A Blue State of Mind

"The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams." Oprah

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Location: The Western U.S, United States

I spent 48 years caring about what people thought of me. I'm not spending the rest of my life caring about that anymore!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Breast Cancer Survivors-A Dedication

Today in Phoenix the Annual Breast Cancer "Race for the Cure" is happening. Officials are estimating that at least half a million people will participate in running, walking or volunteering to help the event. Today is perfect weather for the Race because we have bright sunshine and cool temperatures-currently 76 degrees.

I have four friends who are Breast cancer survivors: Tanya- that's her facing the camera, laughing with Wooka, Cheryl-a co-worker, Susan-a co-worker turned friend and Dorie-friend. You can find sites and blogs all over the 'Net today about awareness events and requests for pledges but I'm supporting Susan who will be participating in the "Walk for A Cure". Last year Susan was strong enough to walk 60 miles, and she showed me the blisters and sores to prove it. She has been cancer free for more than eight years and we are the better for knowing her.

Tanya's illness was the one that 'rattled' me most in that she was in her mid-thirties, had no family history of breast cancer, and because she was one of the healthiest women I knew. She was very particular about what she ate, exercised, didn't smoke or drink-healthy. So when she announced to the church her diagnosis we were all so upset but like good friends, and strong Christians, we put on brave faces for her.

There were times when brave faces cracked and broke and real fear shined through. Times when Tanya would call us from whichever hospital room she was in, voice weary and drained after traveling across the Southwest to different cancer centers trying to save her breasts from being cut away from her body. We'd listen, silent tears falling, as she described having to endure the tests of having pieces of her flesh invaded by tubes, needles, plugs and scopes.

We saw her beautiful dark skin turn into charcoal, black ink. We saw her weight drop from 160 to 135 or 140. Most of all we saw her completely bald.

When we were young girls, we hated Tanya because of her hair. While my sister and I had hair that barely came down to the bottom of our ears, Tanya's hair was thick and coarse and fell to the middle of her back. Along with her breasts, cancer took Tanya's beautiful hair. In place of the long coarse hair, Tanya's hair, her 'post-cancer' hair is short, wavy and soft like a baby's hair.

Each of these ladies are so brave and I've listened to their stories of overcoming tests, chemo and radiation treatments. I've heard fear make their voices waver when speaking of dying and leaving their children and families behind, of the fears of no longer being attractive to their husbands or potential husbands. I've seen the long, cruel scars where breasts used to be, and have marvelled at breast reconstruction. Most of all though, I now make it a habit to self examine myself because I know that breat cancer can hit anyone, anytime. And I support people like Susan who walk so her daughters won't have to.


Blogger Dave said...

I think I have to reconcile myself to the fact that writing as you do takes a bit more time than what most of us throw out on a more regular basis.

Thanks, and cheers to your ladies!

October 14, 2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i was diagnosed in july and had the lumpectomy and radiation in august and september. now i have to take those nasty pills for either five years or forever, but thank goodness we have them!

smiles, bee

October 14, 2007 4:13 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

Debo - this is an excellent post - and reminder too - about breast cancer and the toll it takes. I am a cancer survivor too - colo-rectal -4 1/2 years ago. I was very fortunate in that the type of chemo and radiation I received didn't affect my hair, and didn't make me nauseous either until AFTER the surgery. But even then, it only lasted about 2-3 days each month for the first 3 months of chemo after the surgery.
But, when one thinks of the alternatives - no chemo, no radiation, no surgery -losing hair, being sick while getting the treatments -is really a small price to pay for good results.

It's a rough diagnosis to receive, regardless of what form of cancer it may be, but I think the breast cancer has to be one of the most difficult for the loss of such an important part of one's body, plus it seems the type of chemo required for good treatment is much harsher than others. But as I said - for a few more years -or many more -with family and friends here, it's worth the price. At least in my opinion.

Hope your friends come through with clean results like I did!

October 14, 2007 8:37 PM  
Blogger Le Fleur said...

I love this entry so much!

I have quite a few teachers and family members who are survivers and my cousin died a few years ago of a cancer that I know is treatable--I can't remember the name of it right now--but they didn't catch it early enough. I march in DC every year with my mother in honor of all of them and anyone who is brave enough to dawn their pink shirts and come out with us :)

October 15, 2007 7:39 PM  
Blogger SUGARTHEGIRL said...

Breast cancer is a beast!!! One of my first cousins is a survivor and she was diagnosed in her 30's. My sister had Leukemia and my grandfather died of prostate cancer. I'm constantly hoping and praying that I live a cancer free life!!!

October 16, 2007 12:26 PM  
Blogger H said...

Debo, this is a very warm and deeply felt post. Sending much strength to your friend Tanya... and to the others.

October 18, 2007 12:07 AM  
Blogger Kiyotoe said...

I've walked once but I support a close friend of mine who walks EVERY year in honor of his mom who survived the disease.

Survivors like your friends and co-workers are inspiring and they are the reasons why we do what we can to support the cause.

Good post big sis'.

Oh, did you know that the Cowboys lost to the patriots?

:-) just checking.

October 18, 2007 12:19 PM  
Blogger sarala said...

I lost my grandmother to breast cancer. She was only 62. At the time she had a radical mastectomy which was truly horrible. She had a lot of courage and is greatly missed.
I sometimes wonder if this had happened now instead of 25 years ago would she have survived.
Thanks for the post.

October 19, 2007 3:56 PM  
Blogger Debo Blue said...

Dave-I appreciate your patience.

Empress-You are so brave. I know you'll be tvling around the world and won't see this response, but thank you for sharing.

Jeni-I didn't know about you're being a Cancer survivor. Boy am I glad you're here to tell the tale!

Fleur-thanks for visiting. Feel free to stop by anytime!

Sugar-all we can do is hope

H-thanks for the warm thoughts. I bought her some new nail polish. Not cosmic pink, more of a subtler shade of pink. But she likes it.

Dragon-I watched the Dallas/Patriots game and noticed that Chicago lost ANOTHER game. Hummmm.

Sarala-thanks for continuing to visit. Would she have survived with today's new medical technology? I tend to believe so.

October 20, 2007 12:06 AM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

breast cancer....I think we all know someone in our lives who has been touched by it....my sister has just finishes her radiation treatments....she was amazing through the whole process....I didn't get a chance to participate in walk for a cure this year I am hoping for next year though....

October 20, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger Blu Jewel said...

cancer is almost as prevalent as the common cold and we're all affected in in some way. This post brings additional awareness to breast cancer and how we need to be vigilent in our health care and health screenings.

i support breast cancer awareness and plan to volunteer at the walk this year.

October 24, 2007 10:56 AM  

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