Monday, October 1, 2012

Scars by Mary E. Carpenter

Today begins breast cancer awareness month, so I would like to share with you something that a very dear friend wrote. I couldn't say it any better myself. Thank you Mama Mary for allowing me to share this here. xoxo

Scars © Mary E. Carpenter

Walking down the street, no one would know that I am the face of breast cancer. It is not obvious that I have been bald twice, stuck with needles too numerous to count, had multiple cancer killing toxins coursing through my veins, become the “chubby little woman” as Britt referred to me . . . from steroids to prevent life threatening reactions to those toxins, spent hours vomiting in bathrooms, bushes, buckets or wherever I could find a place because I intended to continue living my life, been injected with radioactive glucose, dye, blood, and had so many x-rays and scans that I’m surprised I do not glow in the dark even though Bayley thinks it would be cool. It is not obvious to those that pass me in the aisles at the grocery store, parents that greet me in my children’s classrooms or on the soccer field, or co-workers that greet me in the hall as we pass one another during the course of our workday. The scars beneath my clothes from seven surgeries that were not choice, but choosing life, are not evident to the outside world.

But I am the face of breast cancer. I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, a friend. I am every woman. I am not a case of breast cancer or a scar. I am the 1 in 8 American women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. If I lived in Europe, I would be the 1 in 10 that is diagnosed with breast cancer before age 80. I am 1 of the 11,100 young women under the age of 40 in the United States that was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. I am one of the many young women that heard these words from a doctor . . . “You are too young for breast cancer.”

I wake up every day and see the scars that are now as much a part of my body as my breasts ever were. I shower, I put on lotion, and I cover my scars with clothes and go out into the world. I am just a healthy woman going about the business of my day. I am just a healthy, young mom out with her children. But the scars are always there waiting to be heard. They want the opportunity to say, “I am not ashamed. I am not embarrassed. I am only a scar.Look at me and be aware. Look at me and know you can save second base. Look at me and know that breast self examination is worth it because no one knows your body like you. Look at me and schedule your mammogram. Look at me and know your family health history. Look at me and know that I am 1 of the 87% of five year survivors alive today. Look at me and don’t be afraid, be aware.”

Those scars roar for awareness every day and every month, not just October. Remember them and share them with the men and women in your lives because they know awareness can do more than just save second base, it can save lives. They are here to speak for the 13% whose scars were silenced by breast cancer.

Resources noted below. (I do recommend finding grassroots organizations in your own city, state, county, or region for help with things such as groceries, utilities, rent, childcare, etc. Some of the larger organizations will sometimes direct you to those resources, but oftentimes, you have to find them on your own.)


Breast Self Examination

Young Survival Coalition (for women diagnosed under 45)

Breast Cancer Resources - United States:

Living Beyond Breast Cancer Susan G. Komen (I'd recommend checking with local affiliates.) American Cancer Society

One on One Guidance and Support: Imerman Angels

Breast Cancer Resources - Europe: Europa Donna Cancer Resource Center (22+ languages available) Cancerworld

Breast Cancer Resources - Germany: Komen Deutschland Breast Cancer/Action Germany Brustkrebs Info

Breast Cancer Support Groups and Organizations - Worldwide: Mentor


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