It’s October again, and the stadium lights are shining bright at the local high school. College game day is every Saturday, and pumpkin spice is served at Starbucks. I also see a lot of pink, signifying breast cancer awareness month is here!
20 Years of Supporting the Fight Against Breast Cancer
I was asked to speak at the local Susan G. Komen and American Cancer Society kickoff event in preparation for the annual Race For The Cure. I had walked in every breast cancer walk for the last 20 years until a few years ago when the event was canceled due to COVID. I even participated in the Susan G Komen 60-mile walk in 2014. Race For The Cure is back this year with all of its fanfare! The fundraising has begun, and the pink ribbons are here.
I approached the desk at the kickoff event, and the first thing I was asked was if I was a survivor. I don’t remember being asked that before. I hesitated and then said yes. They gave me a survivor’s sash, much like the one Miss America wears, so that everyone can identify you as such. I hung my survivor sash on the back of my chair and later had my husband carry it to the car.
My Diagnosis Story
In October 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with bilateral mastectomies. I am considered cured. I didn’t feel like much of a survivor. The woman who spoke before me had very aggressive stage 4 cancer, so she had aggressive chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. She fought the hard fight, and she is a survivor.
In contrast, my cancer was found on a mammogram, with microscopic calcifications in a suspicious pattern. No mass was felt. I did not require chemotherapy or radiation. I was lucky to catch mine at the earliest stage possible. For me, the mammogram saved me from the harsher treatment. That is not the case for everyone.
Gynecologist Turned Survivor
As a gynecologist, I have spent my career counseling women on the importance of mammograms, self-breast exams, and clinical exams yearly. I have also counseled women on their risk factors and the best available screening choices. Now when I have to give someone the news that they have breast cancer, I can also tell them I have been there. I can answer challenging questions based on my experience.
Maybe that makes me a survivor. I’ll be walking the first breast cancer walk in a few years this month—the first one since my diagnosis. The Woman’s Clinic has a team, and we are busy fundraising. I hope you will all come out and walk with us. I will be the one with the sash emblazoned with “Survivor.”
To walk with The Woman’s Clinic at the American Cancer Society walk on October 29th, click here: https://bit.ly/3VlnXma