Today is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Our social media accounts and pages will be flooded with inspiration, motivation, hope, education, and call to action. It's a beautiful thing to make a difference through your personal story.
More than a story, these posts are filled with the truth of how Breast Cancer invades one's life. Whether claiming victory or honestly trying to overcome feelings of despair, every emotion - every word of any story matters because someone had to live it to tell it. It matters because someone might have had to wipe away tears before it was spoken. It matters because someone has to live with the notion that every day is a battle to live.
It / We / She / He matters!
What does not matter to me is what color we are representing, what words we choose to use, and the way in which we choose to educate, advocate, and raise awareness.
It all matters!
Within the Breast cancer community, there should never be an US vs THEM mentality. I can't dismiss someone who chooses to say that "early detection saves lives" because it may be their truth. It does not mean that they are unaware of the risks of recurrence. A truth spoken is an individual, personal experience. Who knows how that testimony will move someone who is afraid of getting a mammogram to action? I can't dismiss someone who chooses to ring a bell or do a dance. Every celebration is unto God, as far as I'm concerned. God delights in our praises.
As a survivor, I would believe it safe to say that we do not ever, ever want to make a celebration outshine the need for more research. I do NOT EVER want any of my actions to be interpreted as ignoring Stage IV. There is a level of courage, faith, and love within the metastatic community from which we can all learn.
Our purpose and actions may be different. We have different God given gifts that help us to fulfill our purpose(s). I'll be the first to applaud you for living within your purpose (even if it's different than mine). Why? I suspect - in the end, our hope for a day when Breast cancer is no longer effecting 1 in 8 women is the same.
Further, I understand that Breast Cancer Awareness month is highlighted more than other cancers. The fact that this month has been purposed for Breast Cancer awareness does not make me forget that Cancer is a Beast. When we face Cancer, it matters NOT what kind of cancer we have. Every cancer deserves attention, awareness, focus, research and more.
Take it from me ~~~>Someone who has lost (another one of those buzz words that cause division -- they didn't lose to cancer but I sure suffered loss when they passed) many relatives to cancer:
My dad died of metastatic colon cancer (diagnosed and passed within 4 weeks);
My paternal grandfather - colon cancer;
My great uncles (3) colon/stomach cancer,
My maternal grandmother - breast cancer;
My maternal grandfather - brain cancer.
I want for the light to be shined ON ALL CANCERS. I want everyone to be enlightened about risks, disparities, research, preventative measures, and more across the cancer spectrum. In the end, it is painfully obvious that someone will not like a word, a color, a campaign because it may not tell their story best. No one wants to be excluded.
I care. I care about every color, every cancer, every stage, and every need. I care that men get Breast cancer, too & that the light is often not shined as much as needed there. The unfortunate thing is that there is so much work to be done in the war we all wage against cancer. I care. We care. I know we all do. We're a part of a community that we didn't choose. It's almost like not being able to choose your family. Truth is, we are that --- family ---- a family of survivors/thrivers/overcomers. We may not get along, but our hopes, fears, and joys probably have many similarities.
As a survivor/thriver/overcomer, we should understand better than most what it means to LIVE and how important it is to live with purpose and compassion.
I guess I said all that to say no matter which road we travel - our separate road arrives at one final and ultimate destination:
The need - The hope for a CURE!
Folks should be free to share and tell their truth(s), share their gift(s), and choose to run the race in the way that is most meaningful and healing for them.
should ever separate us because we have hope, faith, and love beyond measure.
Hugs and High 5s, Carletta
P.S. I applaud you for where you've been and where you're going because YOU matter!