As an oncology nurse, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has a different meaning for me. Breast cancer awareness is a commitment to a patient and a commitment to the memories that shape who I am daily.
I remember the pause and pronounced shock of the eyes when the diagnosis is made.
I remember the chemotherapy teaching and all the terrible side effects that might happen.
I remember the endless trails of lost hair on hospital pillows and shower floors.
I remember the radiation burns and mastectomy incisions with wounds and pain and fear in every dressing change.
I remember the first look in the mirror as the mourning begins.
I remember the ” I cannot do this” and the ” Yes, YES YOU CAN.”
Breast cancer is like a quiet rage trapped in a broken body. Nurses find beauty in what is broken. It’s the kind of invisible beauty that will take you through another day. Humanity has capacity for remarkable healing and coupled with the advancements in breast cancer treatments, another day is becoming longer and stronger.
So if you are one of the beautiful women out there in the breast cancer battle and your journey isn’t so overcoming, remember these words from a nurse.
I will clean up the hair so you don’t have to watch the taking.
I will hold the basin and push the meds when you are sick and want to let go.
I will work longer and faster to finish your transfusions before kindergarten graduation begins.
I will always tell you “You look great!” because I don’t see the reflection of life. I just SEE LIFE.
I will listen again and again until symptoms are managed and you can mark off another treatment, another day, another year.
I will treat you like my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister, my child, my best friend.
Most of all, I will give you what you feel is being taken away. I will give hope, peace and strength, not to borrow but to possess, not to fill a gap but to stand in one.
Breast Cancer Awareness is not just a season in October. It is a reminder that we are all beautifully broken. And together—We are healed.
RN, Clearview Cancer Institute