A strange thing has started to happen. I feel like breast cancer is everywhere.
It’s not just the premature “Pinktober” hoopla that’s already taking hold (Have I told you how I’m sort of dreading next month’s pinkpalooza?); it’s actual people, people who have or are battling this same beast that I’m currently at war with.
I hate to always bring everything back to pregnancy and childbirth, but the parallels line up again for me.
Three years ago when my husband and I first started trying to have a baby, I learned the sad truth about how common both infertility and miscarriage/loss are for women. One in 8 couples have trouble getting/sustaining a healthy pregnancy. I never thought I’d be one of those people who would have trouble, and yet there I was, month after month of disappointment at my door, wondering what was wrong with my body.
What I found during that time was I was not alone. SO many people I knew had struggled to get pregnant or, even worse in my mind, gotten pregnant and lost a child. I cannot imagine such a loss, and my heart just aches for anyone who knows that pain. As people I knew experienced this, or told me about past experiences, I realized this was a far more common occurrence than I’d previously believed. I guess we try to tell ourselves that these things don’t happen often, and when they do, they happen to other people, as a means of coping with the real fear that this terrible thing could, in fact, happen to us, too.
Which brings me back to breast cancer (and cancer in general). Just this week, another person shared her story with me. I had no idea she was a survivor, and though it shouldn’t at this point, it took me a bit by surprise. She seems just so, well, normal.
It’s strange for me to see these people who’ve fought and come out on the other side. These coworkers, friends, friends of friends, classmates, childhood chums–all these people, many of them around my age, who’ve gone through this same thing. They’ve waged their battles, and from appearances, won. Their lives have gone on as usual. On the surface, you really can’t tell there’s anything different about them.
But I know there is. I know they have scars, both physical and emotional. I know these scars are what compel them to reach out to me. I know my own scars are what push me to reach out to others, too. I’ve connected with so many people I don’t even know through blogs, friends of friends, etc., since this whole ordeal began. I feel like we’re all just floating along on this journey, reaching out for someone who can help us make sense of it all.
And in talking to all these people, I realize just how common this all is. We all feel like a special snowflake when something happens to us, but the truth is, we’re not alone at all in our experiences. While each individual case may be different, the general commonality remains. Some days this makes me feel better, others it makes me mad/sad. Today, I’m taking comfort in it as best I can–while I hate that anyone else ever has to experience this, it’s nice to not be alone.