It's Thursday already! This week is flying by. Today I'm going to be featuring another nurse from the chemo unit where I received my treatment. Her name is Breanna Fawcett. I'll also be featuring 2 cancer survivors, Christina Olachia (The Uniboob Club), and Laurie Kingston (Not Just About Cancer). You guys ROCK!
KARA: "Why did you choose to work with cancer patients?"
BREANNA: "I don't feel very much like an incredible woman. I am just lucky enough to work where I do. Ever since I started as a nurse I've been drawn to oncology. I was very nervous starting at the chemo clinic. I thought that it would be sad and depressing. It's the opposite. My patients make me happy, they make me smile. They remind me why I do what I do. Some of the most amazing people I know I've met at work! I don't think I do what I do for the patients, it's what they do for me and what they teach me about life."
KARA: "How do you come to work each day with a smile on your face?"
BREANNA: "Some days I don't come to work with a smile. I guess I'm human and have my grumpy days :). It quickly changes when somebody comes in and we laugh and joke and banter. My patients make my day, then it's easy to make theirs! When I look around at what I'm grumpy about I have no reason to be, and I tell myself if someone who has cancer is happy then I should be too!"
KARA: "Has there been a patient that has changed your life?"
BREANNA: "Thinking about this, I don't think I can name just one. There are so many. Everyday I take care of someone and I think, "Oh, I just love him/her." Then I think the same about the next person. I am so grateful for the examples of love, courage, strength, patience, compassion, etc. Sometimes we have such a good time in the chemo room and we laugh and play, sometimes we cry together. We spend lots of time together and we become friends!"
KARA: "What is the most important thing to know about breast cancer?"
BREANNA: "I don't know what the best advice to women is...probably catch it early! Do your exams, etc. Don't ignore anything you think is different."
(Christina and her boys, Joshua and Micah, this month at the Komen walk)
KARA: "What is the most important things that you've learn while going through breast cancer?"
CHRISTINA: "I have learned to take life one step at a time. Not to get too wound up in the material things life has to offer but instead to be grateful for what I do have. What I know is all the things this world has to offer can't make us happy but all the memories we make together can last not just in this lifetime with me, but with my children and be passed down to their children, and so on and so on. I have learned to be at home with who I am and to take the time with my family and my closest friends as a gift. When I heard the words breast cancer I was a bit in shock. I had to dig deep into my faith and ground myself in it. I found peace and strength in who I was, who I am and began seeing my life differently.... with a new lease on life. I would say in the end I stopped worrying about tomorrow and began living fully in the herE and now as a wife, a mother and a daughter."
KARA: "How has it changed you as a person?"
CHRISTINA: "I would say as a women it has changed me most. Of course there are the obvious things like my breast, my hair and all the new scars all over my chest. But I would not say they aren't positive changes. Don't get me wrong here I am not jumping up and down doing a happy dance here. But breast cancer has brought many dear and wonderful women into my life. I am a better person for our shared struggles. Breast cancer has also changed me in a way I did not expect as it has made me comfortable in my own skin. Losing a breast and your hair as a women can be incredibly devastating as they are both parts of the female body that say to the world who we are right? So I have to say losing both freed me in ways I never knew I could be freed. I still have not completed my reconstructive surgery all this time later and maybe I never will. I see these scars and the disfigured lump where a breast used to be and I count my blessing because I am here today. I am not afraid anymore to just be me."
KARA: "Because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, can you give the women who read this blog some advice about breast cancer?"
CHRISTINA: "Be aware! I know we hear these words a lot during the month of October and many times we may get tired of hearing about this cancer. I know from experience people tune it out while hearing blah blah blah BUT breast cancer is a killer. It affects both men and women and over 40 thousand deaths are anticipated this year alone from this terrible disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women in our country, so you have to be aware of any changes in your body and not ignore the signs. Do your breast self exams and don't put off going in for a your mammograms. Most of all don't ever say " I am too young for breast cancer". I was 32 years old with no family history when I was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer ( TNBC is a very aggressive form of breast cancer accounting for just about 15% of all breast cancers out there). If I had put off going in to see my doctor when I discovered a lump in my left breast I would not be here today."
(Christina's blog is one of my very favorites. She has this one picture on there that is so cool - it's a woman's eye with a pink ribbon reflected in the pupil. LOVE it!)
(Laurie was kind enough to answer my questions, even though she wasn't feeling well right after her chemo treatment. Been there, done that, so I know how she feels. Thanks Laurie)
KARA: "What has having cancer taught you?"
LAURIE: "Having cancer has taught me that you can find joy and humour in even the darkest places."
KARA: "How has cancer changed you?"
LAURIE: "The biggest change in me is how I am learning to live in the moment, to take pleasure in the here and now. I am happier because of this. I also find that being more 'present' has opened the door to my creative spirit."
Laurie has written a book called "Not Done Yet, Living Through Breast Cancer". You can order it through Women's Press (click here)
Such wonderful women, don't you agree. Tomorrow is the last day of the features for breast cancer week. 2 more cancer survivors! I've been thinking maybe I'll share a little bit of my experience with breast cancer on Saturday. I hope you'll return.
Oh - and just a little plug for the give-away... if you are a cancer patient, a cancer survivor, or know someone who is, PLEASE comment sometime this week and tell me why you want that super cool bag loaded with PINK stuff (see the sidebar for pictures).