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  • Writer's pictureKate

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I have been trying to think of something special to do for breast cancer awareness month. I have come to the conclusion that writing about it and encouraging my friends and family to be aware of their own potential risks is something I CAN do. Take it from me, someone who has been having breast cancer screenings since I was 26 years old. Being aware of your body, knowing your own risk, and demanding regular care is on you. I messed up by getting complacent and not getting my yearly breast MRI last year. I am no longer complacent, and I don't want you to be either. Let me be the voice in your head. I have been forced into the realization that the breast cancer recommendations for average risk and high risk women are there for a reason, and you should take them seriously in order to better your chances of catching cancer early. I don't want any of you to go through what I have gone through, including the guilt, so please take my word for it! See the American Cancer Society's recommendations for screening and how to know if you are average or high risk for getting breast cancer in your lifetime. I was always aware of most of the risks, but I'm not sure I took them as seriously as I should have. Enough preaching, you take what you want from my journey and I hope you will be more diligent because of me. 

So, until I figure out something better to do for this month, I am going to focus on myself and start working towards goals I have been putting off. See, that's the whole thing about cancer. You put your life on hold, the plans you had suddenly change, trips you had booked get cancelled, priorities shift, and things just kind of seem to happen in slow motion, but fast at the same time. Take summer for instance, all of this started in early spring, and by the time summer rolled around, I was bald, in the midst of chemotherapy, and feeling fairly miserable most of the time. I got out in the yard when I felt well enough, but I didn't end up doing any of the things that are typical of summer. I went to the lake once, but couldn't go swimming because of the risk of getting an infection from the water. I spent some time with family and friends, but mostly I was in my house, in my bed, or close to it. Planning is just too difficult.

With chemo, you never know how you are going to feel, so you just end up having to be spontaneous and go and do things on the days you are feeling well. In August, after completing chemo and prior to surgery, I felt pretty good, so Andy and I exercised, went on bike rides, went to the state fair, etc. We thought about taking a trip, but I had to try and avoid getting sick prior to surgery, so that was out. Surgery put my life on hold again. I found out, having restrictions (lifting, exercising, twisting, etc.) is not my cup of tea. Now, with chemo quickly approaching again, I am feeling like I still can't plan because I don't know what to expect.

So, in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I am going to take back what control I still have. I am going to wake up in the morning, create my to-do list and finish it by the end of the day. I am going to start working on my master's project again, get back into a work out routine, and we are going to try and get out of town if it is at all possible. I am taking charge because I am sick of sitting around and waiting...

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