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Time to Think of Your Own Health

Updated: Oct 12


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


I paused before I started writing this blog post today, realizing I did not have the right to speak in this space. I haven’t lived with breast cancer, or any cancer. My mom did not; neither have my sisters nor daughters.


So, in light of my attempt to always give you honest and relevant information, I asked my girlfriends last week if they would help me shed some needed light on this subject that I know little about. They responded with beautiful words as they finished this sentence for me:


“When I think of women’s health and cancer, I wish I had known...”


“ … you are never really done. It is something that will always be with you and forever changes all that encompasses the survivor.”


“ … that I was not invincible before cancer. There is a fine balance between inner strength, which provides you the resolve to keep going when the road gets tough, and vulnerability that leaves room for God to perform His work both emotionally and physically. It also leaves room for others who love you to minister to you and your family who need care as much as you. I think my road to recovery mentally as well as physically would have been quicker if I hadn’t believed my previous wins in life would be enough to get me through.”


“ … how important getting my mammogram earlier was. There’s no excuse. Make that appointment. I woke one morning in the Fall of 1996 with a small lump in my right breast. I always had regular mammograms. Nevertheless, I asked a female physician I worked with for her opinion … and later that day I heard an X-ray technician say, ‘If this were me, I would have this removed immediately.’ (words you never say in front of the patient) Fast forward through various medical appointments when I asked if I could just have a double mastectomy. I chose that rather than waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop!’ So here I am after months of chemotherapy, and I am healthy in 2022. Treatments and support abound with cutting edge precisions. Now, I have a testimony to share with all my ‘pink ribbon sisters’ and brothers as, YES, men can get this but, of course, it is more rare. MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT!”


After asking for their advice, my blog team helped me understand a little more about the urgency of this conversation. What I found was astonishing as it related to not just my girlfriends, but especially to me!


Breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death among Black women.


That is a pretty harsh statement. Sobering, really. According to The American Cancer Society (@americancancersociety):


"When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, your survival rate can be around 99%. Early detection is critical to this survival rate and includes conducting monthly breast self-exams, scheduling annual clinical breast exams, and mammograms.”


All of my words mean nothing today if they do not cause you and me to reconsider how we take care of ourselves. As women, we need to do better (speaking to myself) with our own self-care. We are caregivers for everyone else, but we often forget how valuable we are!


My annual routine is to make my mammogram appointment during my birthday week, so I celebrate my birthday with the gift of caring for myself and letting my family know that I am doing my duty to honor this body God has given me. I have missed a few years, and that brings a guilty feeling to my soul as I write. But I do my best to make that appointment, and I have received those results through the years with thanksgiving. You ladies know that if you are a heavy coffee consumer like I am, sometimes the delayed results can make you anxious. I know that the extra medical provisions today to obtain clear images the first time, are provisions that I sign up for.


If you are reading today and find this blog post to be a little too personal, just know that my intention is to give room for all the conversations relative to caregivers, usually women, who seek to live a better life each day. I can’t change how I lived yesterday, but I can try to take care of myself in every way possible today and the days to come … for myself and those I love.


I send my condolences to you who have cared for loved ones who have passed away because of any type of cancer—my dear friends and voice students. But today I echo what my girlfriend said:


"MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT!”


*P.S. I am also including a link to a sunscreen product that my daughter, Jessica, recommended to me for women of color, Black Girl Sunscreen. We often forget the seriousness of skin cancer. Keep that sunscreen on, ladies! https://amzn.to/3rIIHHe


Listening Library: “Evergreen” (Yebba)

https://youtu.be/0v2nhMQmntE


“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25 NIV)



Evergreen


I kissed my penny and I threw it in I prayed I'd keep my soul Went down to the river where the water bends The only place I know

Oh, I can't see The forest, for the trees


So will you wait for me? Will you wait for me? Will you wait for me? My evergreen


Standing at the water's edge The Mississippi's overflowing Hold your current in my hands You bring the meaning to my moments

Oh, I can't see The forest, for the trees


So will you wait for me? Will you wait for me? Will you wait for me? My evergreen

So will you wait for me? My evergreen

Oh, I can't see The forest, for the trees

Oh, I feel so

Hopeless against the stream

So will you wait for me? My evergreen I know it's just as hard in Heaven

So will you wait for me? My evergreen I know it's just as hard


My evergreen Evergreen My evergreen

Songwriters: Janee Bennett / George Moore / Abigail Elizabeth Smith

Evergreen lyrics © These Are Songs Of Pulse, Jin Jin Ltd., Abbey Smith Publishing



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