Her Story: Beyond the Pink, Behind the Survivor

I would like to preface this article by saying my family and I are extremely fortunate and we feel deep sorrow for those who have lost loved ones.

Her body was attacking itself. With each doctor’s appointment, treatment, painful conversation, her mind was on the defense too. Amazingly enough, women fighting this malignant disease find the power and strength to keep a healthy mentality. However, once her body was no longer under attack, it seemed that her mind was fair game. She is left with battle wounds, guilt and distorted body image. Five years ago, my mom began a new fight, one of a survivor. The month of October has brought up campaigns like “Save the Tatas” as well as slogans like “Save Second Base.” However, my mission is to raise awareness about the mental impact breast cancer can leave after the cancer itself has been terminated.

My mom once said to me that the water we drink must be infected because the amount of people diagnosed is absurd. In my family alone, upwards of five members have been diagnosed with cancer. It seems inevitable in these situations that being a survivor comes with great feeling of relief, relaxation and a newfound positive outlook on life. I am not saying that survivors don’t experience this elation, but I am saying that once their physical fight has ended, their journey has not. Something as simple as not being able to find a well-fitting bra can be overwhelming and saddening. Recently, my mom’s close friend was diagnosed with three different types of cancer, first with breast, then lung, and then stomach cancer. My mom internalizes her friend’s struggle because she empathizes with her situation. She feels her pain.

My mom is scheduled to undergo surgery to reconstruct her breasts in order to continue the healing process. Why, five years later, is she still fighting a battle that she won? It’s because of her friend’s diagnosis, late mother passed away from cancer, and because she is a survivor.  It is important to keep in mind that the strongest person you know can still feel weak. So I ask, wear pink not because it’s trending but because you support the whole journey.