Saturday is the day of the local Race for the Cure. Last year was my first year participating in this event, and I have to say, it was a good time. When I did it last year, I was still mostly bald from chemo. When I did it last year, it was the weekend before my mastectomy—in fact, I had the mastectomy date bumped out just so I could attend. When I did it last year, I had only had two surgeries. When I did it last year, I was another month away from beginning radiation.
I didn’t participate in the survivor activities. Didn’t go to the breakfast. Skipped the survivor parade. At the time, it just all felt really weird to me. I was in the middle of my various treatments, and I didn’t feel like I’d survived much of anything yet. Several of my survivor friends asked me, “Hey, where were you?” when they saw me after the parade, and I told them I’d just been hangin’ with the fam. I was way more comfortable watching the parade than I’d had been walking in it.
I’ve now done the radiation. I’ve had three more surgeries. I’ve been cut, and fried, and poisoned so much that people long ago got bored with my drama and stopped sending cards. (Probably couldn’t afford to, what with the price of postage these days.) My hair is long enough that if you didn’t know, you’d never know. I suppose I’m probably an official survivor now, but I still don’t want to do the parade.
This time last year, I thought maybe I’d feel differently the next time around. I don’t. I know that it’s supposed to be a celebration of survival, but to me, it still feels like “Woo hoo! I’ve got the cancer!” You know, I’m not special because I’ve had to go through this crap. I’m just me. And I’ve gone through some crap. That’s all. And I don’t like the squirmy feeling I get inside when it seems that people are admiring me for simply living. “Look at YOU! We thought you were gonna die, and here you are breathing and everything!”
That’s not to say that I want to be all in the closet with my cancer experience or anything. Obviously, that’s not the case. If nothing else, I’d wear my pink shirt just because I think people need to see that there are a whole lot of young survivors. (Isn’t it cute how I’ve somehow convinced myself that I’m still young?) Maybe one of these days that will result in some better options for post-mastectomy garments. The kind that say “Grrr!” instead of the kind that say “Grandma!”
So, I’ll be at the Race, but I’ll pass on the survivor celebration. I celebrate every day by living a normal life.
p.s. Tomorrow is October 1, the official start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (What? Breast cancer? Who ever heard of breast cancer?) Check in to see the first of my readers’ favorite pink ribbon products.