Breast Cancer Awareness

October is breast cancer awareness month. On the first of October I awoke to social media feeds full of inspirational stuff about breast cancer awareness.

And it pissed me off.

Not because October has been breast cancer awareness month since 1985 and still one in eight women will get breast cancer.

Not because every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer. More than 1,400 women every day.

But because this October I’m struggling with my own breast cancer awareness.

Online it looks like pink products, fund raising events and survivors telling their stories. There are motivational quotes and praise for the latest research.

In real life it looks different.

My breast cancer awareness is looking in the mirror to see the quarter sized bump on my chest where the port is placed under my skin and being unable to look at myself without seeing a cancer reminder.

Awareness is spending hours researching cancer treatments and getting overwhelmed.

Awareness is touching my now short hair every few hours to see how much is falling out and wondering when I will have to shave my head.

Awareness is sitting for hours hooked up to machines that are pumping me full of medicine that may or may not cure me.

Awareness is trying to work but finding it difficult to concentrate and even harder to trust my brain.

Awareness is a worry of side effects that are worse than the disease.

Awareness is calling up a friend and having them tell me that they were thinking of me but didn’t want to call and bother me….all while I am scared of being forgotten.

Awareness is not wanting to make future plans because I don’t know if I will be too sick.

Awareness is knowing I will be spending the holidays in treatment.

Awareness is a pile of supplements taken every day with the hope that they are doing something more than burning through my money.

Awareness is waking up scared in the middle of the night feeling like a hot rock is sitting in my abdomen and making me not trust my gut.

Awareness is catching the fear in my husband’s eyes when he doesn’t know I see it.

Awareness is crying without being able to explain why.

Awareness is fatigue that makes doing everyday tasks harder and makes me feel useless.

Awareness is knowing there are others that are far worse off than me and belittling myself for complaining.

Awareness is knowing that I am still at the beginning of this journey and have no idea of the outcome.

14 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    While reading your post today, I was brought back to the time when my other massage therapist friend was going through cancer. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply I feel for you and all that you are going through. If I were there, I would be visiting you, encouraging you, giving you an outlet to vent your frustrations and loving you more for sharing.
    If you need someone to talk with or vent, I am here. My problems aren’t nearly as deep as yours.
    Perhaps I will give you a call later today after my class.
    Until then,
    Many blessings,
    Beverly Holdeman

  2. Kathy Metcalf
    Kathy Metcalf says:

    Thank you Mel for sharing your truth. I’m so sorry you are experiencing this. I am sending you a great big virtual squish filled with love.

  3. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    Thank you for this. This is what people gloss over in their feeble attempts to be “helpful” or optimistic. This month only squares the burden onto the shoulders of the diagnosed that much harder. I am sorry for your suffering; I am grateful that you share the truth.

  4. Lynda
    Lynda says:

    Awareness. I love you and your words are so true and real and I cry as I read them again.

    Here is my awareness: I deeply love you with my whole heart and I will be with you on this sometimes truly terrible journey where our awareness of what really matters is brought to light over and over again and beyond.

  5. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    Dr. Mel, I greatly appreciate your truth. I’ve walked the Susan G Komen 60 miles walk a couple of times and shared the path with the most courageous women. It was inspiring. You inspire me, I wish I could take away your “awarenessneses” and help you heal. Sending you my love and a big hug.

  6. .
    . says:

    Dearest Melanie: Words fail me. I think of you often and send you loving, healing energy: it never feels like enough. It makes me realize how trivial my little worries are. Thank God you have Tom in your life. I hope you know you can call on me if you need ANYTHING.
    Sending much love….


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