It is ironic that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, breast cancer awareness month.
I was one of those people that was -- let's be honest -- annoyed by the pinkness of October. Pink ribbon this, breast cancer that. Blah, blah, blah, we're all aware of breast cancer. Or are we?
Apparently my awareness of a couple of key concepts regarding breast cancer was appallingly, life-threateningly low. I was aware that breast cancer exists. My awareness pretty much stopped there.
I thought that as long as I didn't have a family history of breast cancer, I had no real risk of developing it. Anyone who knows me, knows my maternal grandmother died only recently. She was days short of her 99th birthday. Her own mother died in her mid-nineties. I'm a smart girl, so my conclusion from these two "facts" was that I would certainly live to 100.
The thing is, only a small, small proportion of breast cancer patients actually do have a close family history of breast cancer. If I looked far enough, I would find at least one grandaunt with breast cancer. And my grandmother's longevity is no guarantee for me.
So, there I was, on our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, processing the very real prospect that I had metastacized breast cancer. Within a couple of weeks, a core needle biopsy confirmed that I have Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer which had spread to my liver and bones. Stage IV breast cancer.
Suddenly, I was aware that I hadn't checked my own breasts for lumps in a long, long time. Too long.
I hope that I can help improve breast cancer awareness among others, ideally before they are diagnosed with this disease. But from my own experience, I know that you have to have your eyes open. I've learned that I'm not invincable, nor immortal. Neither are you.
Let the awareness begin.