October – Pink Ribbons & Breasts
Breast cancer. Another millstone around the already heavy load a woman bears. Self exams, mammograms and endless awareness but does it truly hit? When did you last grope your breasts in order to find a lump or the possibility of one? From that Axillary Spencarian tail to the tips and all around? Did you check? No. Coz you don’t think you have it and of course, life you know. It’s a bitch. No one has time for these things.
I lost my aunt to metastatic breast cancer 7 years ago. And I can assure you it is hell to watch someone you love die, knowing that early detection could have saved them but didn’t coz they were too. Fucking. Scared. To. Accept that they had cancer.
That is really what it was. Fear & Denial. She had breast cancer about 10 years previously. And even then, she didn’t go for treatment till it was very late. But age was on her side. And so once she was in remission, she would know, as do all survivors of cancer, that you are never 100% cured – you gotta keep checking. Coz the frigging thing loves to return.
And like that, it did. Metastatised into her stomach. And she knew. She jolly well knew. We told her to go check. Go see what is wrong.
“Oh I ate too much rich food. That’s why I threw up”
“No, it’s just indigestion. I am fine”
These were the lines of constant denial despite our many questions. If the food was too rich, we would be puking too. If it was indigestion, why does it happen all the time?
But no. It’s hard to accept things like cancer. Especially for people who take care of their health – who actually put in the effort to eat healthy, wholesome foods, to exercise regularly and to be happy. When you put in this effort, it’s like your body lets you down. And that is not easy to accept.
And so her body gave out on her and she was gone at 62. She would have easily lived another 10 years had she addressed it sooner.
The other aspect is also fear, the fear of the unknown is never pleasant. And so, in this month of breast groping and self examination – how many of us are truly willing to face something like cancer? Are we ready to accept something that can be so debilitating and life changing? It’s not easy – to fight your own body.
And where in this awareness mania, do people actually address that fear & denial of cancer? In all honesty, my family is riddled with cancer, and I hope I never suffer with the misery. I would rather die than suffer like that. It’s hell.
And it starts with the mind. A lot of cancers are linked to being psychosomatic – they physically manifest mental unhappiness. And how many of us are truly taking care of our minds?
It’s not just about meditation, yoga, exercise and eating healthy. It’s also addressing the demons of our childhoods and past trauma. Those are not easy to accept and address either.
So here’s to all of you reading this – I hope you grope yourself today looking for what you might find and that if you do find something, you find the courage to believe that you can see it through, whatever that outcome may be.