I have been giving a lot of thought to the face of breast cancer. What is it? As breast cancer patients and survivors, I sometimes feel like we are one dimensional to the outside world. Other people have vague ideas about mastectomies, chemo or radiation. But you treat it and it goes away, right?
There are so many faces to breast cancer:
*The 30-something young mother, bravely fighting her original cancer, and finding out in the middle of chemo that it spread to her bones.
*The two-year survivor who still experiences paralyzing anxiety and PTSD.
*The 30-year old who beat breast cancer, but still faces a hysterectomy and a lifetime of worry.
*The 40-year old survivor who fights debilitating leg pain every day, but still laces up her sneakers to try to walk her way back to a healthy life.
*The single mom battling stage 4 cancer while trying to make sure her kids are cared for.
*The 40-something who dreads every doctor appointment, because it feels like Russian roulette with test results.
*The 20-something woman making funeral arrangements after her treatment options were exhausted.
These are all faces of breast cancer. I know because these are my friends and sisters. One of them is me. We are all real, and we are everywhere. We may be your mother, sister, daughter, neighbor, co-worker, or friend. We may look well but we are in pain, no matter how long we have been finished with treatment. Don’t mistake our optimism for peace. We are just putting on a positive face while we attempt to regain our lives. We turn to each other for support because it sometimes feels like no one else can understand.
So be patient with us. Don’t question our pain. Dont assume we are fine. Just help us blaze a path through it. We do not want to be faceless. We want to build a community that reaches across cancer. And no one face can do that alone.