What You Might Not Know About Breast Cancer
I read a great article this morning that listed some things you might not know about breast cancer. After I read it I decided to make up my own list to share with you. My list comes from things I have learned from my cousin Martha, who is a 3 time breast cancer survivor.
What You Might Not Know about Breast Cancer
1. Cancer doesn’t define who you are. I can’t think of many people I admire more than Martha and one reason is because she doesn’t let cancer define her. Yes, she’s been fighting it for decades but she’s lived her life first and cancer is just a sidebar. I know because I’ve seen her in action.
Last year I went with her to Chicago. Martha is a life long educator and she was asked if she would come to Chicago to work with a school system there on their reading program. I sat in the back of the classroom and watched her train a room full of teachers. None of them knew about her cancer or her health issues because she didn’t tell them. They had no idea she was a 3 time survivor who has had been through chemo, surgery, and is on a medication now that turns her hands and feet bright red, causes them to peel and be so painful that even flipping a light switch hurts like heck. They didn’t know that her feet hurt so bad at the end of the day she sometimes cries when she takes her shoes off. They didn’t know she was so tired when she got back to her room after all day training that she puts her pajamas on before dark and sleeps for 11 hours so she will have the strength to get up and do it again the next day.
They didn’t know because she won’t tell them and she doesn’t whine.
I would. I know I would. But she doesn’t.
She doesn’t let cancer tell her what she can and can’t do. Not long ago I was in Florida for a visit and I went with her to chemo. After chemo she went home and rested for 1 hour and then got back up and insisted we go out to dinner. Again, I would have gone to bed for the rest of the day, but not Martha. She is one determined woman.
2. Bald is beautiful.
Martha has lost her hair twice. Sometimes she would wear a wig but often she wouldn’t. She’s from Florida and wigs are hot. Hair is an important thing to women. We spend hours trying to make it do whatever we think it is that we need it to do. My hair is extremely straight and when I was a teen I spent hours trying to get it to curl with my electric rollers.
Martha’s hair was full of natural curl and she spent hours trying to make hers straight. Martha has helped me see that hair is just hair. It isn’t who we are. It’s part of what we look like and when it’s not there….when someone is bald….then you can focus on their face and know that like my grandmother always said, “True beauty is on the inside.”
3. Faith, family and friends can lighten the load. Again, I know this because of Martha. Her faith is a huge part of her life (always has been) and she isn’t afraid to talk about it or share it with others. She’s the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. When we were teenagers she was so sweet and obedient to her parents that I teased her and called her Miss Goody Two Shoes. Truthfully I was jealous because even though my mother never said it, I knew she wanted me to be more like Martha. I wish I had been, it would have saved me a lot of heartache. But we each choose our own path and even though I was a rebellious teen, I always loved Martha and knew she was walking in faith while I was wandering around searching for my identity.
Her faith has kept her strong and her family and friends love her because of that and because she inspires us to be better people.
A few years ago she shared some powerful words of wisdom in her article, Important Advice from a Breast Cancer Survivor If you have someone in your life who is fighting breast cancer, or any kind of cancer, read her article and follow her advice. She walks the talk. I love you Martha!