As I reflect on October and what it represents, it’s easy to get caught up in all the breast cancer fundraising activities and events, and lose sight of the month’s real purpose. There is a party or event almost every day, but, as great as it is, to a survivor in some ways the month can be an exhausting experience if you don’t consciously make an effort to manage the busyness of it all.
Aside from the possibility of being physically worn out from attending multiple events, there is also an emotional toll as we think about the many women who are not as fortunate as we are to still be here living life.
Or the women who may be battling to have just one more day with the people they love, or those women whose doctors have exhausted every possible treatment option to save their life but to no avail – like my friend Maria.
Maria was diagnosed over two years ago with late-stage breast cancer, which we thought was under control. Unfortunately, her cancer has now metastasized throughout her body more than I care to think about.
Because of women like Maria, October for me serves as a reminder of a couple of things:
- Not just this month but throughout the year we must always, always make sure the women in our lives get their annual mammograms and are mindful of their breast health no matter what age they are.
- As breast cancer survivors, no matter how dedicated we are to the cause or how tirelessly we work to support it, taking care of ourselves and our own health and wellness MUST always be our number-one priority.
Let’s “pump up the volume” on breast cancer awareness and the importance of getting annual mammograms and early detection – but not only during October. That’s something we should promote every month because, as we know, early detection saves lives!
So, for me, October is about honoring and celebrating life – the many lives that have been saved by early detection, the lives that have been lost because there is no cure, and the lives of the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
I now approach October with honor and reverence for all the beautiful, courageous women who have succumbed to, or have conquered and won, the fight against breast cancer.
Love and hugs to all of my survivor sisters during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and every month throughout the year!
Rhonda is a breast cancer survivor and the founder/CEO of Breast Cancer Partner, an organization that provides health and wellness education programs and resources for breast cancer survivors. Since her diagnosis in 2008, new windows of opportunity have opened up for her beyond her wildest dreams. She serves on the Patient Advisory Council at Baptist Health Breast Center, was a first runner-up in MORE Magazine’s 2010 Beauty Search Contest, and last year, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, appeared on NBC6’s South Florida Today Show and in The Miami Herald about Breast Cancer Partner and her new passion.
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