Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. I am a mom, a step-mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a lady who pays attention.
Next month is Breast Cancer Awareness and we will see the NFL adorn themselves with pink. Pink here and pink there. Thank goodness for that, truly, but lets not forget that cancer comes in forms of more than just pink ribbons or colored ribbons of any sort. Cancer doesn’t come in a tiny ribbon you pin to your outfit, it comes in the form of a speeding bullet train headed for a brick wall. It wrecks emotional havoc and for the very unfortunate, major physical havoc.
I was 25 years old when I was in the shower. I had put the shower gel directly in my hand and was washing my ladies aka my boobs. That’s when I felt it. It was not my boob. I mean it was, but something was amiss. I made my best friend feel it, I think over wine at PF Changs. Seemed like an appropriate place. She agreed…not my boob. I was in with the OBGYB within days, after a mammogram, ultrasound and final biopsy we were relieved to find out it was just a cyst.
I was 28 when my back was itching, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was too concerned with the persistent staph infection. I went to the dermatologist out of pure vanity. The staph was on my face. Cancer was the last thing on my mind. When the doctor asked if there was anything else I joked about the itchy back. I only thought about it because I scratched it like a bear on the corner of walls. I got the phone call before the rehearsal dinner of the same friend who felt my boob. It was Stage 2 Melanoma. Surgery was in the future and a chunk of my skin about 7 inches long and 5 inches wide was removed. Thank the Lord pathology came back clean. No other treatment necessary.
The next five years involved constant self checks. All of which took me to the doctor and 3 pre-cancerous freckles and one more melanoma was removed before it was too late. One removed 2 weeks after the birth of first born, she’s 7 weeks old. All this to say, I was both lucky and aware, year round. These scares reminded me that cancer was something we couldn’t just be aware of for one month out of year. The past year I have been reminded how lucky I really am. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and in that spirit a chord is struck.
My grandmother fought for 9 years, playing tennis up until two weeks before her death. That was the first I had heard of it. People don’t talk about ovarian cancer. So here we are…let’s talk about it. First the basics:
Now the people:
Buddha is the kind of person that snorts when she laughs (sorry for sharing that). She dances like no one is looking, and will honestly sundrop it with you down a sidewalk, because why not (sorry for sharing that too). She smiles ear to ear. Her name is Allison Walters and this year she was the recipient of the Spirit of Hope Award at the Lafayette Black and White Gala in Lafayette, LA. You can see a snip it of her story in this video:
Then I got a text from my college friend. “My sister went to the hospital because she had a bloat and pains in her belly that wouldn’t go away…” The text thread went on to tell me that they found a mass. After massive surgery and a waiting game, they found the source of the cancer. It was indeed ovarian. Erica Broussard is 29 years old. She has her last round of chemo on October 12th of this year.
I tell you all this not to scare you…well maybe scare you a little bit, but I will leave you with this: I find that every time I sat down to write this post, I get an overwhelming sense of guilt for the luck that some of us have. I think of the strength that so many women have to fight like they do. Be aware. Get your check ups. Pray for strength and health for yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors…pray for a cure.