazing to describe me. Now I'm not sure I live up to that adjective, but I've been called that before so there must be something to it, right ? =) Ok that was really a joke but I have been told that I'm amazing, strong, etc when it comes to dealing with medical situations. I've never thought I lived up to that...I just take what's been handed to me and deal with it in the best way possible. But I like that description. I like to think that I'm a strong warrior, not a helpless victim. A few years ago, I got a tattoo on my foot. It's the chinese symbol for strength. I got it after a long debate...I got it to remind myself that I am a strong person. I do have may be hidden behind anxiety and worry at times. But it's there. I just have to remember to use it.

I've mentioned before one of my favorite quotes "Courage is the art of knowing your the only one who's scared to death" another quote I've heard is "What doesn't kill you doesn't always make you stronger, but helps you to realize the strength you've always had"

I went and got my oil changed in my car recently and they gave me the sticker that says the next date to get an oil change. Mine was 04/29/2011. Then it hit me...that'll be 9 days after my surgery. It's fast approaching, and I can only hope that I can hold on to this new, better attitude as time gets closer.

I know that the anxiety attacks aren't 100% behind me. I know they'll be days where the creep up on me and I have to mentally take the fetal position and cry my eyes out. I'll try to take deep breaths and remember my angels that visited me this weekend. And look at my foot tattoo. And if that doesn't work...I'll have the Xanex close by! =)

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