Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Your Blog: Christy

One of the things that I love about blogging is that it's this perfect opportunity to share important stories with others.  I've been able to talk about my survival story and about parenting a bully.  Friends have guest posted about being a parent of a child with autism, escaping an abusive spouse, overcoming drug addiction.  I want this platform to be a place where we can share our stories and our journeys and inspire others. 

So I'm going to start an ongoing series called "It's Your Blog."  It basically just means that this space is yours.  If you have a story you would like to share, use the form to the right to contact me by email.  Or contact me in any of the ways you can (Facebook, Twitter, email, face to face, whatever).  I can help you write it, I can help you edit it, most of all, I can give your story a voice and an audience.  Need to be anonymous?  I can work with that, too.

Today's blog is from Christy.  She's someone I met years ago through Indy Moms.  We've stayed connected on Facebook.  She's an amazing and compassionate woman.  She owns a laundromat in a small town and when there was flooding, she provided laundry service for people who needed it.  She has a lot of life stories and experience that we can learn from - but this is an important one that she wanted to share.

I can breathe...

Literally for 2 months I have had a feeling I was going to suffocate.

Today, I am going to share a story with you and if you read it in its entirety, thank you. I promised myself and God 2 months ago that I would share this. If this saves even one person’s life, changes one mind or eases one's mind and moves them in the right direction, then my story was worth it.

A couple of months ago, I realized that I had been living a lie for the past 7 years. October came and everywhere I looked, I saw pink. Pink ribbons, pink shirts, pink socks, pink banners... the world turns pink in October. And as I do every year, and have done since my Breast Cancer diagnosis 13 years ago, I wear my pink ribbons, I tell my story, and most importantly I tell woman how important it is to get your mammograms. "Early detection can save your life, it saved mine" is what I have said over and over, year after year.

And it's true.

This is where the lie comes in, the lie, my lie, is that I had actually not had a mammogram in 7 years.

YES, you just read that correctly, for 7 years I have avoided the test that I claim will save your life. I just stopped going one year. Why? I got busy, I have been taking care of others, I forgot, I just didn't want to go, I just didn't want to know, I just... didn't go. So there I sat, at yet another "pink event", standing up and smiling as they recognize the survivors, living my little lie. But this time it was different, I broke, I broke this bond that I had made with myself and I approached the table with pink pens, pink balloons and even a cheerful lady wearing pink who was scheduling mammograms.

At that moment, that very second, I broke.

I made an appointment and I told myself that I had to do it, I had to step out of this zone I had sunk into and I HAD to keep this appointment. The best way to commit to something so fragile, something that you know you can "always cancel" is to confess the truth to your best friend and then make her promise you that she will in no way let you cancel. I did just that. That evening I cried as I sent the text to Melissa. I made her promise me that no matter what, I would make that appointment. She called me, stalked me, drove me insane, and it worked, I made it to that appointment.

On my lunch break, I drove myself there, registered, changed into the comfy robe, and I was on my way to putting this feat behind me.

Two hours later I was devastated to find out that 4 lumps had been found in my left breast. I wanted to run, I wanted to break the promise, I wanted to go back to not knowing...I wanted to go back to the lie.

The fear set in, the feeling that your body is on fire, has been with me since that October day. Of course I instantly thought to myself that no one needed to know, in particular our kids and my parents. They would be devastated. I chose wisely who I would tell. Some were obviously going to have to know- Jade, Melissa, my employer, and a handful of friends that were sworn to secrecy. I have spent sleepless nights wondering if this was my last Thanksgiving, my last Christmas, would I really make it to Florida for Spring Break, all of the questions that go through your mind when you face Cancer.

A lot of raw emotions that came back from 13 years ago.

But one feeling kept sneaking up on me, the one that haunted me in my sleep, that caught me in the middle of a giggle with the kids, the one that stopped me in my tracks, and the one that caused me to make crazy choices about work, life, and in general...

WHY DID I WAIT 7 YEARS?? It was like playing Russian Roulette with my life. Would these 4 lumps have been seen earlier? Of course. Did I just seal my own fate? Possibly. Since that day I have spent a lot of time thinking, praying, crying, and being angry at myself. I also spent a lot of time having scans, tests, aspirations, biopsies and finally surgery. Again, only a handful of people knew, per my wish. Not being able to talk to my mom and dad was probably the hardest. I hated not telling them, but I hated more the fact that this would only cause them heartache and fear, so I did the selfish thing, I kept it from them. I finally told them what had happened, and needless to say they were furious with me, I may even be grounded!

On the day of my surgery, my Doctor, who I adore, told me she would call me as soon as the pathology reports were in. At this point, three of the areas were clear, and the last one had been biopsied once and was still suspicious, so it was completely removed during this surgery. So we waited all weekend, me, Jade and my small select group...we waited for the results. At 3:57, Dr. Kennedy called to let me know that the news was good, there was no Cancer! Thank God! I quickly started calling and sharing the good news and I cried, I cried a lot. As I mentioned, I told my parents that evening, and I cried. It felt so good to tell them, and it felt even better to reassure them that I am okay.

For those of you that have read this far, you may wonder why I felt compelled to share this story. It is simple. I made a promise to myself and to God, in the wee hours of the night, in the dark rooms, at my kids’ ballgames, when I heard of another life lost to Cancer, I made a promise, a promise to share my lie.

 I share it with all of you in hopes that if you need to have your mammogram, if you are finding every reason why not to do it, that if you need that one reassurance to go do it, I AM YOUR REASON! My lie could have cost me everything. We can only learn from our mistakes, and we can lead by example.

Please let me lead you in the right way.

I also wanted to take this time to thank those that helped us during this time. From praying, taking me to appointments, keeping my ice packs frozen, picking the kids up from school, taking them to practices, feeding them, picking me up and dusting me off, ignoring my madness, dropping off food, keeping Jade sane, excusing my madness, reading this very long post, listening to me cry, handing me Kleenex after Kleenex, helping with our business, dealing with my madness, all in all...just being there... I say "Thank you, thank you so very much"!

- Christy


Thank you, Christy, for sharing this message.  And it's such an important reminder.  I have to confess - I haven't been taking care of myself.  As I am approaching 40 this year, I need to suck it up and make my appointment for a mammogram and also get back on track with annual visits to the gynocologist.  My confession?  I haven't been since the follow up post-birth visit for Zach.  6 years ago.  It's time and your story is such an important reminder of that.  


Ann-Marie said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Christy! My ob/gyn is the only doctor I see annually, and I see a dermatologist semi-annually. Those are the three most important appointments I keep all year!

Crystal said...

Wow. That was powerful! Thank you Christy, for your honesty, and for sharing your story. I can't imagine all that you've gone through, but I truly appreciate your openness and transparency.

Love this feature, Liz!

Angie @ Just Like The Number said...

Thank you SO much for sharing, Christy. It's so easy as mothers to put everything and everyone else before us. Although like Ann-Marie, I'm good at seeing my OB-GYN, you've inspired me to stop making excuses and finally make that appointment for a well-visit with my primary care doc. I haven't had any bloodwork or physicals done since I had my son 6 years ago!