Color Me PINK...So I Can "FIGHT LIKE A GIRL"!!!

Cancer does not respect age, ethnicity, religion or sex.  I came face to face with this truth while taking my father-in-law to M.D. Anderson to have a kidney removed due to cancer.  When I saw the sheer enormity of the "city of buildings", I was in awe.  I felt that we had made the right decision by choosing this place for his surgery.  Walking inside one of those buildings, at first I was amazed by the facility and everything it offered and then the second thing that I quickly noticed was the diversity of people there.  It hit me...Cancer does not respect anyone.

I write this post because October has been deemed "Breast Cancer Awareness Month".  One can find PINK everywhere they look.  And THIS is a reminder that there are brave warriors out there fighting a battle every day.  People run in 5k's and attend other types of fund raisers for the "Cause", but as I wrote this post, I began to ponder what we, as women, could do for the sake of Breast Cancer Awareness".  Here are a few things that I came up with:  First, get your annual exam...DON'T put it off.  Secondly, if you are of age, have your MAMMOGRAM  done annually.  And third, know your own body; do self-examinations at home.  I realize that doing these things strike fear in the heart of many women.  When one goes in to have these tests done, it is for one specific reason:  To find out if you have breast cancer.  However, EARLY DETECTION is vital to surviving a diagnosis of this disease.  Don't get too busy that when you look up, it has been several years since you have had an examination or testing done.

Although, I HATE having these diagnostic tests done myself, I ALWAYS schedule my annual exam.  There has never been a time that I have walked in to have my mammogram done, that I wasn't a bit anxious.  Who wouldn't be?  You are there for one reason only; to find out if you have breast cancer. Regardless, I have NEVER missed my annual exam or mammogram. As I sit with other women in the waiting area, all of us wearing those institutional gowns, my heart pounds at the thoughts of, "What if...".  A couple of years back, I got exactly what I had been fearful of for years, a "call back".  When I saw the phone number of my doctor on my Caller ID, I knew something was up.  Upon answering the phone, he began to explain that my mammogram had come back as "abnormal" and that it needed to be repeated.  My heart stopped.  I felt physically ill.  I didn't know what to say, think or do.  I asked him if I could have the repeat test done immediately; that afternoon would not be soon enough for me.  It was scheduled for 3 days later.  3 days seemed liked an eternity to me.  I prayed and cried and thought of all the terrible possibilities in store for me.  I was distraught.

When I walked into the radiology department to have those repeat tests done that day, Robby was with me.  If I had experienced anxiety before, I  now considered myself in panic mode.  I once again sat there in my hospital issue gown, wringing my shaking hands, until they called me to the back waiting room.  Robby could not accompany me there; I was on my own from here on out.  I had placed a cross coin in my pocket that morning and gently stuck my hand down in there to feel of it as I prepared for this frightening experience.  As I walked into the room, the technician took one look at my face and asked if I was OK.  What kind of question was THAT?!  NO,  I was NOT OK!  Thinking I was about to either pass out or throw up, she felt it necessary to sit me down for a moment and attempt to calm my nerves.  She explained (as had my doctor...), that they were not looking at a mass, but some tissue.  She said that they had just upgraded their equipment to the digital type, which was much clearer, and needed to do some comparisons.  This did not make me feel better or ease my nerves.  Once she had finished the mammogram, she sat me in a chair outside the room.  I was waiting to see if an ultrasound would also have to be performed.  I sat there finding it difficult to breathe.  Once again, I touched the cross in my pocket and silently said another prayer.  When the technician came back to see me, she said that they were going to do the ultrasound.  I swallowed that lump in my throat as I followed her into the next room.  When all of the tests were complete, I got dressed and walked back out into the main waiting area to find Robby impatiently pacing the floor.  David was in town that weekend and he met us at the nail salon.  Those guys decided they would hang out with me all day; even if it meant having pedicures with me.  That was one of the sweetest things they have ever done for me. 

The tests may have been over, but the worrying was not.  Waiting and not knowing is the worst part of something like this and the waiting had officially begun for me now.  It was a Friday and I knew that I would most likely have to wait until Monday to get the results; for me that would be unbearable.  Robby, however, made it his goal to find out by the end of the day.  It was the Grand Opening of our new store and everyone was busy with preparations for that. I didn't want to worry anyone else, so we kept all of this to ourselves.  As I was out in the greenhouse watering the plants, I saw Robby hurriedly rush through the door, give me a relieved look and the "2 thumbs-up" sign.  He walked over and put his arms around me as he gave me the news that everything was OK...and for the first time in days, I was able to breathe.

Once I had that "abnormal mammogram", the tests were not over for me.  I had to be set up for repeat tests every 6 months, until they decided I could go back to the annual screening process.  I'm not going to lie; that first time back for another test in 6 months was pretty nerve wracking.  My anxiety level rose again and I didn't breathe until the results came back.  I am now back to having annual mammograms but I cannot say that my anxiety has subsided any, as I walk into that radiology department each year.  I know first hand how scary having these tests done can be, but I STRONGLY urge you to GET THEM DONE.  Not having these tests done because of anxiety or fear does not mean that breast cancer will decide not to offend you; remember, it has NO respect for anyone.

Many, if not all of us, know women who have fought or are currently fighting Breast Cancer.  They are BRAVE beyond our wildest dreams.  We cannot imagine what they are going through each day (physically AND emotionally) on their own, personal battle fields.  What can we do for them?  We can pray for them during treatment.  We can pray for their full recovery.  We can run races and donate to the "Cause" so that this disease may one day be CURED.  We can wear our PINK...Because there are MANY women out there who are FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL to win their battle with Breast Cancer!

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