Monday, October 25, 2010

Be A Warrior, Not a Wimp. Take Charge.


This is Victoria's Secret Wear Everywhere PINK Bra. I don't own one. If I did, I wouldn't be writing this post.

Before Breast Cancer Awareness months slips by, some words: I had a double mastectomy October 22, 2008. It's a date you don't forget. I was diagnosed stage two. I had two tiny spots in the right breast and one whopping big lump in the left. After the operation and going through all the Lets-make-sure-we-got-it-all treatments, I'm fine. I didn't get a reconstruction on the table as they like to do, because I was too thin--flattering words to my ears after all my careful eating, but a state of being that complicated the reconstruction process. Reconstruction would have required eight months of painful grafts, stuff and stretch procedures to build the girls back up. So flatter than Twiggy, (an unattractive, anorexic looking but very popular fashion model of the 60's), I chose to be. Now I choose to campaign for womens health.

LADIES GET A MAMMOGRAM if you're forty or over. You're squished by that machine some sadistic guy invented for just a split second. You can bear it; we're the stronger sex. It's a hundred times easier than any of the treatments they put you through if you get the disease and a breeze compared to the prep for a colonoscopy.

And if your breast tissue is dense, as mine was my whole life, or if your mom, grandmoms, aunts or any blood relatives had BC, or if you were adopted and don't have a clue of your medical background ( that's me again) ask for an ultrasound too--demand one if you have to. I'd been having mammograms since I was nineteen. I was familiar with the technology but knew zilch about ultrasounds. Then I learned the hard way that there's a ten percent chance the mammogram will fail to catch abnormalities. Mine did.

I had a false negative. I knew I had a lump, but it rolled around so it could just have been another cyst that do come and go when you have dense tissue. My x-ray was clean. Then a couple of months later the breast collapsed and I learned about ultrasounds, breast MRIs and biopsies.

Be a demanding bitch when it comes to taking care of your breasts. GET A MAMMOGRAM. Call you nearest hospital with a Cancer Center and make an appointment. I said hospital with cancer center. Skip the imaging clinics. They are not fully prepared to act immediately on your behalf. I went to one that was convenient to my house. Screw convenience. Drive the extra miles where they have all the diagnostic equipment to check you out thoroughly.



Out of the woods, I went back to my art seriously last January because my life had been threatened. I dusted off the talent that I flippantly left on the back burner for years. Now I'm pushing it as far as it will go for myself and my family. Breast cancer scared the shite out of me. When something like that bites you in the ass and you're vulnerability hits you in the gut, you never want to waste another minute. Everything becomes a joy to be celebrated even when the drawing turns out crappy and you wonder what were you thinking? I'm thinking, I'm lucky. So far so good. I'm a survivor of a year and a half and counting. You make sure you're a survivor too without going through the tsoris.

GET A MAMMOGRAM. GET AN ULTRASOUND IF HISTORY DICTATES. TAKE CHARGE. BE A WARRIOR, NOT A WIMP.

8 comments:

  1. I remember when they had me take mammo after mammo for about a month..week after week.. I had density and I was scared... at the time they didn't know what it was, then the xrays must of gotten into the hands of someone who realized the density was just me... i've been having mammos since the age of 40...
    btw that drawing reminds me of sticks of chocolate in white icing... love it.

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  2. Dear Linda,
    Thank you for sharing your pain. I'll keep all your say in my mind and heart. I meet many people with cancer and leukemia during a treatment of the leg at hospital. My sketches are popular among patients and staff. Like you do, I feel a great joy and awe about life...
    Kind regards, Sadami

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  3. I don't know about chocolate sticks. That was what Summer Woods looked like when my anger came out towards the photo I was using. I took the photo of a lovely summer scene in 2009 no doubt thrilled I was done with all that. When painting it this year however,my anger towards the whole situation showed up and I took it out on the painting. The painting doesn't look like this anymore. I painted over it. I shouldn't have. It was powerful.
    Don't hesitate asking for an ultrasound if you have doubts. Dense breast tissue was a bitch. I always suspected it might be trouble one day.

    Sadami, Joy of life is the one good thing living through such adversity gives us--even when our computers suddenly quit and the cat spills ink on a drawing we've worked on for hours.

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  4. Thanks for this post Linda. And thank you for being a strong woman, thank you.

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  5. From the comments I got via e-mail, I think I should make it perfectly clear that the perfect endowments pictured in the Victoria's Secret pink bra belong to a perfectly stacked gal who models her treasures for that company. I took the picture from their on-line catalogue. The bra sells for twenty bucks I think--I don't know the price of the boobs. Check it out:http://www.victoriassecret.com/pink?cm_mmc=Google-_-Affiliated%20Brands%20Exact_VS%20Pink%20General-_-Exact-_-victoria's%20secret%20pink

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  6. Dear Linda,
    ...well, I do not have cancer, but share time with patients. My left leg is not easy, but it led me to art. Today, I'm very optimistic!
    http://www.artsawards.com.au/gallery/default.asp?ContentID=joyful-song-of-life
    "Live simply.
    Love passionately.
    Care deeply. Speak kindly.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
    It's about learning to dance in the rain."
    ...I found that say at hospital's volunteer room. It becomes my motto.
    Cheers, wink, wink, Sadami

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  7. It's imperative for all of us to learn to dance in the rain--for as we all know "in every life some rain will fall." But it's unfortunate many of us with so much to celebrate don't learn to dance till it's pouring. After cancer, the sun's out full time at my house.

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