The month of October is almost gone and I haven't said one word about breast cancer. In August I thought about writing a blog a day in the month of October about the lessons I've learned as a breast cancer survivor. (The Lord knows I can come up with 31 lessons - no problem.)
I quickly put that idea to bed.
To be honest, I don't like to talk about breast cancer and the month of October often seems like an onslaught of pink reminders of things I'd rather not dwell upon. It used to bring to mind images of cooler weather, football, and a great cup of coffee. But in 2009, it began to mean something different to me.
That October I saw pink everywhere. T-shirts, flip-flops, coke cans and every other product and place you can think of. Even the NFL got into it with pink gloves, cleats and ribbons right on their jerseys.
What was supposed to be an idea that evoked an awareness and sense of community around a health issue that impacts 1 in 8 women in their lifetime, became for me a mocking symbol of my weakness. Sometimes I just ignored it and sometimes it made me angry.
Here's the honest truth - I didn't embrace "the pink ribbon" because I did not want to be identified with the disease I was battling.
I've had to fight to overcome that mindset. Running, hiding or even ignoring this struggle was ineffective and only left me weary and afraid.
Like it or not, I am forever tied to the issue of breast cancer and that little pink ribbon.
I've realized that my own fear has made me run from identifying myself with a group of people that I actually love, embrace and am proud to be a part of. Cancer survivors are warriors and they are powerful.
So before October is gone, I want to overcome my own childishness and share three of the most important life lessons breast cancer has taught me.
BELIEVE MORE DEEPLY
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
What you believe and how strongly you believe it really matters! To believe means to accept as true or real. Take a moment and reflect on your beliefs. Are they grounded in truth? Are they shaped by fear? Do you need to change your mind about some of your beliefs?
Once you’ve evaluated the ground upon which you have placed your faith, you are ready to reach down inside of your heart and simply dare to believe. Believe you might get through it. Believe that even if you don’t, it will work for your good. Believe that what the enemy meant for evil God will use for good.
DECLARE MORE LOUDLY
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
What you say and how you say it really matters! To declare means to make known, to announce emphatically, to proclaim. Stop and listen to yourself. What are you saying? What are you reading? Who are you listening to?
Once you’ve heard your own voice and based your beliefs upon truth, use what you know for your good. Speak to your mountain and tell it to get out of your way. Pray out loud. Write a declaration of faith and read it to yourself. Say something encouraging.
STAND MORE FIRMLY
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
What you do and how you do it really matters! To stand means to maintain an upright position supported by one’s feet. Take a measure of where you are standing. Are you feet firmly planted on the rock of Jesus Christ? Have you taken a position based upon His word? Have you refused to compromise your position with worry, doubt or fear?
Today, I embrace the month of October as an opportunity to share about the importance of early detection as a life saving measure. For all my female readers - Have you had your mammogram? Why not?
I've also taken a stand to embrace the pink ribbon with honor. It identifies a tribe of people impacted and empowered by a shared experience. I have decided that the ribbon is a statement of my victory and a reminder to me and others of the power of our faith and the hope of our salvation. (Visit my page on Breast Cancer to learn a little more about my personal journey.)
What about you? What life lessons have you learned from adversity? Together, we could come up with our own list of 31 "pearls of wisdom."
*In 2011, I became a part of a project of The National Breast Cancer Foundation who’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. Beyond the Shock is an initiative of the organization that is designed to provide a broad range of resources and encouragement for breast cancer patients and their families. I am featured as a documentary participant, sharing my personal insights and perspectives as a cancer survivor.