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Pink Edition: Take charge, be an advocate

October 2, 2013 

Cindy Gross.JPG

Cindy Gross


Do something. Anything. Make the cancer go away. What will I have to endure - will they chop off my breasts, make me ingest toxic drugs, poke me and prod me and stick me with needles and run me through machines? Quick, learn the difference between an MRI and an ultrasound and a mammogram. What does each really do, what does each detect, what kinds of false positives and false negatives might occur with each? This isn't happening, it's really a mistake. The test results aren't really mine. Are they?

Deep breath. Of course it's my diagnosis. And it's mine to deal with. I can either panic (been there, done that - just a few seconds ago) and wallow in fear and pain, or I can deal with it and move past it. Doesn't seem like much of a choice. I guess I'll deal with it. It. The breast cancer. I can fight it. I will fight it like a girl - proud and strong. I'll overcome it.

And I did. The cancer is gone. A little lumpectomy - done. A few weeks of radiation just in case there's a microscopic cancer cell or two left over - coming in a few weeks with few expected side effects. Genetic testing - negative for the common breast and ovarian cancer-causing mutations, including BRCA. What a relief. I'm cured and I still have breasts that look pretty much like they did before. I'm done. I survived.

I took that fearsome cancer dragon and I turned it into something to live with. I didn't do it alone. I have a great circle of friends who went with me to the biopsy and doctor appointments and pre-op and post-op. They sent positive thoughts and showed they cared and they also knew when I just needed to be alone. I have a highly trained surgeon and oncologists and lab techs and nurses and even a nurse navigator assigned by the hospital. I work for a company that provides me with great insurance, so I don't have to worry about paying for all this wonderful medical care and the frequent screenings I will have in the future.

I am so lucky in so many ways. They caught my cancer early. I have wonderful friends. I asked questions and went back for additional screenings after the initial false negative, and I have access to medical care many in this country can't afford - though many more may get the care they need as more health care act provisions are enacted.

You, too, can be lucky - take charge of your own life. Ask questions, take action, and be your own best advocate. Schedule your mammogram. Fight like a girl. Love your friends. Ask questions. Befriend your dragons. Help someone in need. Thank those who help you. Do, be, live, love, grow, change. And never give up.

Cindy Gross, of Boise, recently survived a bout with breast cancer which she has been documenting on and @CindyGross.

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