I tend to be a bit of a girly girl, so when October rolls around I revel in the ability to find limited edition items of common products in one of my favorite colors – PINK! It embarrasses me to admit that I rarely pay attention to the message behind the hue change. Our Dallas “Camden Cares” team never forgets what the month of October has come to mean and they honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by organizing our 5th year of participation in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure on October 20, 2012. As we say in Dallas, Big or Small, Camden Saves Them All! We salute our brave coworkers, residents, mothers, sisters, and friends who have fought this terrible disease.
This month we have a very special and unconventional guest blogger. Donna Morgan is the mother of Misty Beddoe, the Assistant Manager of Camden Springs. Misty says Donna was a stay-at-home mom extraordinaire to 2 young children while her husband was heroically fighting fires during his long 24 hours shifts. She ended up being the real hero after she was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago. Today she is a cancer-free survivor with all of her hair and an amazing story she wanted to share with you.
This word represents many things that make me smile: the end of triple-digit temperatures, small town Friday Night Football, Texas State Fair corny dogs, Big Tex, autumn leaves and my wedding anniversary. And then there is this… On October 18, 1998, I heard the dreadful news, “your favorite color will soon be pink.” Yes, I had breast cancer. I had hoped to experience many things in my life but invasive ductal carcinoma was not on the list. I had a lumpectomy, 4 months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation and a bald head. I thought I looked cute in a “G.I. Jane” kind of way. Medical expenses were costly but just think of all the money I saved on hair care products, razors and water over 6 months since I didn’t spend much time in the shower!
When I went to the hospital for my first chemo treatment, I walked toward two doors that read Oncology; I said to myself, “go in – don’t go in – go in – don’t go in???” I went in. I sat down in a darkish waiting area with a beautiful fish aquarium, soft lighting, easy listening music and very comfy chairs. I remember thinking, “now if only I had a good book and a glass of wine this would be great”. I looked around the room and realized I had something in common with her and her and him and her… and then the door opened for a beautiful little girl being pushed by her mother in a wheelchair who was maybe 6 years old. The wheelchair had a balloon tied to it streaming into the air, a small pair of boxing gloves fitted on one of the arm rests and a cuddly pink bear in the little girl’s lap. The mother took a chair across from me and wheeled her daughter next to her. I wanted to smile and say hello to the child but I was afraid to look at her directly. I knew I would cry. She looked at me and said, “Why are you here”? Without crying I said, “I think I am here to meet you”. She looked at me and didn’t say anything, but a small smile, a smile that seemed to disguise her pain, appeared on her face. My name was called just then. I gave her a wave and never saw her again. Never again would I have a pity party for one and ask, “why me”?
I celebrate October. My cancer isn’t something I ever just forget about. I try to wear pink every day of the month in October; I wear my pink ribbon pins; I walk in the Race for the Cure with family and friends every October at Northpark Mall; I give a donation for a free mammogram to benefit one lady who may not otherwise be able to have one. I celebrate October because I am HERE TO celebrate October! When I think about my breast cancer, I don’t think about my breast cancer… I think about my family. Funny, I thought I ran the show at our house and that I was the only one who knew how to operate the projector. I was responsible for carpool, cooking, cleaning, ironing, shopping and making sure to have cookies and milk on the table when for my two angels when they came home from school every day. After my diagnosis my husband worked two full-time jobs and managed to see that the kids were fed every day. He washed my body while I stood in the shower holding up the two drain tubes that were stitched into my skin. He would wake up during the night and recover my bald head to keep me from getting cold. My kids had Pizza Hut on speed-dial for delivery. My son would get up two hours early on week days so that he could drive his sister, Misty, to private school. My mother did the laundry ironing, held my hand and listened to my cry from pain while everyone else was out of the house.
I celebrate October…it reminds me of all that I have to be grateful for: Rusty, Matt and Misty, I owe you so much.