Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Aftermath

Lately I realize that my life has started to settle back into a normal beat, but that normalness leaves me feeling uneasy and restless. I have completed the “blow-up doll” phase of my reconstruction and I now await my next reconstruction surgery, scheduled for mid-January. So now finally after more than a year of treatment for breast cancer, I am left to deal with the “aftermath” of the last year of my life and to take an inventory of the things that “cancer” has taken from me. While I still mourn the loss of my breasts, as the pain of my surgery recedes in my memory I begin to adjust to the idea of life with reconstructed breasts. I am also growing found of my new size Ds. The loss of my hair was indeed temporary, and I am starting to feel confident in my new short hairdo. My body seems to be regaining its former strength, and while I still can’t run or bike yet, I am lifting weights twice a week and noticing my body respond quickly. The one thing I still dwell on a lot is the loss of my ability to have another baby. Yes, I know I have twelve frozen embryos which I will hopefully get to use one day. But that day seems like such a long way and away (4 years and six months to be exact), and there are no guarantees. What I am beginning to also realize is that this last year has taken a measurable toll on my mind and soul. I think the clinical term for what I am now experiencing is called “post traumatic stress syndrome”. The other day during drop-off at my son’s pre-school, I overheard other moms discussing the pros and cons of the latest music class offered at my son’s pre-school. While I know that I should care deeply about my son’s music education, I hear part of my brain screaming “who cares….1,500 people in America will dye today from cancer”. Last week in the corridors of my office I heard my colleagues discussing the results of the latest UT football game. Again, while I know how important football is in Texas, my mind screams, “why do we care so much about football when every three minutes a woman in this country will be told the devastating news that she has breast cancer”. So I find that I am having a hard time dealing with the every day normalness of life. I have no patients for the every day trivia of life, and many days I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. That weight comes from knowing that there is so much to be done to save others from the pain and trauma of cancer, yet my time to do something about it is so limited. This leaves me feeling alone, caught between wanting my life to return to normal and realizing that it will never be the same. Whether I like it or not my life has changed forever and I must accept the responsibility I now have as a survivor of cancer. So to make peace with myself, I try to carve-out a little piece of each day to do something to further the cause: sometimes I write or try to call a congressmen and women about the various pieces of legislation proposed for the funding of cancer research and cancer survivor programs; other days I spend time helping organize activities for the local group of breast cancer survivors which I helped co-found, the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls; then other days I simply reach out to my sister in Florida who is also dealing with the “aftermath” of breast cancer. I feel that if each day I can just do one thing to make things a little better for other cancer survivors, then it has been a good day. So I encourage everyone else to think about doing the same each day in your lives. Not everyone will have an opportunity to help a cancer survivor each day, but if everyone on this earth just spent a couple minutes each day to reach out and help someone in need this world would be such a better place.


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