“Breast Cancer Connections: My personal relationship with the month of October”
by Shelly Straub
October is the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October is also my anniversary month. The month I found my lump, the month I got my first mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy and the month I heard the words “you have cancer.”
Once you become a member of the ‘pink ribbon club’, it’s easy to recognize how much money is wrapped up in everything and anything that sports this logo. And it is strewn all over social media throughout the month, not to mention all the in-store displays. Some people get crazy with their negative opinions about the so-called corporate capitalizing that goes on. And while the opinions may be true or may be false, that’s not the point here. For me, I see it for what it is – AWARENESS. If companies want to make money on it and people want to spend money on it – well then I guess that’s good for the economy… it’s also good for awareness.
In late October 2013, I was on a family camping trip and noticed that when I slept on my right side it sent a pain through my chest. Although I blamed the uncomfortable cabin cots, something didn’t sit right in my gut. My mind said nothing was wrong but trusting my intuition (which lies in my gut) is sometimes more important that what my brain tries to tell me. The brain, being so darn intelligent – go figure – was saving me from the fear of thinking I may have something like ‘breast cancer.’ My brain let me know that neither my mom nor my grandmother had any breast cancer so I had nothing to worry about.
When I arrived home from our very relaxing unplugged camping vacation – I was catching up with what I had missed on social channels when a breast cancer awareness post popped up and said something to the effect of “if you notice any changes in your breasts, come in for your free mammogram during the month of October.” I stopped in my tracks and the brain started working together with the gut and I remember thinking I had 3 strikes against me. 1. Pain in my right side. 2. My right breast had a dimpling that had been there for about 6 months or more but I assumed it was part of the aging process. 3. I turned 40 years old in August of this year. 3 strikes and you’re out isn’t just for baseball.
If it weren’t for the AWARENESS postings in October, I may not have gone in for my mammogram. I may not have learned that I have breast cancer. I may not have had my tumor removed. I may not have had the chemo and the radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells in my body. And I may not have lived to see BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH come around the following year.
During October, I will spread awareness and a ton of gratitude for more reasons than I can count!
Shelly Straub is a breast cancer survivor. She is the founder of www.ATaleof2Boobies.com and has self published the book “One Year With Cancer.” She is also founder and President of the non-profit organization Hope Chest for Chartiy.
Follow Shelly on twitter @ataleof2boobies or find Hope Chest for Charity on facebook at www.facebook.com/CNYHopeChest