Dear ms. cancer

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would like to encourage anyone who has been diagnosed, presently battling or know someone who has been touched by this disease. It Ain’t Over!

As a two time breast cancer survivor, I give God all the glory! By sharing my experience, I hope you will give yourself permission to take this journey with courage, grace and if necessary, a little attitude.

The following is an excerpt from the book, “SHIfT HAPPENS“.

“A breast cancer diagnosis is like experiencing the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I tried to avoid Stage 2: Anger.  I considered anger as a waste of time, energy and a sign of weakness. I recall being home alone and trying my best not to think about how I was feeling about the diagnosis and having surgery. But I could not shake the feeling. I finally decided to sit down and write exactly how I felt about Ms. Cancer.

Expressing rather than suppressing my true feelings was liberating and empowering. I felt a fearlessness that came as a result of releasing anger on paper.  Getting this off my “breast” cleared the path for me to be much more amenable to Stage 5: Acceptance.

My raw, unedited “Message to Breast Cancer”:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. This year was supposed to be spent celebrating my ten-year anniversary of being cancer free.

But no – cancer would not stay away. Cancer is like a stalker.  I hate to refer to cancer as if it is an actual person who has a toxic personality with attachment issues, but that it what it seems like to me.

I had a chance encounter with cancer 10 years ago during my annual checkup. No signs, symptoms or warnings – a spot appeared on my mammogram. This spot ultimately led to another mammogram, biopsy, lumpectomy and 30+ rounds of radiation.

After all the pain and drama, cancer and I parted ways free to go live our lives separately. To play it safe and ensure this bitch did not come back, I took a drug called Tamoxiphen every day for five years. I faithfully had an annual mammogram with no signs of this toxic, evasive, sneaky heifer hanging around in my breast.

There were some bumps in the road that I experienced in her absence, like unexpectedly becoming a widow and a single parent.  But it was just life. I had accepted that shit happens. I began living what I thought was my best life, no going back and forth with these cancer cells.  

I became even more vigilant. I started eating right, exercising, resting and living a stress-free life – so I thought. But No! This bitch is so damn jealous. She evidently plotted her unexpected return with hopes of tearing me down this time, since I survived her ass last time.

On February 27th, I went for my annual mammogram and it was like deja vu. The series of events began just like it did with the first diagnosis: mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy and then I receive the results. I was being diagnosed with a second primary cancer in the same breast. What the hell? Now, genetic testing, MRI and a serious, serious discussion about my options: unilateral mastectomy, bilaterial mastectomy, reconstruction, implants, blah, blah, blah …

All I can think about is this bitch is messing with the wrong one.  I have faithfully believed in a power greater than myself: God All Mighty. I have stood on three words since I met cancer: It Ain’t Over! Well, I got news for her. It STILL Ain’t Over!

What is my point? Bitches come and they go. Shit happens, but when you know who you are and whose you are, you can speak power over your situation in the Name of Jesus.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I must speak of those things that are not as if they are. So, let me be the first to say: I am a mother, author, international speaker, artist, business owner, a child of God and a TWO TIME CANCER SURVIVOR!

I apologize to anyone who finds my language offensive. You may also find it contradictory. I speak of God in one breath and call cancer a bitch in the next. Please excuse me; I am just trying to cope with grieving the loss of part of my body and having to experience another unexpected shift in my life.

I am who I am.  I am not perfect, but I am forgiven. I am living my best life out loud.

Shit happens!  But it STILL ain’t over! “

Until Next Time!

Joyce E.

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