I started thinking about why I feel this way and I realize that I am not tired; I am angry. I am angry at this “thing” called cancer. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is known for identifying five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is recognized that the stages do not have to occur in that exact order except that grief generally starts with denial and ends with acceptance. And even after acceptance the stages can be and often are revisited.
I have heard that anyone who has experienced a traumatic event in their lives will go through these stages. The event does not have to be the death of a loved one. A common circumstance is a life-threatening illness or diagnosis. I was once asked if I ever got angry about my diagnosis. The answer is no, I don’t think I have. I seem to have skipped over that part.
But now I’m angry. I am angry with the small town doctor and radiologist at my local hospital (before I moved my health care to Boston) who overlooked years of questionable mammograms, telling me I had a cyst, because there was no history of breast cancer in my family. I am angry that another local hospital overlooked a friend’s symptoms of a recurrence. I am angry that yet another friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am angry that cancer has become an epidemic.
I recently watched the documentary Pink Ribbon, Inc. Did you know that back in the 1940’s and 1950’s one in twenty-two (4%) of women would be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at some point in their life. And it was a post-menopausal disease. When I was diagnosed the mantra was “one in ten.” It was barely two years later that I read “one in eight.” That’s right, 12%. And there is an increase of breast cancer in women in their 30’s and 40’s. I was considered young when I was diagnosed at the age of 43.
Anger is a powerful tool. Some people become activists. Some become inspirational speakers. Many write, whether it’s a journal, blog or book. Anger is a motivator. So I am going to continue to do what I can to help promote awareness for all cancers.* I am going to fundraise for the Avon Foundation’s annual Walk for Breast Cancer. I am going to help my friends when and where I can.
I am angry. But I am also tired. I am tired of this disease. I am tired of this epidemic. I am tired of cancer.
*March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Aka bowel cancer to my friends in the U.K. This is a reminder to get screened.
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