These things are not tied with a pink ribbon

January 14th, 2011 § 24 comments

I wish I had the energy of my youth.
I wish I had the body.
I wish I had the fearlessness, the spunk, the drive.

I wish I could have a conversation with that young girl,
bright-eyed and full of wonder.
I wish I could tell her what lay ahead.

I wish I could tell her to gather strength, and wisdom, and patience like a squirrel gathering acorns for the winter.
“Save those things up,” I’d say, “you are going to need them… every last bit.”
I wish I could share the perspective I’ve gained along with all of the love.

But I can’t go back to that time,
I can’t go back to that place.
I can’t rewrite what’s happened,
I can’t do it all again.

I guess I must have done something right along the way for when it came time to fight I did,
and I did it well.
But that struggle took its toll on me and I am quite sure I will never, ever be the same.

You tell yourself “they’re only breasts.”
You say, “I don’t need ovaries, I’m done having children.”
But that obscures the truth.
The truth is that it does matter,
they do matter.
They say my uterus is atrophied.
It almost sounds funny when you say it.

“Who cares? What does that matter?”
It does. It does. It does.
To get rid of all hormones gives me a better chance at avoiding a recurrence, but there is a price to be paid.
No estrogen matters more than I ever thought it could.

It feels worse than taking injections to suppress my ovaries, worse than taking Tamoxifen. Those were easy. I had no clue what was ahead.

I wear the skirt, I put the makeup on, I walk the walk.
But I do not feel like a woman anymore.
I’m proud of what this body has done for me:
3 beautiful children,
surviving cancer,
healing the broken bones, the infections, the autoimmune diseases.
There is no week without migraines,
no cold winter day without icy implants.

Beneath the pretty lies ugly,
the ugly truth of cancer
and what it has taken from me.

While some may be able to go on,
move on,
I cannot.
My body will not let me.

These things are not tied with a pink ribbon.

These things last longer than a month.
This is part of awareness.

This is part of what breast cancer can do.
This is what it has done to me.

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§ 24 Responses to These things are not tied with a pink ribbon"

  • Once again, your honesty, strength and courage humble me.

  • Mary Helen says:

    Lisa, you are truly beautiful, inside and out, and your honesty and candor are amazing. Beautifully written post. I know how much just being the mom of a cancer patient has changed me. I can’t imagine being the patient myself. If I ever am, I hope to borrow from your grace and positive outlook. Thanks for sharing this!

  • ThePeachy1 says:

    Every time I come here, no matter what is on my mind, what worries, what turmoil, you are my constant, returning me every time to sanity, the reality of life, the strength I wish to achieve and the standard of beauty and dignity I aspire for. You my friend, remain remarkable.

  • Scary Mommy says:

    This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Poignant and brave. It’s funny how we would go back and tell our younger selves so many things, how to live and be different, when the beauty of that knowledge comes from the lives we’ve lived. Hugs to you.

  • Shari says:

    I can’t help but think of this entry with every pink ribbon that I come upon, especially this year.

  • This is so beautiful because it is so true.

  • Judy Holmes says:

    You hit the nail on the head; unfortunately, doctors/oncologists, simply don’t get it. They continue to have the “use it or lose it. . .doesn’t matter” attitude. The insensitivity hits like a rock when one is reeling against a diagnosis. It DOES MATTER!!!

    “Who cares? What does that matter?”
    It does. It does. It does.
    To get rid of all hormones gives me a better chance at avoiding a recurrence, but there is a price to be paid.
    No estrogen matters more than I ever thought it could. – See more at:

  • Karen Buchanan says:

    Let me wipe away my tears before I respond. I didn’t expect someone to write something that so closely mirrors my thoughts. For 17 years (1st @ age of 33) I have heard others tell me how good I look, no matter what has just been physically taken from me, and all that matters is that I am alive and at that moment tumor free. The one little thing at that moment may have seemed small compared to being alive itself, I agree, but there is a very very long list of small things that really really add up after 17 years of taking. The disease that just keeps on taking. My body will not let me forget every single day. My scars, my pain, my evidence. I very much agree, the estrogen loss is a daily battle. As time passes, it just keeps taking as well. I try hard to be thankful for life itself but it’s just one battle after another in the long war that became my life. It is nice to hear someone else write words that speak so close to my heart. God bless you and all of the other Stage IV survivors who are in this battle daily and God bless the families who are there daily with them. I know it takes a toll on my family. I love them so! * Love * Peace * Hope* to all.

  • Radini L says:

    Beautifully written and gives such a true picture of what Cancer does. I have had to go through watching someone close to me simply wither away right before my eyes due to cancer. The pain was unbearable.

    This is so true:
    These things are not tied with a pink ribbon.
    These things last longer than a month.

    Lisa, You are such an inspiration not only to cancer patients but to women in general. I pray for health and strength for you.

  • Nasreen says:

    You are so right, none of this is tied up in a stupid pink ribbon for a month! Each and every day, five years on from original diagnosis, I am reminded of bring carved up, in order to remove cancer from my body, the scars tell the story, but no one wants to listen these days, because I ‘ look so well’ that I must be cured and ‘ over it all ‘ now, what do they know!!!!

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