One day I found my daughter extremely upset and crying. I asked her what was wrong and said “you lied to me”, and sobbed harder. I asked what it was that she thought I had lied to her about, as I try to be as honest, but gentle, as I can. She said “you told me the cancer was gone, but it isn’t”. I had been diagnosed with cervical cancer a few years prior, but it had since gone into remission. I asked her why she would think that I would lie about it, and she went on to explain that she had found pieces of my hair laying on top of the bathroom trash. I tried to explain that I simply had trimmed my hair that day…but she was crying so hard that she couldn’t hear me. Then she asks me, “Are you getting ready to die”? It took a while for me to get her calm enough for me to even have this discussion with her.

   But the truth was that I had never lost any hair due to cancer or the treatments…she had never seen me in that condition. But she had seen movies and TV shows where the cancer patients had lost their hair and eventually died. It was a lot for her beautiful heart to grasp. I went on to explain the different types of cancer, and told her that my cancer was caught early, and even though treatments made me sick…I was fine now. We had a very basic conversation about the disease, and it would be a few years before we had the detailed conversation, when her mind was more mature.

   The problem was that instead of talking to her about the disease when I was diagnosed, because I didn’t want her to worry about me, I just gave her very generic information. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time but, I was wrong. Because she felt that I didn’t tell her enough…she sought information elsewhere, which in this case was the television…where most individuals with cancer lose all their hair and then they die shortly after. Even at her young age, she knew that cancer was a frightening thing. So we had many conversations about it from that point there after. I gave her a new perspective on the illness. I told her I never had to live with cancer…it had to live with me. I didn’t have to fight cancer …it had to fight me. I explained to her that I had this body first and if it wanted to have it ….it would have to fight me for it. This approach gave her strength; she no longer looked at me as a victim. One day I heard her talking to a friend about my health, and she asked if I was a cancer survivor. And she opened her big brown eyes and said NO, my mom did not survive cancer…IT could not survive her!

   The cancer didn’t survive us…and she became my own personal army. I would have to endure several rounds of treatments before it actually went into remission for good…but finally it did. But not everyone has a happy ending, sadly.

   We must be aware of our bodies, get regular physicals, and do routine breast exams. We must become proactive in this fight…it has claimed far too many lives already. Until we have a cure, we must look for signs and use precautions…such as using strong sun screen when going into the sun…don’t ignore unusual moles or skin lesions, if you feel something that you didn’t remember being there before…no matter how miniscule…get it checked.

  Contact the American Cancer Society for support or ways that you can help in this cause…it is worth your time. I pray that no one else has to explain to anyone they love about their fight against cancer…but it isn’t going away by itself. Did you know that there is a different cancer awareness month almost every single month out of the year? This is just showing us how very serious this disease is. Over 40,000 people die from breast cancer every year in the United States that is both men and women…so get the facts. For more information please contact:

 

 http://www.cancer.org/

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