“I took a vow that from now on, I’m gon’ be my own best friend” – Beyonce’ “Me, Myself and I”
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!- Bob Marley “Get up, Stand Up”
I will keep this brief. I have mixed feelings towards breast cancer awareness month. Yep, that’s what I said. I’m all about supporting the cause, and appreciate of the folks who genuinely put their time, money and efforts, but I can’t help but feel like the month is turning into a holiday of sorts. Pinktober. And that annoys me to my core.
Today I experienced that level of annoyance at a full time high. I gleefully glided in a cafeteria, which will remain nameless, ready to order lunch. My attention was drawn to the flyers stating, “In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, today featured are homemade desserts”. Each dessert had a label with the pink ribbon on it, along with the price of that item. My eyes beamed with joy at the sight of all the chocolate covered strawberries, cupcakes, cookies, and crème puffs, but then I came back to my senses.
#1, sugar is cancer’s bff, but that’s another posting, and #2, are the proceeds of these sweet treats sales being donated to an organization? Being aware of the overuse of the pink ribbon to sell products, I asked; and was politely told, no. My initial sarcastic response was “oh, so you all are just going to exploit us huh” and then my inner Angela Davis kicked in. Not only is it not right, it’s downright deceptive. The only reason most people will even gravitate towards the sweets is because they are lured by the pink ribbon. I had a chat with the management to express my disappointment and they assured me they will follow up once they submitted my concern. I’m giving them until Friday.
This isn’t a cute holiday where you can wear pink for 31 days in a row. The harsh reality is that this year alone, over 220,000 women alone will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes it gets ugly, sometimes people pass away from it, or women lose a part of their body they never thought they would. Don’t become immune to the cause due to the oversaturation. Be educated about the companies you so willingly give your money to. A “pinkwasher” is a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease. To learn more about pinkwashing, click here: http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?page_id=13. (information from Beyond Boobs Inc).
I will leave you with this; go back to the basics. Pay attention to your bodies, do your monthly self breast exam, go to the doctor, get clinical exams, mammograms, encourage your friends and family to do the same, eat well, take on an exercise you enjoy, learn who benefits from your charitable purchase and what percentage of your money benefits is donated, and if you can, give a person that’s going through this experience, or any other for that matter, a HUG.
If you are looking for something to do this Saturday, October 26th, I’m having a small gathering in honor of this month from 1-4pm, to discuss this topic and introduce my budding project, PINK FIRE, as well as watch a film called “Pink Ribbons, Inc”. If you’re interested in coming, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and i’ll send you the DEETS!!
What do you all think about this month? Like, comment and subscribe!
I came in like a lamb, but I intend to leave like a lion- Sade Bullet Proof Soul
Procrastination is a total jerk and time robber, and I seem to have perfected the art of it to a tee. I started writing this blog this morning, and told myself, even wrote it on my daily to do list, that I would edit and post it tonight. But we all know that saying you’re going to do something, and doing it is two totally different things. This evening, I allowed the procrastination bug to devour me. I decided to go to the thrift store to “look around”, and an hour late emerged with a new dress, pants, two shirts and a vase. Then I got home, and decided I needed to get some exercised, went for a walk, got back home, cleaned the kitchen as I watched two episodes of trash reality tv (don’t judge me), cut up fruit, did a load of laundry, youtubed, synched my IPhone, made tea, then painted my toes. Ridiculous. It’s now 11:22pm, I should sleep, but I couldn’t let procrastination win tonight.
A month before my 30th birthday, I made a list of 30 things (sorta) I wanted to accomplish during my 30th year on this earth. I have a thing for lists, and I figured if I wrote it down, then it will inspire me and light the imaginary fire under my butt to get moving. That list has been hanging on my refrigerator since November, and it wasn’t until last week that I even glanced at it again. Here’s the good news: out of the 27 things I listed (yes, I only listed 27 things smh, a testament to my ever present battle with incompletion and idleness), 9 of them were completed. While I was happy to see that some of the things happened without much concentrated effort or planning, many of the things left on my list are going to take some initiative on my part.
