It’s October again, and time to put on my prettiest pink outfits and pink accessories and join in all the events that seem to dominate the month. And there are definitely a lot of them. As I embrace my tenth year of survivorship, I continue to look forward to these activities that I know will fill every moment of my time, leaving me exhausted, yet enriched and fulfilled.
As a breast cancer survivor, my October days are packed with everything from races, walks, luncheons, cocktail parties, fundraisers and advocacy. The month is literally painted with pink ribbons. The reason is to share awareness and consciousness for breast health, and to raise money for research, education and support for breast cancer, a disease that will affect one in eight women in her lifetime.
I see and experience enormous emotion at many of these events and have discovered that so many survivors benefit greatly from just being with other survivors.
Who goes to these events?
- The newly diagnosed woman. She attends her first event and finds that she is not alone. She has made a connection to a network of resources, people and organizations that are available to help her on her journey.
- The woman who has finished her treatment and can finally go out and say, “I am cancer-free!”
- The “in-crowd.” The camaraderie and love shared by women who have been brought together under the most horrible of circumstances, who have united and become the best of friends.
Imagine yourself in a procession of over a thousand breast cancer survivors marching in solidarity up to the stage in Downtown Miami for the Race for the Cure. You know that there isn’t a single person there who isn’t touched in some way by this outpouring of support.
October is always a bittersweet time for me. It is a month when I can reflect on my diagnosis and treatment. It is a time for me to just celebrate being alive and cancer-free. And it is a time to remember why we are still having these events.
Diagnosed at age 43, I was a single mother of a young child, and honestly had no idea which way to turn. So I turned inside myself, convinced that I was strong enough to fight this disease, without help or support. At the time of my diagnosis, I knew of no one who had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, and frankly I felt I didn’t have the time or energy to seek out others who had been through this.
Needless to say, that was a huge mistake – one that I only realized after my treatment was over. But that was not the end of my journey, because as soon as I finished my treatments, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Holding her hand through her diagnosis and treatments, and helping to guide her through it, was what brought me to the realization that no one should have to go through this alone, EVER!
So here I am, ten years later, trying to inspire other women (and men) that you can live a happy, joyous, and wonderful life even after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Because I am! And I have committed myself to the ubiquitous pink ribbon and all it stands for – for HOPE, for SUPPORT, for a CURE.
I pray that one day there will be no more need for events in October surrounded by pretty pink ribbons, because it would mean that we have finally put an end to this disease. But until we find a cure, I will keep fighting towards that goal. And, hopefully, inspire others along the way.
FIGHTING FOR A CURE!
DEBBIE, a 10-year breast cancer survivor
Debbie is 53 years young and recently retired as president of Brooks Patio Furniture. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. Her treatment included lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation therapy. She is a ten-year survivor. Debbie keeps herself busy working with many of the most prestigious breast cancer organizations locally and nationally. She believes nobody should go through the breast cancer journey alone and works with Save Our Sisters (a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team), Your Bosom Buddies, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Florida Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Debbie’s hobbies and interests include knitting/crocheting, cooking, gardening, wine, reading, scuba diving, boating and biking. She is happily married to her best friend, Toby Cline! Life is good:)
PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION
As a part of our mission to make The Journey a powerful voice for everyone in our community, we invite each of you to consider joining the conversation and sharing your journey with comments and feedback. You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor, you can be a caregiver, or a friend, or a concerned citizen. What we are looking for is meaningful and helpful conversations that will encourage other people as they travel along their journey. Sharing is caring and very cathartic. I sincerely urge you to take part.