I should preface this blog post by telling my readers that I’m fully aware of the heartbreaking and terrible circumstances that surround breast cancer, or any kind of cancer for that matter; however, please don’t expect this blog to be one that will scare or sadden you. As per usual, my perspective is a light-hearted one and I mean to make people smile with my words. That being said…

Cancer.

Just looking at the word makes people cringe. What is it? How can there be so many kinds? One little word can hold so many pretenses and meanings ……

We are bombarded with statistics everyday about cancer; how many people die each day, hour, minute from this invasive and destructive disease that can take over someone’s body so quickly.  But what is it really? To someone it could be the disease that took a family member away, to another it could be a disease they are trying to cure, to another it is a cause worth fighting, to another it’s something they’ve battled and beat….but to a few it still remains a distant disease that hasn’t popped their bubble yet.

Not many get to live in those precious, lucky bubbles that cancer floats just beyond… Up until this year, I had one of those bubbles. I’ve had relatives that have fought various types of cancer and suffered heartbreaking consequences due to the disease…much of this was when I was a child, it was beyond my understanding and something the “grown-ups” didn’t discuss with me. But a phone call in July burst my bubble in a very real way- my Mom has breast cancer.

I can’t speak for the emotions that my Mom had to deal with after receiving that phone call. I have no idea how hard it was for her to call each of the people she loves and tell them that she has cancer, but I can imagine it was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done. I say that because my Mom has always put EVERYONE before herself. Her entire life has been dedicated to being the best wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend that she possibly can. So, to not only be dealing with the shocking news of a breast cancer diagnosis, she was upset because she was “burdening” her loved ones with the news. Of course, none of us felt burdened…  I felt sad, scared, upset, angry, and a multitude of other things, but never burdened.

The shock of a breast cancer or any cancer diagnosis is life altering. But once the dust settles and you’ve processed the information, it becomes a part of life- something you just do, something you are. That’s not to say that a person just becomes the disease, but I believe it becomes a part of them, another identifier to write under their name.

I know my mom was concerned that she’d be reduced to nothing but a cancer patient, that the only topic of conversation she’d be approached with is “how are you feeling” and questions of the like. I assured her that she was so much more than that and no one was going to treat her like a social reject all of the sudden.

She was also concerned about her external features changing because of the cancer. Would she lose her hair? Would she have to have a mastectomy? How would that alter her confidence or her relationship with my Dad. Obviously, my Father will love my Mom through anything, but the notion of suddenly losing those things that make a woman feel like a woman was scary.

I tried to be supportive of my Mom’s worries and fears in the only way I know how… I told her if she loses her hair, she should get a sweet tattoo on top. I imagined an eight ball, holes like on a bowling ball or simply a message that said “this side up.” I for one thought this was a brilliant idea! If I had to shave my head, with the prospect of growing my hair back, I would get a tattoo on top just to say I have it! You know, I’ve seen those emails go around with the artist who draws perspective sidewalk drawings, the ones that look like you’re standing at the bottom of a swimming pool or standing on the ledge of a building about to fall off… I should get that guy to do something on my scalp that looks like you’re seeing into my head… that would be an easy work of art- not much to draw. (I would like to add here that I searched for relevant images of head tattoos and thought many of them might scare readers…so I apologize for the lack of illustration to that point…Instead please enjoy these amazing sidewalk drawings!)

              

I also suggested that if she had to have a mastectomy, she should really look into implants. I mean, I don’t think my Mom could handle any Pam Anderson sized jubblies but I told her being in her 40s and having perkier, nicer boobs than her daughters sounds like a good deal! My mom has also had trouble keeping weight on due to a thyroid problem…so since she’s already a gorgeous woman, being a skinny, 5’7’’, big breasted lady would make her the envy of lots of people! I figured this sounded like an amazing plan too, until I started to worry for me and my sister about having to fight off our already perverted friends who think our Mom is hot. I mean, I’m on my way to being married and therefore being able to punish and torture my soon to be husband for even glancing in the wrong direction, but my sister? She is single and ready to mingle and I’m sure she does not want to compete for a man’s attention with my Mom, no matter how much she loves her.

So, since the prospect of a kick ass tattoo or new frontal flotation devices were quickly nixed, I told my Mom she was clearly going to make this a challenge for me in terms of discovering ways to exploit this disease in a positive light. Normally, I would suggest adopting a wardrobe that contained childish T-shirts with funny sayings on them in regards to breast cancer, which believe it or not, there exists  a whole wide world of options… but I’m sure my rational and shy mother would never wear them. I can’t picture her sporting a t-shirt with the saying “Yes they’re fake, the real ones tried to kill me,” or “Check your Boo-Bees” with a little cartoon bee buzzing across it.  Those are some pretty great ones, along with the slightly more intense: “New and Improved- Now with more Radiation!” and “I’m having a no hair day.”

                

Nope, no fun sayings…instead my mom will take the traditional route and sport the breast cancer pink on every piece of her clothing. I have to admit, I’m struggling with this wardrobe adaptation. Pink is not my favorite color, in fact, pink is a color you will never see me wear. I really have no rational explanation for my radical hatred of this “feminine” shade except just that…it’s feminine. I’ve spent my whole life trying to convince the world I’m a hard ass and more than just a girl (That’s right Gwen Stefani…I’m MORE than just a girl) and for some reason I never got the opinion that wearing pink helped. BUT, I guess things change. Now when I look at pink…specifically anything pink that references breast cancer, I don’t feel the need to scoff at how ridiculous pink is and instead I feel a sense of pride… pride in my mom and the rest of the women who have not only stood up to breast cancer but have helped it become a common place cause; something the public talks about. There are so many women who have and are doing great things to help educate and raise awareness about breast cancer. Discussing breast cancer in public was taboo until about the 1970s… I think many people of my generation take for granted the simple fact that we CAN publically discuss this disease. It’s a truly amazing and inspiring thing to know there is a Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that women all over the world now share a voice that’s being heard.

The most common name associated with breast cancer efforts is Susan G. Komen. This woman was an inspiration to so many and today her sister, Nancy (pictured), is leading the fight against breast cancer and unifying a population of women that should humble us all. My message to all of you ladies out there who have fought, survived and stood by while breast cancer raised havoc in your life: You are a testament to the human spirit. The positivity, hope and oneness that radiates from you is infectious and more powerful than you could ever know. Your ability to demonstrate strength, compassion and joy in some of the most trying times surpasses any expectation. You are each my hero…thank you for being exactly who you are and plowing the way for the rest of us. Mom, I love you and today you are one of those people who can stand proud and say you’ve fought in this battle and won. Here’s to you.

Lots of Love,

Jammer

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