As of June 1st, I’ve been 30 for exactly 6 months. Sitting at my kitchen table, I had to be honest with myself about what I have and have not accomplished, and the reason behind that. What shook me up the most was the question that lingered in my mind “What have you done in the past 183 days to really change your life?” Swallows the tough pill. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like after the age of 25, time fast forwards at the speed of lightning. You look up from your daily groundhog day of sleep, commute, work, commute, eat and sleep, another birthday is rapidly approaching, and you’re wondering why you haven’t been on vacation yet. Or why you haven’t blogged in 6 months. I had to admit to myself that I’m lazy. And not only lazy, but scared. You would think someone who beat cancer twice wouldnt be afraid of anything, but I’m still a sucka when it comes to my dreams. I make excuses and instead of coming home and working on my ideas and dreams, I sit on my couch, watch 2 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, eat cereal for dinner, then get ready for groundhog day to commence in the next 10 hours. Like Jay-Z said, this can’t be life.
I’m sharing all this in an effort to obtain some accountabilty. I have lists upon lists of ideas and goals, some of them dating back 8 years, that I have yet to complete. I’m the queen of partial efforts…I’ll start a book, get 2/3 thru, then won’t pick it back up for months. I still don’t know the fate of Katniss & Peta in District 13 (shout out to the Hunger Games fans). I need to finish what I start, and do something that scares the crap out of me! Even if I embarass myself in the process, I have to at least attempt it. A notebook full of dreams is useless if I don’t take the time to just try. It’s time to push myself to be a finisher because almost doesn’t count.
Do you all ever become afraid to live your dreams? Do your dreams sometimes feel too big? Share your thoughts, comment and subscribe!
The Message (MSG)
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
I know some things have changed since the last I’ve seen you,
some good, some for the bad
All and all I can’t complain that’s what I’ve been through
But seeing you reminds me of the precious times we had- D’Angelo “One Mo’Gin”
I have to be honest. I haven’t written in quite some time because I just wasn’t moved to do so. I know that may not be good for readership, or for the people who actually patiently wait for me to post a new blog, but if I’m not feeling it, I just don’t force it. So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table, re-reading past posts and comments, and it hit me; I miss us. I miss sharing, I miss the exchange, I miss being honest, I miss typing, back spacing and re-typing my words as I pour out my heart digitally.
I created this blog for the sole purpose of sorting through my personal emotional rollercoaster of being diagnosed with breast cancer for the 2nd time in 2 years. It wasn’t to brag, boast or become the poster child for chicks under 40 with breast cancer. I just wanted to write through how I was feeling. After each post, I felt like a weight was lifted. Now that I really think about it, this blog started from a selfish place. It was all about me, and my feelings, and my journey. But then something beautiful happened. Other people started to open up, and be honest as well, sharing their stories of overcoming, being transparent about their struggles or simply were provided a little bit of hope and encouragement they needed to keep going. I’ve gotten so many calls, texts, or emails just saying thank you, or that I helped them in some way. That blesses my soul more than anything else.
At times, I struggle with what I should continue writing about. My treatments are completed, my hair has grown back with a vengeance, and my life has mellowed out from the initial shock of diagnosis. I really just want to be there for whoever needs me. I’m not trying to be deep, I’m just trying to be helpful. So, as it comes to me, I will write. Simple as that. No pressure or no stress in us getting reacquainted. Just know that I missed us, and I’m still here…
“…What we talkin’ bout Cuz I ain’t got time,
For what people be talkin’ bout all the time,
What we talkin’ bout fiction Or we talkin bout fact…
They Talk, We Did, Who cares what They say, They say, They say” -Jay-Z “What We Talkin Bout”
I’ve always been a talker, a woman of many words. In kindergarten my desk was right beside my teacher, Ms. McGee, facing the rest of the class. That was a “special” place for the “special” kids to sit. My 5-year-old self probably wasn’t even fazed. It probably made me feel important, even though it was a tactic of discipline, but in my mind it was an opportunity for me to be in the spotlight!! LOL. Throughout my life, my mouth has gotten me into and out of more situations, binds, and predicaments than you can imagine. I knew from an early age that putting words together was truly an art form, and that my gift of gab was something that I should embrace rather than shun. I always wanted to use my words as a source of positivity and enlightenment, but of course, being the human that I am, I’ve also used my words to tear down, gossip about and degrade others, and myself. I’ve always been extremely vocal, wearing it as a badge of honor in a sense when I was younger. I prided myself on being the chick that would “speak her mind”, and say what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted, and if anyone had an issue with that then they need to check themselves!! *insert angry black girl face & eye roll* All I can do now is shake my head at the Shelley from whence I’ve come, but thank God for growth. I’ve allowed Him (many times reluctantly) over the years to smooth me out in this area of my personality.
