... and I'm all like "well BET called and..."
You know its because I'm SUCH big deal.
At the beginning of the year, back when I was all excited about the possibilities in 2014... I was challenged by some other bloggers to choose a word or a concept to make my focus for the year. After some thought and meditation, the word and concept that I chose to focus on this year was RECEIVE. Read: My theme for 2014 is Receive
Being the girl that I am, I started out gang-busters with energy this year and after one stumble after another and a few side steps and pauses... I lost track of my theme word and concept. Fortunately for me, the concept did not give up on me.
It never hurts to be kind and leave a good impression
Someone I met years ago, was contacted by a friend of theirs who was looking for breast cancer survivors willing to share their story. She remembered that I was open and transparent about my journey and asked to connect me with her friend. I agreed, believing that the conversation would most likely result in sharing information about breast cancer and African-American woman that would end up in a magazine article or a blog post. October is around the corner after all.
I spoke with the kindest sister. And as she explained what she was working on, who she worked for and her request... my heart soared. I joked with her then that once we got off the phone, I was going to dance for a little while because I was just that happy.
Finally! Somebody wanted to talk about what I was seeing all around me. Black women DO get breast cancer. Young black women are not exempt. We have to have these conversations and be open to really sharing the knowledge and learning -- and then taking action about our breast health.
A breast cancer awareness promotion for BET
While I do have friends who refuse to watch BET (Black Entertainment Television), due to their programming (sometimes it just seems to miss the mark), I actually do watch the network and I see that they are making some great changes. Being asked to participate in a breast cancer promotion for this network was a dream. I can't even say a dream come true because I didn't have the foresight to dream of it.
As much as I talk about black women and breast cancer all over social media and this blog (in real life too)... I often feel like a lone voice shouting into a wind tunnel. Breast cancer impacts our community hard and yet we really don't talk about it too much. That is a shame. At any rate, I took the train to New York and hung out for 2 days with some of the most fabulous, beautiful, accomplished, centered and generally awesome women I've ever met.
No lie... these chicks are BAD! I was in fan-girl mode most of the time I was there. Truly just thrilled to be included in their presence. Being able to speak freely about the journey of breast cancer, the importance of awareness within the black community and listening to other women share their stories was amazing. Absolutely amazing!
I only had the presence of mind to take a few pictures on the set during some down time. I wish I had thought to take a few more. The entire crew was awesome, the director was even more awesome and it was generally a great, great time. I learned a lot -- about the process of filming and about myself. I sincerely hope that more opportunities come my way that are as awesome as this.
The promotional pieces will most likely be shared on BET.com but some clips may make it to the television network as well. (fingers crossed)
It was my first time on a video shoot so everything was new and fresh to me. Really interesting work goes into creating films. My appreciation for the work shot up 1000%. The joy for me was in the connecting with other women -- both the survivors and the women on the set. I blog about this journey because I feel like I'm supposed to honestly. But also because I want people to see ME, and to see other survivors of breast cancer as women just like them. We're not super-woman, we're not aliens, or cursed... we're just women who had to go through a hard thing (a really ridiculously hard thing) but we looked at the journey and decided to fight.
I like being the "that could have been me" girl because the truth is, it could be you. Or your sister. Or your mother. Your neighbor. Your favorite barista. Your girlfriend on the bowling team. Anybody. Breast cancer can strike ANYBODY. So rather than behave as though its not possible, we (the survivors) and the medical community have to share with you what we know that will help to reduce your chances of getting it... while also preparing you for ways to find it and treat it if you do get it. And you have to listen and not be afraid.
Not everyone survives breast cancer. That is just the naked truth. But many of us do. And many of us go on and lead absolutely wonderful lives (as exciting or boring as you'd like). New technologies and medical advances happen all the time. I firmly believe that early detection is your best weapon. And that means, doing breast self-exams regularly, getting regular mammograms, talking with your doctor about concerns and generally being aware of changes with your breast and following up quickly.
Since this blog post has prattled on long enough, I want to leave you with a few thoughts:
- Your breast health matters. Because YOU matter. We tend to put ourselves last in everything. And while it is noble, it is not necessary. Your health matters. Your family and friends need you. They need whatever that special sauce is that you bring to their lives. So if you really want to be superwoman and everything to everyone... take care of your health. That way, they've got you in their lives forever.
- Your doctor is there to help you but if they don't listen to you... you can find another doctor. Look, I like doctors. One of my most favorite-est people on the entire planet is a physician (my cousin Melvin) and I wouldn't trade him for anything. He's easily one of the most brilliant people I know. Just like most doctors are. What they also are, is HUMAN. That means that they can make mistakes, they can have bad days and well... sometimes you just might not like them. Guess what? All of that is okay. If you go to your doctor with concerns and they don't take you seriously, try a little harder to get them to see that you're very concerned about your health and then explain why. If they still won't comply with your requests (some docs will hit you with "but you're too young, its probably nothing, I wouldn't worry" blah blah blah).. FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR. It is their job, but it is your life. Choose you...
- IF... if, if, if, if, if... you are diagnosed with breast cancer, it does not automatically mean that you are going to die. I promise you, when I heard my diagnosis that day... I thought I was going to drop dead on the spot. It is frightening to hear that you have cancer. But the truth is that for most of us, breast cancer is very treatable. But you won't know what you're working with until you see your medical team. So you have to take a deep breath, hold the hand of someone who loves you... and walk forward. I'm here if you need me, as are most pink ribbon sisters. We got you. (but it is an IF, not a when...)
- None of us like tragedy or bad things, and all of us are too stressed and very busy... but believe it or not, breast cancer can be a blessing to your life. (Don't shoot me...) I know it may be hard to accept this -- it was hard for me to accept this when I heard it during my treatment -- but in hind sight, breast cancer did bring some blessings to my life.
- Love is possible after breast cancer. So is REALLY GOOD SEX! I ain't even going to try to explain this further. Y'all know what I'm saying...