Affirmation: I see the grace and blessings in all the events of my life.
Betty Ford died this July, July 2011. She was the wife of President Gerald Ford. I guess being the first lady might be enough for some women. Maybe one day, it’ll be enough for some man, although I doubt that very much. In fact, it seems like most of the first ladies of the past were pioneers in one way or another. It has even been rumored that at times the White House, the government was run by first ladies trying to protect the ineptitude or disabilities of their husbands.
Betty Ford was an addict and her obituary focused more on her achievement of creating the Betty Ford Center for Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation than on her being Gerald Ford’s wife. Most of what I read about her after her death was about how courageous she was to admit to her addiction but not only did she openly talk about her problem, she took steps to heal and then reached out to over 90,000 others who have been treated by her center.
I am sure you will agree that alone is a remarkable legacy, one any one of us would probably be proud to claim. But, there was something else Betty Ford was known for; she publicly announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, that was a very radical and courageous thing to do. There was a time when the word “cancer” created panic and fear in the people who were associated with the patient. Yes, it still can but not because people think it's a communicable disease. Then, it had a stigma attached to it. It's people like Betty Ford whose honesty and courage led to taking cancer out of the closet and into the forefront of research and treatment.
I spoke with a woman recently who is a breast cancer survivor. She told me she pretends it never happened to her. Her denial is her way of coping. I am not here to judge that right or wrong. We need to do whatever it takes to survive, to heal. If denial is your best tool, use it. But, I do wonder if it really works. What do you think? Do you think you can really bury such a life changing event? Sometimes I think I’ve moved on and then, wham, even after 12 years something comes along to remind me of how different I am now than I was before cancer. I not only look at my life with a fuller understanding of my mortality, I look at the lives of my loved ones in the same way. Experiencing death and life threatening illnesses has helped me to see life as more precious and fragile.
I’ve chosen to share openly that I am a breast cancer survivor. No, it is not the first thing I tell people, sometimes they haven’t a clue and they may have known me for sometime but when called upon, I readily share my story. One of the reasons I like to share is simply because it’s such a success story. I am still here. It’s been twelve years and I am still here. I think it’s important for people to know that a diagnosis of breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence. Yes, it can be and unfortunately many times, it is but it’s not always. There are more and more people like me who are living wonderful lives long after undergoing cancer treatment. I feel it’s my responsibility to share with anyone who wants to listen that there is hope. That while cancer treatment isn’t fun, one can survive and in many cases, like mine, one can thrive.