I despise talking about cancer. Most of the time, I pretend it doesn’t exist so it can’t take me by surprise anymore, and I imagine that’s probably the case for some of us; but it’s the people who DO talk about cancer that kick it in its face, say NO YOU DON’T GET TO HAVE ALL OF ME, and fight back that inspire me most. I’d like to be one of those people, yet I suppose I’m still hiding from the impact this horrible, crappy disease has had on my family and on so many people I love, and who you love.
My mom at her 50th birthday, two years cancer free. She wore a pink jumpsuit.
I remember the phone call nearly word for word. It was early October 1996, and when I answered, both my parents were on the line. My dad started to talk with a forced cheerfulness as my mom struggled to speak above a whisper.
Of course I knew.
My mom’s cancer had returned. First diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 48, my mom beat her initial poor prognosis with a hysterectomy (her tumor was fed by estrogen) and mastectomy, and repeated scans and check ups assured us that she was out of the danger zone. She’d made it five years, cancer-free, and then some. We all thought it was gone forever, and lived as though it wouldn’t touch us again (which is how you should live). But in the intervening years, cancer visited again when two of my dad’s sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer, an especially heart-breaking deal because my dad’s middle sister, Shirley, had been taken by breast cancer ten years earlier.
My mom counted her blessings afterward, I know. She took care of herself, practiced simple gratitude every day, and helped others who suffered from the disease and were alone or scared. So it didn’t seem right that after these years, after the clean scans, and the five-year marker, she learned her cancer had metastasized to her bones; a decidedly upsetting diagnosis because we knew what it meant. But cancer is and never has been fair, to anyone.
Over the next year I watched my mom shrivel and it’s that shrinking process I most abhor, it’s why I don’t like to acknowledge cancer because to do so, is to have to watch. Even if it’s not about me, even if I need to be there TO watch. Because she needed me to bear witness.
In the last days for my mom, I was there, every day until the very last fall of her breath, and I still don’t talk much about it, preferring to dull the images and write the awfulness and ripping away of someone I love instead.
I still don’t talk about it.
But that’s wrong. Because standing in front of cancer are the fighters, the warriors, the survivors; those who bang the drum and rise up against. The ones who don’t hide. And for all of them, I shouldn’t hide either.
My mom didn’t hide. She fought and held onto us tightly until the end. She’d want me to talk about her, especially if remembering her courage helps whoever is going through this now, and need to know we bang the drum.
This October, Ford Warriors in Pink® has launched its first ever produced documentary, “Bang the Drum: Living Out Loud in the Face of Breast Cancer.” The film honors 11 men and women breast cancer survivors who have demonstrated strength and courage in their battle with its “Models of Courage” program. 2012 marks Ford Motor Company’s 18th year of support for the breast cancer cause. In that time, Ford has dedicated more than $115 million to the breast cancer cause.
You can get involved in this tremendously worthy program! When you buy Ford Warriors in Pink apparel at fordcares.com, 100 percent of the net proceeds go directly to support breast cancer awareness all year long.
(On sale at Fordcares.com)
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ford Warriors in Pink. The opinions and text are all mine.