Shared by Shawn Huddy ~ Miss December 2014
When a person gets a diagnosis of a medical condition that is quite possibly life threatening, that person doesn’t often find the silver lining immediately. I know this because I have been there – with breast cancer.
It’s odd because I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch or dinner 3 days ago – but I can tell you, in great detail, about the phone call I received in which my surgeon told me I had breast cancer. I can tell you what time it was. What day it was and what day of the week. Where I was leaving when I got in my car. Where I pulled my car over for her to deliver the news. The exact order of the phone calls I made immediately after. Who’s house I drove to – to fall completely apart and cry and ask questions of people who love me, but who had no answers for me.
In that same odd vein, I cannot tell you, with many specifics, about my first meeting with my Oncologist. Those were possibly some of the most important minutes of my adult life and they are fuzzy. But I do remember numbers like 50% chance or recurrence with only chemo; 28% chance of recurrence with chemo and bi-lateral mastectomy; 14% chance with chemo, bi-lateral mastectomy, and radiation. I remember those percentages because my Oncologist wrote them on the dry erase board for me. I calculated them up forward and reverse. I made my decision – “All of the above, Doc. Please save my life and let me watch my little girl grow up”.
The reason I am writing these things on this blog is to make a point about Beyond Boobs! My hunch is that if you asked the breast cancer survivors you know about when they got the news – I bet most of them will be able to tell you a great deal about that event. And I bet a lot of those same survivors might be sketchy on the details of their first Oncologist visit, and they probably had someone else there to hear and ask questions for them in case they got overwhelmed.
A lot of people in our lives have sympathy for us if we are diagnosed with any life threatening illness. They care about us and they understand our suffering and they want to stop it and fix it. Beyond Boobs! Is a support group designed for pre-menopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. So, when you go to a Beyond Boobs! meeting you are met with empathy. The “boobers” at these meetings have mutually experienced breast cancer and the emotions, the physical challenges and changes, and the thoughts and questions that come with it. CLIFF NOTES: THEY GET IT!!!!
I tried one support group prior to my first chemo infusion and, although the group members were kind and supportive and helpful, I didn’t feel better when I left the meeting. . . . I felt worse. I decided to write off support groups altogether. Then a friend referred me to another friend who was in Beyond Boobs! I went to my first support group meeting with BB! in December of 2010. This time it spoke to me, in fact it had “Shawn Huddy” written all over it . . . in at least seven different languages!! I was hooked.
What happens when Beyond Boobs! Hooks you???
Well, that silver lining I mentioned in the very beginning of this blog . . . it comes at you from all directions. That empathy and bond and desire to help happens and all of the “boobers” take you under their wing and make sure you know about the light on the other side. Their love is so apparent in each event, committee meeting, support group meeting, impromptu lunch or drink after work. BB! has become an extension of my family and social circle. We know each other’s kids, significant others, parents, friends, etc.
It’s a crappy club to be part of because of the whole “cancer” thing, but I have met some of the most amazing, diverse, strong, supportive, intelligent, knowledge seeking, loving, funny, spunky, spirited, and fun people of my life thru Beyond Boobs! They are a living, breathing, encompassing, evolving silver lining. How could you NOT get hooked on Beyond Boobs!We give lots of hugs. We hand each other tissues for lots of tears. We share lots of laughs. We love and extend our hands and hearts to each other.
Then before you know it – we are all advocates and lobbyists and voices to be heard. We create a work force at fund raisers. We call on our connections for hook ups and donations. We share potential life saving information with one another and thru social networks. We post encouraging messages on Facebook and within the BB! pages. We apply to be dancers, fashion models, calendar girls.
Yep, I got to be in the 2014 Beyond Boobs! Calendar for Life (and breast health manual). I’m Miss December. It’s not the picture I initially thought was fitting of me – because even though I like to talk like I’m sassy and tough, I’m really just a kitten. In the picture I am punching glass and the glass is cracking and about to shatter all around me. My image has gotten a lot of attention for being powerful and empowering. So, I am starting to really like my picture and to identify with my inner bad-ass.
Being chosen to represent Beyond Boobs! In the 2014 calendar was a huge honor and I am so proud and pleased to be part of it. When I went thru the physical changes of losing my breasts and hair there was nothing powerful about me. I was completely self conscious. I felt unattractive, fearful, unworthy, and unwilling to stand up for myself. Beyond Boobs! helped to give me back my mojo, my worth, my ability to question things about my world that were unacceptable to me and to feel confident enough to change them. It’s been a beautiful lesson for my daughter, as well. Her mama ain’t raising no wallflower, here.
I’m still a work in progress and still need to make improvements in my life but I am finding the inner strength to accomplish the tasks at hand. I may not be a total bad-ass, but I did get to play one in the Beyond Boobs! Calendar for Life 2014!