Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Breast Cancer Scrapbook

I recently cleaned out a series of drawers and closets and came across odds and ends that hark back to my breast cancer battle days. I found a plastic bag full of cotton bandanas that were my head fashion mainstays during summer 2008. I decided to hold on to the pink paisely handkerchief--the one I wore when they wheeled me in to get my first mastectomy--and get rid of the others.

My breast cancer scrapbook
Underneath the bathroom sink cabinet, I pulled out two blonde wigs. One was a  short bob. The other had long, flaxen hair. I remember when I bought that one, I thought I would finally be able to sport the long, thick hair I was never not born with.  Of course, I couldn't help but try them on.  They were all matted up needed some seriou re-styling. Should I toss them in a trash bag or keep them? In the end, I just put them back under the sink.

I found my old straw fedora hat still sitting on the top shelf of my closet. It's crumpled with a band of dirt circling the inside rim. Like the wigs, I couldn't bring myself to throw it out. It's still there.

Then I came upon the mother lode: A pink scrapbook full of cards, letters, notes and journal entries. An old friend had given it to me in the midst of my health crisis. She's one smart cookie and knew full well it was the perfect gift--even if I didn't know it at the time.

I opened the scrapbook and read the cards, the letters and of course my journal entries.  Each item helped me relive the time and place when I received the card or written the thought. To use an old cliche, if the house started burning down, this scrapbook, the photos and the cats would be the first things I'd scramble for.

It might seem strange that I would want an album full of memorabilia that marks such a difficult time. Like most scrapbooks, this was no document of a fabulous vacation. But that's just the way it is. If nothing else, it reminds me that I survived cancer. By comparision, whatever other challenges are going on in my life now is just a walk in the park.

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