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The Gift That Cannot Be Returned - Breast Cancer
Recently, I was given a gift that I do not want. We all get presents from time to time that we do not like,however, this particular one really stunk. I immediately thought about returning it, but unfortunately, I don't know how it was acquired.
I don't even know for sure, who gave it to me. It isn't the kind of gift I would have chosen for myself, or for that matter anyone else. Therefore, re-gifting, selling it, or donating it -- all certainly weren't options.
In fact, I was quite surprised to receive this gift. I had absolutely no reason to ever believe that I would be a recipient of such a life-changing present. If someone had asked me before it arrived, I would have laughed and gave them a list of all the reasons, I personally, would never get such a reward.
I am not the kind of woman given to outward expressions of great emotion, yet upon receiving this gift, I cried. At first, I cried alone because I was so shocked that sharing that present with my family and friends, seemed a daunting task. Later, I would cry again, this time aloud, when I did get around to informing them of the gift. You see, this gift also touches them in a most heartfelt way.
Being a life-long learner and somewhat of a information geek, I immediately set out on a quest to learn everything I could about my souvenir. Naturally, I made a thorough online search and read everything I could about this object of my dismay. I didn't stop there, I interviewed several experts on the topic. Surely, someone knew what I should do about my gift and how best to dispose of it.
Not A One Of a Kind Gift
I was surprised to learn that I wasn't the first woman who wanted to give this gift back. Apparently, in this year alone, 260,229 other women have been chosen to receive a similar endowment. That figure was staggering -- that's one in every eight women.
I'm sure that just like me, they've all heard about this award, but they didn't believe they were to join the ranks of the chosen few. To not be alone with this dilemma didn't make me feel much better -- just a little sad.
I was encouraged to learn that eighty percent of women who receive this gift, do eventually manage to get rid of it. However, I was disheartened to learn that 40,800 women will take this gift to their graves. I am determined to not be one of them.
Like the 1984 movie, The Gremlins -- I was shocked to discover my present was not one, but a multitude of many gifts, that sprang from one entity inside that one box.
Unlike Mogwai's inexperienced owner, I didn't have to spill water on it, not feed it after midnight, or keep it away from bright lights -- it was already been hiding there, waiting for discovery -- so it could unleash it‘s mayhem upon our lives.
I didn't see the tag that came on the outside, before I started unwrapping it.
"Not what you wanted. Not what you asked for, nor what you deserve. You weren't supposed to get this -- but I made you strong enough to deal with it. How you view this gift, is entirely your choice."
The Gifts Within
Inside the box was something I'd heard of, but didn't personally know much about -- breast cancer. Breast cancer isn't even remotely a gift.
However, the things that come with it, are the real present or presents -- all those other little gifts you never truly knew or fully appreciated --they are what you can choose to embrace. Here's what I know:
There are a large number of boxes within the breast cancer box, the smallest boxes, most limiting boxes, are sometimes very powerful:
- Disfigurement worries
- Emotion stress
- Financial adjustments
- Lifestyle adjustments
- Not feeling whole
- Physical pain
- The very real knowledge that you could lose your life, sooner than you anticipated
- Uncertainty about the future
Well, those are all very unwanted gifts, certainly the ones you want to give back. There is no way you're keeping them! This is how we all feel, once we've been given a breast cancer diagnosis. You have to remind yourself that most of these are temporary things you have to go through and come to terms with, as you determine your best options for breast cancer treatment.
When Pink Is Just A Color Again!
The real gifts, the ones you want to keep from your gift box of breast cancer, may not be evident at first. They are the bigger boxes within the breast cancer box -- boxes that are lined in silver and gold. Gifts that will last you an eternity. These little treasures are far bigger than the disease itself. These are the genuine presents that you want to keep!
Here is my list of breast cancer keepers:
- Getting serious about my the quality of what I write and a whole host of other things.
- Remembering --there is no tomorrow -- only today!
- Getting "real" about eating healthy and losing weight.
- Getting "real" about daily exercise.
- Stopped me from holding others at arms length, in my life-long futile effort to not ever get hurt.
- Gave me a better awareness of all the good that life holds.
- Renewed my appetite for living.
- Makes me get off my butt and embrace every day.
- Makes me look at life in an entirely different way.
- Made me stronger and more determined.
- It gave me a better understanding of myself, and the ones I love.
- Made me know, with illuminating clarity, who in my life truly cares about me.
- Allowed me to see the good in the kindness of strangers, who have become new friends
- Has truly been a wake-up call, sadly one I really needed.
- Has given me an enthusiasm for leaving no crumbs in my life, no unfinished business.
Famous Breast Cancer Survivors!
While I don't have to be gracious about receiving parts of this unwanted gift, that may one day take my life, I do have a choice. Every breast cancer patient has a choice in how you receive this diagnosis and how you deal with it.
As my list of the breast cancer gift "keepers" grows -- I am tremendously aware that what gifts I choose to keep from this box, make all the difference in the world. I can't wait to see the gifts still waiting to be unopened -- that's my choice!
Breast Cancer - Hope
Reported Gifts Others Have Received
My gift was learning to ask myself if an activity was going to positively add to my life. Its amazing how caught you can feel from those obligations that you take on simply because you never learned to say no
Eligibility For Receiving the Gift
We are all eligible for receiving the gift we don't want, even the men in our lives can get it. However, as women, every one of us has a certain amount of risk of getting breast cancer -- just because we are women. I was one of those women who smugly thought, "Well, that's one thing I'll never have to worry about getting."
I had none of the known added risk factors. Lots of longevity in my family, no one on either side ever died from cancer, never smoked, etc. I only slightly worried about getting cancer, if at all. I did the monthly self-exams for the most part. I had a mammogram when I turned forty, but after that only had them occasionally. The risk assessment test online at Breastcancer.org confirmed my odds to being only 1.2% of getting this cancerous gift. This just wasn't going to happen to me, but it did.
In fact, when I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, I narrowly almost didn't have that mammogram -- almost declining it because in my mind, it was a waste of time. I was far too busy to take the time to go through the annoyance of being plumpted, poked, and prodded by a cold and heartless squeeze machine. It was only because I didn't think faster than the doctor who had already routinely set up the exam that I came to keep the appointment.
When I got the call from the very apologetic doctor, it was one of those surreal moments, when you can't believe what you are hearing. I felt absolutely fine. I have no symptoms, not even a lump you can find. I still feel perfectly good, probably better than I have felt in years, just simply because I take better care of myself than in the past. It took quite awhile to digest the reality of the fact that this could be happening to me.
I'm one of the lucky ones, the disease is in it's early stage, it's small, it has all the positive receptors. If you got to pick your gift and it had to be breast cancer -- I am one of the lucky ones. Soon, I will have a simple mastectomy, and if my good luck continues, that will be all (provided the lymph node markers are what the physician expects them to be).
If I could tell each of you reading this anything, outside of looking at this disease or any other -- as hurdles to overcome, rather than defeats or things to embrace and become better for facing -- it would be this:
"Don't procrastinate about getting routine screenings for diseases you do not have to die from."