Monday, August 23, 2010

Why I Race - Komen Austin newsletter

I wrote my story for the Komen Austin Race for the Cure newsletter and it was released August 2010 - you can see it on the website HERE  but i also copied it here - it was inspiring and emotional to write - i hope some of you will join my Komen team The Glitter Dropz

I race because of this huge, loving, inspiring club of fellow survivors!

In 2009, I participated in the Susan G. Komen Austin Race for the Cure to honor my children’s stepmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Her diagnosis was shocking and felt tragic to us, driving home the concept that it can happen to anyone. It inspired me to get health insurance, which as a self- employed person is not the easiest thing to do. But at least I didn’t have cancer.

Six months later, I felt something in my breast and had a strange feeling. No, there was no way I could have breast cancer, not me! I also had breast pain, googled it, and self-diagnosed a hormonal cystic fibroid. Whew! Nevertheless, at 42 years old I had never had a mammogram, so I scheduled a regular check up and was sent for a mammogram.

After viewing the mammogram the doctor sent me for a biopsy that day! It was a Friday and I had to wait over the weekend for the results. I remember thinking that I didn’t want my life to change, but it did when the phone call came. Getting the call that I had breast cancer was a call I will never forget. It is impossible news. What about my kids, my plans, my breasts, my money, my happiness? What was going to happen to all of that?

I found that inside of us there is an amazing strength to do what we need to do when life throws us challenges. I told my family and friends, I made my appointments; I put on pretty clothes and makeup. I took action. Taking action is a powerful tool.

Due to various circumstances, what was originally planned as a lumpectomy became a bilateral mastectomy. I started chemotherapy on August 10th. I am amazed daily how happy I am. What originally felt like a tragedy has actually helped me be happier than I have ever been. The gifts I received since my diagnosis are immeasurable. Words from strangers on my blog, casual acquaintances offering help, reuniting with old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, phone calls from survivors I have never met, and of course the huge love and support from those close to me. Generosity is abundant and it makes me happy and strong, and I cannot wait to pass it on.

I thought I was a tough and strong, but now I KNOW I am tough and strong. Yet I have also learned to yield, ask for help and accept help. That has been my biggest lesson; strength does not mean that I have to do it all by myself.

Breast cancer sucks, and the frequency of its diagnosis is shocking. It’s physically and emotionally challenging, but in some odd way we are lucky. We are part of a huge, loving, and inspiring club. I am thrilled to be able to race at the 2010 Austin Race for the Cure, along with my fellow warriors, those that are survivors, and those that support us all.

Nanette Labastida
3 ½ month survivor

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