Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Pink is the colour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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pink ribbonIt is October the 3rd and we are already three days into Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Which means, I’m still not going to tell you which Olympic medallist I shared the podium with on Thursday. That will have to wait until next week!

Three days into the month and I have not done anything to support the cause or to draw awareness to the importance of doing whatever we can to ensure breast cancer does not harm another woman, child, family in the world.

In honour of my beautiful friends UZ and LS, both of whom are survivors and all the other women who have fought, who continue to fight, who have won and who have lost the battle, I am sharing a post by Lisa Bonchek AdamsI have followed Lisa’s journey for some time and I am always in awe and humbled by her spirit and her capacity to write with such self-awareness and compassion as she continues to fight for her life every single day. In an update Lisa posted on September 26th, she wrote, “I have become an expert in uncertainty. I don’t know how I will feel from one day to the next. I don’t know if the chemotherapy that worked a few weeks ago will still work today. I don’t know how my body will tolerate what I’m doing. I don’t know how long this all will last.”

Her courage is humbling.

Her honesty is heart-breaking and her willingness to be present as she takes each step of her journey reminds me always to find the value in all things, and to turn up in my life every single day with a loving, grateful heart.

Her post from today is titled, Last One On The Line.

Please take a few minutes to read it and if you can, make a donation to support Breast Cancer Research whereever you are in the world. Thank you.

 Last One On The Line

by Lisa Bonchek Adams

It seems like you can’t rank anguish. You shouldn’t be able to “out-suffer” someone. How do you quantify misery?

And yet, somehow we do.

“My problems are nowhere near as bad as yours are.”
“I feel terrible complaining to you about it when you are going through so much yourself.”

I hear these types of comments all the time.
I make these types of comments all the time.

Placing ourselves in a hierarchy of pain and suffering serves to ground us; no matter how bad our situation is, there’s comfort in knowing there is always someone who has it worse….(read the rest of this post)

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Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

3 thoughts on “Pink is the colour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  1. I think it’s wonderful how open society is now about disease- sharing via blogs, etc. to increase awareness and activism.

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  2. LG

    Last year my friend Gary died … pancreatic cancer. Five years ago my friend Barbara died of breast cancer. In March, my dad – a prostate cancer survivor – died. Four years ago another friend named Gary died of liver cancer.

    Cancer .. is cancer .. we need, all of us, to be more aware, more active and more concerned .. because it can impact any of us. Not just our breasts, but every part of us is vulnerable, both men and women.

    I was asked by the Cancer Society to interview someone last spring – I met Myra, and wrote a piece which will appear this fall in the BELIEVE magazine. Here is Myra’s story:

    Just call me Sally …

    Death-sentence diagnosis didn’t change Myra Schofield

    by Mark Kolke

    Myra Schofield didn’t feel her story was especially notable or worthy of being put in print but with the encouragement of her family, she chose to share her story with me.

    I had the chance to meet with Myra after she had been diagnosed with cancer and as we concluded our meeting, I asked how I should describe her for this article. Did she prefer Myra, Myra Schofield or something else?

    “Just call me Sally,” she replied. Because what happened to Myra could happen to anyone.

    Meeting Myra
    I met Myra on a Sunday afternoon. At this point, Myra was halfway through the three to six months she was told she would live. I was greeted at the door and I saw a woman walking across the room – I assumed it was someone else. To my surprise, it was Myra – steady on her feet, smiling, charming and funny, in a dry and occasionally sarcastic manner.

    This woman did not look like someone who was living with cancer. She did not look like someone who was dying of cancer either.

    Myra had an end-of-life plan and everything seemed to be in place. But, after spending seven weeks in a cancer facility, her mood shifted – she wanted out. With encouragement from her daughter, cooperation was sought from the palliative team and she was sprung! Myra was now able to be home as her life was ending. She was supported by her family who held the attitude that, “It’s your journey and you are in charge of it.”

    To accommodate Myra’s request to be home, there was a daily care regime – morning and night – that included the administration of medications, and feeding via a tube. There was also a much needed conversion of the dining room into a storage room for medical supplies.

    But this isn’t where the story starts.

    Myra’s story
    It began with a tickle in her throat. Stage 4 adenoid cystic carcinoma. Non-smoker, non-drinker, just a 5’1” slender little wisp of a woman who tended to avoid doctoring for colds, flu and aches until she felt a lump in her neck. A trip to her physician resulted in a prescription for a suspected throat infection and ended with, “see you in two weeks.” She had plans, a trip to Las Vegas, paid for and ready to go. But the tickle persisted, a follow-up physician visit after seven days triggered a same-day biopsy.

    Myra was admitted to the emergency room that very same day. She was diagnosed, stayed at the hospital and was then transferred to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. There, she went through radiation therapy to shrink the tumour because chemotherapy was not effective. An external feeding pump became necessary as the heartless disease progressed. The tumour shrunk, but the cancer had spread to her lungs.

    After choosing to leave the cancer facility, Myra appeared to be living a completely normal life – her own – not tied to a hospital bed, where she was just another person behind another curtain; where lack of privacy and lack of independence are the norm.

    So what can we learn from Myra’s story?
    Perhaps my personal view is skewed – because since I started working on this story, I’ve lost two of my closest friends. Gary, at 64, from pancreatic cancer. My dad, a cancer survivor, at 91, from old age. My personal losses have me remembering that Peggy Lee song called Is that all there is? The rich, the famous, the notorious and the extraordinary people in books – they get headlines, their memories more often kept alive.

    But nearly all of us, as swiftly as the calendar page turns, are reduced to the status of Gary, my dad, and Myra. Unknown, unremembered, unimportant – except to members of their immediate family and friends, by whom they are profoundly missed.

    Myra was class. She was dignity. Humility. Practicality. She was grace under pressure – so much so that it appeared there was no pressure, no urgency. Myra, or Sally, as she had suggested, shared a story of a simple woman living simply, dying simply. No fanfare, no drama, no chest-beating, no anger, just dignity, kindness, humour and a twinkle in her eye. That is how I will remember her. I won’t soon forget.

    To end our conversation, I asked if she had any unfinished business.

    Her answer, “No. I have a family who know I love them dearly.”

    Myra Schofield, born in 1941, passed away peacefully in Calgary, Alta., on April 26, 2014.

    ~~~
    I hope your readers will be as touched by Myra’s story as I was … it gives pause to all of us, that more bizarre than dying with cancer, is living with cancer. Cures are closer … but treatment, coping and new treatments are where the real action is – we need to give more, understand more – and then we can be more prepared ..

    Cheers,

    Mark

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