I didn’t really begin to understand the depth of this area until I began to know God more intimately. He created the entire world with words. God said, and then He saw. He even said it was good. He set the example for us on how to use our words, speaking those things that be not as though they were. (And ya’ll thought that came from The Secret LOL!) A few weeks ago I had the oddest dream. Not to go into too much detail, but it involved a warrior man, and young girl and me looking in on their interactions. The warrior man had just used his machete to slice out, get this, a TONGUE. Then he walked over to a huge tree and hung the tongue on a branch like an ornament, and showed it to the little girl. I woke up like WHOA, what did THAT mean?? I’ve drawn some conclusions of what it means for me, but I knew it served as a warning to be cautious about my words and how I communicate.
Many of us say how we feel, but many times how we feel isn’t reality. Not to get too philosophical on you, but I’ll give you an example. Say you go extra hard in the gym, and two days later, you feel like you’ve either pulled or strained something. You share it with those closest to you, and the more you talk about it, the pain gets worse! You finally go to the doctor, after convincing yourself that you have one of three ailments according to WebMD, only to find there is nothing wrong at all. What you perceived to be true, simply was not. You may be asking yourself why I’m talking about this on my blog where I usually discuss my journey in fighting cancer. Well, its simple. What you say affects what you see. Our words are like seeds, and trust and believe, they sprout, whether it’s a weed or beautiful flower. We have the ability and power to choose what we say. Throughout my adventure in cancerdom, I said all types of crazy things. “I’m fat”, “I’m ugly”, “My doctor is stupid”, “I feel horrible!” just to name a few. Those gripes got me nowhere, except treading in a sea of my own pity. I must admit I wallowed there at times, believing and saying things that simply were not true.
It is important to remember when you face ANY challenge, whether it’s a disease, heartache, breakup, or breakdown, you have to be a watchdog over your mouth. You can use your words to make your situation better or worse. I’m an advocate for expressing yourself, but once you cross that line into self-pity or tearing others down, you must kick those feelings to the curb, and just speak the truth. Don’t allow yourself to fall for the okie doke, and fall into a pattern of negative speech. If you need to vent, do it with one person you trust, not your entire crew, or even worse Facebook or Twitter. Get it out, but then make sure you say the things out your mouth that will give you hope and the faith to press on. “I can do this”, “I get better with everyday that passes”, “I am healed”, “I’m more than a conqueror”. If you need to, write positive words and statements on post-it notes, and stick them in places like the mirror, your desk, door, etc. to remind yourself to speak life and not death. And if that becomes hard, just remember what your mama used to tell you all the time, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Silence can be golden 🙂
Proverbs 18:21-The Message (MSG)
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
“…With a pain in my chest and I’m wondering where did it come from (I got tested)
And the results came back, and the doctor said I’m sorry but you got cancer
I could not believe it so, I call my mama to calm my nerves
She got down on her knees, she said a prayer for me
Just keep on thanking Jesus, He’ll give you want you need
Now that was five years ago, I don’t have that pain no more
Doc said you can go home, cause all your cancer’s gone…
You saved me, You saved me, gave me a 2nd chance…”
-R. Kelly “You Saved Me”
As the technician suddenly stormed out of the room, I was left standing in front of the mammogram machine confused. If it wasn’t for my sissie Ajoia being in the room with me, I would have burst into tears. My eyes darted to the computer screen were the image of my left breast was displayed. I did not know what I was looking at, but I didn’t think I saw anything alarming. All I knew was the last time a technician left the room in the middle of my mammogram, I had cancer. I played it cool though. Literally a million thoughts ran through my head as I waited for the door to open back up. I don’t know if Ajoia was scared too, but she didn’t show any signs of it. A drawn-out minute later, which felt more like 30 minutes, another technician entered the room to inform me that the other nurse got sick and she would be finishing up my mammogram. I wanted to hug and smack her at the same time. (Note to all healthcare professionals: please be conscious that your patient’s needs come first and any erratic or sudden behavior can cause anxiety and worry! Abruptly leaving the room scares people, well at least Shelley B. Geesh!) She finished taking the images, and then was escorted back to the waiting room to wait on the results. Since GW does digital mammography, they give you the results during your visit, which is wonderful. Some women still wait up to 2 weeks for the results, so I am thankful for that convenience. Waiting for results can be quite the nerve-racking experience. I just kept repeating in my mind, “just give me the green light so I can roll-out”!
