There are few things that will rock a woman’s world more than hearing the words,
“You have breast cancer.”
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I was so DUMB about breast cancer before my diagnosis! Sure, I knew all about the PINK stuff (frankly, the marketing of all merch by anyone and everyone bugs me, but that’s for another post). I knew about “Susan G. Komen for the Cure”, and the races. My own grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born, two aunts by marriage had double mastectomies in the 60s/70s and lived to be very old, and I work with a woman who is herself a survivor. Sadly, she is also a grieving mother, having lost her only daughter – aged 38 – to complications from a battle with Stage IV BC less than two years ago.
So I had some personal exposure, but was pretty ignorant none the less. For example, I had no idea there were so many different types of BC (I won’t list all 14 here, but you can find the list and their symptoms on Breastcancer.org HERE.) I also wasn’t aware of other impacting factors, like whether or not the cancer expresses through the HER2 gene (like mine), or whether it’s Estrogen and/or Progesterone sensitive (mine was both).
Then there are other things looked for in the biopsies. Things like cancer grades, lymph node status and the BRCA1 gene we’ve all heard about thanks to Angie Jolie-Pitt.
Needless to say, up until January of this year, I thought of breast cancer primarily in terms of Stages (o-5, the higher the number the worse the prognosis), lost hair, lost breasts, and – occasionally – lost lives (to the tune of over 40,000 a year, as it turns out.)
Welcome to my crash course in a topic I never EVER thought I would be dealing with! And school came right at the most inopportune time. Suddenly, I had to do research when I was shocked, scared out of my mind, and – initially – unwilling to go the traditional “Cut and Burn” approach that the alternative media hypes as being worse than the cancer itself. When you first find out, the Earth tilts on it’s axis. You can’t think clearly, or you think too much. Little monsters start crawling around inside your head and – IF you can sleep – within your dreams. In my case, there were adult children to be told – and told in such a way to keep the freak out factor as low as possible. I had to tell my elderly mom, and the rest of my family. What I needed first was some answers, and quickly. See, I felt it was my duty…my responsibility…to show them I was CALM about the whole thing.
Because if Mom was calm, everything is going to be OK. Right?
My search initially took me on all sorts of rabbit trails…some of which I was very grateful for, others not so much. These were primarily the chat like “forums” on many of the large sites where the threads were filled with woman after woman posting about their own battles, and the horrible things they were dealing with.
Reading their posts was so heartbreaking and frightening. After no more than a day or two, I couldn’t deal with it. I was on IFO at that point (Information Fucking Overload). I knew, intuitively, that my attitude going into this thing would have everything to do with how I came out of it, and keeping my focus POSITIVE was imperative. (My surgeon later told me, bless her heart, that the only people who tend to post on those sites are the ones having all the problems – and that I should stay away.) I did scour the threads looking for ideas for dealing with chemo and radiation, though, and found some good tips that I have been using and will post about later.
All that being said, I wanted to use this first post to point you towards the “RESOURCE” page I created. Here you will find information that I personally looked into and found extremely helpful. If you are newly diagnosed, or know someone who is, this page might be a good starting point for them. It is, by no stretch of the imagination, a comprehensive catalog of all the resources out there for breast cancer patients. But it does cover a lot of the basics. You’ll find a tab for the Resource page at the top of my homepage. A click HERE will take you there right away.
There. That little piece of business is out-of-the-way. *smile* I have so much I want to write about.. .things that have been percolating in my mind for months, and for some reason, I didn’t feel compelled to post on The Wild Pomegranate. No wonder I was feeling blocked! (Even my own ideas for uncorking myself didn’t working! And yes, this was written by me under my real name. ) What I needed was a fresh start, a new focus, a blank slate. A PURPOSE. Now that I’ve created it here at GraceUpsideDown, the posts are already lining up in my head like planes on the tarmac at John Wayne!
Isn’t it amazing what happens when we get in alignment with our calling? Suddenly, Awen shows up, pouring all kinds of creative energy over our heads. Suddenly, I feel IT, I feel Her…and IT is a great feeling – One I know will carry me through the weeks and months ahead. A hidden blessing in the storm.
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself,
and know that everything in life has purpose.
There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross