I like definitions. I like explanations and when things make sense, reconcile and add up. I like to break words apart and put them back together. And where I’ve previously skimmed over the words “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” they now have new meaning to me.
Defined by the web:
Breast: Either of the two soft, protruding organs on the upper front of a woman’s body that secrete milk after pregnancy. (Hmmm, ok.)
Cancer: The disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
Awareness: Knowledge or perception of a situation or fact; concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.
Month: Each of the twelve named periods into which a year is divided; a period of 28 days or four weeks.
OK, and here are my definitions:
Breast: What was once a significant part of my body and my femininity. What I didn’t appreciate nearly enough while I had them. What nourished and fed my two children for about 12 months each, a total of 24 months of both beauty and sacrifice. And whose loss may be overcome and reconstructed into something new and equally significant.
Cancer: A word that evokes terror, senselessness, weightlessness, and hopelessness when directed at you. Yet a word that can be chewed up, digested, worked through, understood and overcome.
Awareness: Breathing and seeing. Recognizing the good in what is around you. Rooting down to tune in. Listening deeply to yourself and others. Trusting an inner knowing and knowledge that may not always make logical sense. Intuition. Courage. Divine Self.
Month: A container of time as significant as a second, minute, day, week, or year. Each container is a gift collectively adding up to form memories, and each future container is not promised.
So yes, here it is October 23, and I’ve been thinking about what Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to me for the past 23 days. How the words are forever changed to me since “breast cancer” was spoken at me. I’ve thought of many women who look at this month differently after the words deeply sting into our lives.
And here I am, not quite on “the other side,” but finally finding some peace after a freefall drop and climb back out, finding footing and the way to the light. Working through worst-case scenarios and understanding that with a lot of courage and a lot of letting go, everything will be OK. It has to be.
My cancer diagnosis was a “divine tap on the shoulder”:
Hey, you. I’m proud of you. You are aware of your body. You dared to get this lump checked out when you easily could have ignored it. People ask if your cancer mass “felt” different, and no, it didn’t really. It’s your awareness that felt different. You tuned in, and you listened. Be still. Stop hurrying around from place to place. Enjoy life. Be aware. Treasure your brilliant body and its capabilities. Don’t cling. Release. Know your inner self, your divine nature, and trust yourself to yourself.
The word I like best in “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” is awareness. We ought to walk through this world with our eyes wide open, aware. Aware of ourselves and aware of each other. Aware of how each decision we make adds up to wholes. Aware that in mind and body, we should see with clarity and purposefully deal with what is before us. And we should be aware of our individual truths and embrace and celebrate them without fear.