Same person, different day…or so I thought.
October has brought me a number of experiences I never could have imagined as I advocate for breast cancer awareness. This past week I recorded a radio segment with Anna Maria on 92.9 FM in Nashville, sharing my breast cancer journey and encouraging the importance of health screenings. I had never been in a radio studio before and found the experience to be somewhat surreal and quite fun once I got past my nerves. My work with the American Cancer Society (ACS) has shown me how much work it takes to spread awareness and raise money for a disease that will affect so many of us. We must work diligently to market cancer awareness, just like a product, it has to be in your face and relatable in order for us to pay attention. I can only hope that the men and women who hear the interview can relate to my story and take action to stand up for their health, conduct a self-exam or schedule their annual exam.
This week I also attended a Tennessee Titans game with the ACS as a survivor. We decorated ourselves in pink and made our way onto the field ahead of the game as a part of a crew celebrating the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign. I met other survivors and many breast cancer supporters and we shared our stories and experiences. After years of being a sports fan, never would I have thought I would have been that girl on the field during the pink-out for breast cancer. But here I was, less than a year out from my last Titans game living in a new reality. Just after the game began I realized the last time I had been in that stadium was the week after I found my lump and a day before my first appointment which led to my diagnosis. There was no way I could have known what was to come and how my life would change, I was just a girl enjoying football in the sun. Now I was in the stands, enjoying the rain (something I would not have previously done), sitting with an entirely new perspective on life.
I was actually scheduled to be out of town this weekend, visiting my grandparents, but delayed the trip for a couple of weeks so I could rest after a long work week. A year ago I never would have delayed a trip, I would have pushed by body and likely gotten sick or have been extremely tired. The progress of listening to my body and slowing down is one of my biggest achievements in this process. I took a physical and mental break, just long enough to recharge and prevent my body from breaking down. If you can learn to listen to your body just think of what better shape you would be in! I surely have a long way to go, and this one decision was a step in the right direction.
In looking back on these recent decisions and experiences I am beginning to question whether I am the same person or if I truly have had significant changes as a result of cancer. When I set out to record and share my experience and get to writing I thought I was doing just that, recording a diagnosis and a journey with cancer. Now I feel writing and sharing has helped me to learn and reflect on how my life has been transformed. I was a happy person before and I am happy now, it is just a different level of happiness- it comes from appreciation and love of each of life’s moments. With this shift I believe I have started a transformation and therefore I am not the same girl who sat in the stadium last year, I am better, more seasoned and a part of a club for which I will be forever in admiration – survivors.