9 May 2010
Personal revelation, probably not something my kid wants to know about me, but I'm sharing anyway, because it's marginally relevant to the topic at hand.
My boobs have hurt for the last 25 years. It's not agonizing, and compared to Fibromyalgia and arthritis, it's just an annoying ache, but they still hurt. And there have been periods of some significant pain. Enough to seek medical treatment that didn't work: estrogen blockers, androgens, the pill. I've learned to live with it, always with the message in the back of my head, something repeated to me often: breast cancer doesn't usually hurt.
I've always taken some comfort in that, the idea that yeah, this is annoying, but the Big C doesn't typically cause pain when it's in the breasts, at least not at first. Yes, there are some forms of it that do, but typically...not.
That doesn't mean the what-if isn't hovering in the background.
I've known many women who have gone through the agony of breast cancer; from the anguish of the initial diagnosis, through treatment, surgery, more treatment, it's a roller coaster of constant emotional and physical pain. The unfairness of it all; the uncertainty of it all; the stripping of femininity that can come with mastectomy, with chemotherapy.
And the most unfair of all, when treatment doesn't work.
When I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1997 I sought out information about it online, and found a newsgroup filled with people who shared the pain. One of those people was Anne Burkinshaw; we became part of an email ring and became friends. We shared a birthday, albeit a few years apart. When he couldn't find it in North Dakota, she sent the Spouse Thingy real English Breakfast tea. We shared a love of convertibles.
About six months before I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And right about the same time I got the good news about my tumor--it wasn't cancer and probably wouldn't ever return--she was given the all clear.
She'd beaten breast cancer down, and won.
Until she didn't.
In 2002, she was going to be fine; she was going to live.
In 2005, she was gone.
She was only 50 years old.
Anne Burkinshaw had so much to live for. She had a family that loved her like crazy; her sons were grown and getting married, starting families. She looked forward to retirement with her husband Dave, and to being a grandmother. She'd gotten her coveted convertible, and just wanted beautiful days filled with enough sunshine to ride with the top down.
She wanted to live.
She died when she was 50; I'll be 49 on my next birthday.
Yesterday, in a comment on Max's blog, I was invited to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure in San Francisco on October 1-3 as part of a team. I was filled with two things when I read the comment: an immediate sense of wanting to do this, and pure terror.
I flipped back and forth about it all night and most of today. Walking has not been my friend for a very long time. It hurts. Between FMS, myofascial pain, and arthritis, it just hurts.
What hurts more is the idea that there are more women like Anne out there, women who want nothing more than to live, and who won't.
So I'm going to suck it up and train for it. On October first I will be there for the start of the Susan G. Komen walk in San Francisco, and I'll give it everything I can.
I'll walk for Anne, and for all my other friends who have battled breast cancer.
Here's the thing about walking for things like this. They require money. I have a goal of $2300, and I'm determined to make it.
Most of the fund raising will be done through Max's blog; over the next couple of months I'm hoping to come up with some fun ideas, and some worthy prizes. But I am not opposed to outright donations.
I'm easy that way.
Link is in the right sidebar.
My boobs thank you in advance for your support.