Talking about tumors and chatting about cancer. That’s what I do.
It just comes out. Wherever I go. Because I see it. Reminders of breast cancer. Everywhere I go.
A pink-ribbon-themed fundraiser pops up like a page from a pop-up book in front of my very eyes. I reach into the grocery store fridge for yogurt and can’t ignore the dancing little pink ribbons. TV shows break for commercials and swirly pink ribbons bounce across the screen.
Breast cancer can’t be ignored.
The millisecond I trick myself into thinking that I won’t see something to remind me about the cancer my mom is fighting with chemo, another pink ribbon whips me in the face.
On Friday night, I made my way to a familiar rink.
Too bad I wasn’t quite prepared for the sight inside the lobby.
I expected the tickets. Just not the tables and t-shirts; they caught me off guard.
White t-shirts. With big pink swoopy ribbons gracing the front of the t’s.
Looking, but wishing I could turn away from the tables and t-shirts, I purchased my ticket and made my way into the rink.
I found a hockey mom. A mom I’ve known for many years. We hugged and headed to her usual spot in the bleachers.
After re-aquainting myself with her in-laws, remembering that we’d met at previous hockey games and an open house, we began the typical, “How have you been? What’s new?” conversation.
Our eyes were set on the game. She was watching her kid fight for the puck at the face off.
“Well, actually. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in October.”
The emotion that I think I’ve conquered everytime I utter those horrible words, never actually leaves my voice.
And she heard it. Loud and clear – despite the whistles, fans, and plays at hand. She heard me say those words and heard the voice behind those words.
Immediately, she looked over at me. And I heard her true sympathy when she said, “I’m so sorry.”
And then she told me “My mom had breast cancer.”
There we were. Sitting in the bleachers. Cheering on a great kid. A great team. During a great regular-season game. And talking. Talking about breast cancer. Our moms. Their breast cancer.
Suddenly, we were bonded. Because of what her mom went through. Because of what my mom is going through.
Two daughter’s of breast cancer women. We have different stories, no two stories are alike, but we know the themes, the villians, the heroes.
She’s not the first person I’ve met in this breast cancer world I live in. She’s not the first daughter of a breast cancer survivor I know. She’s just someone I never knew had gone through what I’m going through.
That’s the ironic beauty of this journey.
That’s the ironic joy of these cancer chats.
You find out you’re not alone. Every single conversation. You learn that someone knows what it’s like.
And someday, possibly soon, I’ll find myself in a cancer chat. And I’ll be the one saying, “I’m so sorry. My mom had breast cancer.”