After 20 minutes or so, Ajoia and I were able to go into the imaging center, where doctors display your mammogram images on huge computer screens and review your films. It’s pretty amazing to see what your boobs look like on the inside. I was more than elated to hear from the doctors that my mammogram was all clear. A rush of happiness filled my body. Another year under my belt.
As much as I wanted to be happy, a tinge of anxiety hit me as well. Most women don’t start getting mammograms until the age of 40; my first one at 25 lead to discovering I had cancer. Not the ideal first experience for a test that so many women dread. In a sense, it feels like the never-ending story. Tests don’t seem so scary when you know for sure you can past them. For instance, if someone gave me a 4th grade spelling test right now, I would pass with flying colors!! But a mammogram or BSGI…then I get nervous. I have to be honest. As much as I want to be the fearless, full of faith, speaking those things into existence type of chick, the fear and doubt creeps in, and the thought of having to take this test every year for the rest of my life is not my idea of a picnic.
These are the moments when I am so thankful for the people in my life. The people who stand in the gap and pray for me when fear gripes my thoughts. The people who put on their game face, and even if they are scared, they don’t show any signs of it. The people who remind me of God’s promises and trust Him with my life, when I’m unable to make sense of this all. The people like Ajoia, who took off work without me even asking, to be by my side, and then practically pleaded with the technician to come in the room while I got my test done. Her persistence was not in vain, because the moment that nurse ran out of the room, Ajoia’s presence kept me calm.
Being faced with any challenge in your life can feel like you’re moving mountains. All you want to do is move past that moment and the fear that is attached to it, see the light at the end of the tunnel. Two years have flown by since my 2nd diagnosis, and I am still battling the residual doubts and anxiety associated with that, but the journey is so much sweeter when you give thanks for the victories won throughout the process. I may have to take these tests for the rest of my life, but I won’t have to take them alone. I can’t focus on the fact that I must take these tests forever, I must remind myself that this is an opportunity to have multiple victories and good reports year after year. Countless practice to exercise my faith muscle and kick that fear to the curb.
The Message (MSG)
21-22But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.”
“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you…
…Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you” -Eric B. & Rakim I Know You Got Soul
Instead of listing a plethora of excuses, I’m just going to come out and say it; I’m sorry!!! I have been totally slacking on keeping up with my beloved blog. I’ve been so busy frolicking and concocting my plan to take over the world that I have totally neglected my blogging responsibilities. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? You do 🙂 well GREAT!! Thank you! Now let’s get back to business.
In the past few months, I have had at least 6 people randomly question me about my blog, the most recent being an elementary school friend that I literally have not seen since the 90s. I ran into her recently while having brunch (one of my favorite frolicking activities) and she brought up the blog. That was definitely another reminder to me to get back into the swing of things. Alot has taken place since I last posted in January, so I will have tons of posts coming up to keep you all abreast (pun intended) LOL.
I just wanted to drop a quick note and thank you all for all the love, support and encouragement you have given to me throughout this process. I truly cannot thank you enough. Special thanks to my friends who challenge me and put that fire under my butt!! Shells is back on her post!! Love you!