“The Big C”

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Martina McBride was in the ballroom at Dancing with the Stars last night singing her breast cancer awareness song –  I’m Gonna Love You Through It. Pink is all around me and for a great cause. 

I have been active in raising awareness for breast cancer for many years, but this year continues bring new opportunities.  I blog for so many reasons, but one of the ones dearest to my heart is to share and hopefully touch many people. 

Not long ago, my best friend introduced me an incredible woman and mother who has amazed me beyond words.  She was recently diagnosed with what she calls…

“The Big C”

Her positive and surprisingly humorous attitude compelled me to reach out to her in hopes that she might share her strength and insight with others. I interviewed her over the phone from my dressing room last week. I had the privilege to hear her story, share in her experience for a moment and learn some valuable life lessons. She is truly a pillar of strength and a woman to to learn from.

What went through your mind when you first found out you had cancer?

Tracey: Oh shit!  (Laughter.) I thought, am I going to be able to work during this whole process? Work is what I do.  How am I going to fit this into my hectic life?

What did you tell your children?

Tracey: I just told them the truth.  It was easier for them if I just told them everything I knew. Because it’s the fear of the unknown, the speculation and the lack of knowledge is the most difficult part.

‘Cancer’ – to a child or anyone who isn’t educated about the illness – means you’re going to die.  So when I sat down with my son, I didn’t say, ‘I have cancer.’ Instead I explained that there was a lump in my breast. I told him what it was and what I am going to do about it, in full detail. 

I went to get fitted for a wig and I invited him to come along.  That way he wouldn’t have to ask me a thousand things about losing my hair.  He has been in the room during many discussions with doctors and when he isn’t present, I come home and share all the details.  It alleviates all the wondering and answers the questions that he would probably have.

I told him I had breast cancer, but I do not want my son’s world to revolve around this fact. I’m having surgery tomorrow and he is going to school. When he gets out, he can come see me but I don’t want his entire senior year to be all about his mom being sick.

How is your husband handling everything?

Tracey: He is more sensitive than I am.  He has a family history of cancer.  He is there for me for every appointment and he wants to be there for everything.  It’s nice to have that person there for me when I want him or need him to be.

What advice would you give to other women to try to make their process easier?

Tracey: Don’t panic…Life can always be so much worse.  Cancer is manageable and treatable if you catch it early enough. 

This is how I look at it: It is what it is and it’s going to be what it is whether I cry about it, laugh or get angry. I feel so sad when I see all the depressed people in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. Why be angry and sad all day, when I can just deal with it? 

 I have stage 2 cancer. I think to myself, ok it’s not stage 1 but OMG at least I’m not stage 4! I am going to deal with this like I deal with everything else in my life. I know it’s corny but I am choosing to look at the bright side. When my hair falls out, I’ll get a wig. If I lose my eyelashes, I’ll glue them on.  Thank God it’s me, because if my kids going through this, I would crack. I am strong enough to fight this, and I would take it any day over someone I love who isn’t strong enough to face what I can. 

Isn’t it amazing how as mothers we have a magical ability to deal with whatever life throws at us, for our families and for ourselves. Tracey had a growing lump in her breast for a while before she checked it out. I am scheduled to get my first mammogram tomorrow.  Have you had yours?

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