Awareness. It was a word that meant very little to me this time last year, when I was just a woman who had experienced the pain of losing loved ones to cancer, but didn’t know first hand what it was like. It was just a word I spoke about in October, while wearing pink and donating money to Susan G Komen. I rooted for the women fighting the disease. I sat with them and commiserated while they were feeling down. But I didn’t understand. Because you cannot understand unless you go through it yourself. You can’t even begin to imagine the level of sadness you’ll stoop to. You can’t fathom just how handicap, how woman-less this disease makes you feel. It’s something you would only understand if your breasts were taken from you, if your will to live was continuously tested as you went through these excruciating chemotherapy treatments. Your life and the way you live it is something you take for granted, even when you think you don’t, until one day you wake up with so much pain radiating through your bones, that you can’t even get out of bed to look at, let alone dress your children. It’s something I hope none of you ever have to experience, because I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Today awareness has a different meaning to me. Today it means early detection. It means possibly preventing you from going through everything I’ve been through. Today it means going to the doctor and getting checked so that you won’t be the one not able to do things for your children, and you won’t be the one feeling this helpless. Awareness is something I will preach about as long as I live because I was lucky to find a lump and take action as soon as I did. I didn’t cower, I didn’t hesitate, and I hope you don’t either. Your life depends on it. Your loved ones depend on it. So what I say to you, woman who was in my place this time last year, undetected and living life the way it was meant to be lived, is get checked regularly. And what I say to you, woman who is in the position I’m in this year, diagnosed and fighting not only cancer, but your inner demons, is: you’re stronger than you know. You’re braver than you think. Keep going, and when you feel like you are drowning in the darkness that this experience brings, know that this too shall pass.
We are fighters. We are warriors. We are survivors. We are women. We don’t need breasts or hair to remind us of that, because we were all born without that, and still we evolved. And still, we stayed strong. And now, we lead. Please get checked, ladies. I love you all.